40th Anniversary Launch of Tenants’ Union of NSW

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I want to acknowledge the traditional custodians of the land, the Gadigal people of the Eora Nation, and their elders past and present and thank them for their centuries of stewardship of this land.  

Thank you to the Tenants’ Union of NSW for this opportunity to participate in today’s very special event – the launch of the Tenants Union’s 40th Anniversary.

It is an honour for me to be here representing Minister Brad Hazard – one of the most experienced and senior ministers in the parliament today. Your sector is in good hands within the government.

My congratulations to all those  who have worked with the Tenants’ Union during the past 40 years, for your important contribution in advancing the interests of tenants in this State.

In particular, I want to acknowledge your work in support of social housing tenants in NSW, including some of the most vulnerable members of our society.

I say this as someone born and raised in public housing in Penrith in 1960’s.

As I said in my inaugural speech – back then housing commission as it was called, was seen as a hand up for my 17 year old mum and 19 year old dad. Public Housing gave my family the opportunity leading to home renting and then ownership.

The NSW Government greatly appreciates the contribution the Union makes to improving outcomes for vulnerable tenants.

And I appreciate it having been a Councillor for this area for 12 years.

The NSW Government certainly valued the input and contribution of the Union in the development of our major new social housing reform strategy Future Directions, which was released last month.

Future Directions for Social Housing in NSW sets out the Government’s vision for social housing over the next 10 years.

Personally I think this is one of the most exciting ‘revolutionary’ policies we have put forward. To reshape social housing and affordable housing for next generation.

That is of course daunting for many tenants – and your role as advocates will become even more important over the years ahead.

To touch on the policy more broadly Future Directions has three strategic priorities:

    1. More social housing
    2. More opportunities,       support and incentives to help people avoid or leave social housing
    3. A better social       housing experience.

Future Directions is backed by the whole of Government and will change the way social housing works in NSW.  A good example of this is the decision (against some pressure) to route the new Sydney Metro Rail via Waterloo and build an underground station there. Whilst this will unlock the area’s potential for more housing and a better mix, it is undoubtedly true that access to good public transport assist in gaining employment, education and training and social integration for disadvantaged communities.

This is an exciting time with opportunities for partnerships between government, community organisations and the private sector.

I know that the Tenants Union strongly support  social housing to  provide affordable, secure rental housing for people not able to be supported in the  private market.

The Tenants Union have been strong advocates for the growth of the social housing sector across NSW , with new stock built and existing stock maintained.

So I am very pleased to announce that we have committed to delivering up to 23,000 new and replacement social housing dwellings.    We are the first government in two decades to actually grow the number of social housing homes.

The Tenants Union also encouraged the Government to look at how we can encourage tenants into employment and we have committed to do so under the Future Directions Strategy.

I am truly excited by the reforms that will be implemented in the social housing system in the coming years, and the Government looks forward to continuing to work with the Tenants’ Union to ensure the best possible outcomes for some of our most vulnerable members of our community.

Congratulations once again to the Tenants’ Union on your ‘mid-life’ birthday and on your proud history and the incredibly important work you do.