Registration NOW OPEN! What’s it Going to Take? 2018 Northern Rivers Housing Forum

The national Everybody’s Home campaign from Homelessness Australian and all the major Housing Associations calls for a strategy to deliver the 500,000 new social and affordable rental homes we will need by 2026.

Join us for an interactive panel and keynote speakers as we explore what it will take to deliver the share of social and affordable housing stock we need in our region at the Northern Rivers Housing Forum at Lennox Head Cultural & Community Centre on 11 October 2018.

See the flyer for full details.

Click here to register ($45 incl gst)

Click here to express interest in having an information stall for your housing or homelessness program at the forum ($85 incl gst)

Post expires at 11:26am on Thursday October 11th, 2018

RU OK Day convoy prompts the conversation to check in with friends and family

Rose Hogan from our StandBy Service was glad to be part of the #RUOKDay Convoy in Lismore on 3 September. Sometimes just a couple of words can make a big difference. Sometimes, it’s just lending an ear.

Rose shares her thoughts on RU OK Day and what to look out for with your friends and family when they don’t appear to being doing so well…


Do you think those three little words – R U OK – are really able to make a difference?  

“RU OK is an easy introduction to conversation, which is what it’s about.  A simple approach to asking – in a genuine & caring way – how are you going today? The difference is the practice becomes a natural part of engagement (providing we take the time to listen to the answer)


What sorts of signs or symptoms should people look for in their family, friends, neighbours and colleagues?  

RU OK Day put together this great clip about looking for signs or changes in people’s behaviour. See the link below to find out:


People can find conversations about serious or personal things pretty tricky. Do you have any tips or pointers for people to help them broach the subject?

The more you practice the better you get…same with tricky conversations. Be mindful of place and time – if you are genuinely interested and respectful, then a conversation may flow. Practice with friends or family – mostly practice listening. It’s often harder than we think. Listen to hear what’s being said (not about how you will reply). We don’t have to have “all the answers”. We mostly need a caring, genuine interest in the other person.


What sorts of things can we do to be more resilient in the face of mental health challenges?

My personal tip – care well for self, then I’m better prepared to manage my own issues and any others that may present from others. Also speak frankly about the issues (of course, at times we need to be selective as when or where these conversations take place) but as service providers we have many opportunities to raise awareness, challenge bias and bigotry and promote help seeking.

Take good care of self….ensure life, work, physical, emotional, spiritual balance. Ensure you have someone to go to and speak with when you are feeling ‘wobbly’.


What steps should we take after a big conversation with someone to follow up?

Check in with them – “how did you go with that…(referral/ meeting whatever”)…checking in and following up shows a genuine interest. It can also encourage that person to continue to get support


Tuesday 14 September is the official RU OK Day. But don’t feel you need to wait for that to ask the question. Ask today – Are you OK?



Post expires at 3:17pm on Monday December 10th, 2018

Listen in as we share tips on keeping children safe

This week marks the start of National Child Protection Week, which is a valuable time to consider the role everybody in our community can play to keep children safe.

Our Family Referral Service (FRS) Manager Fiona Halligan and Child and Family Worker Frank Coughlan (from Mijing Jarjums Kids in Mind) had a great on-air discussion at ABC Radio in Lismore about protecting children and the simple things we can all do to create safer communities for kids.

You can listen here:

Post expires at 1:04pm on Thursday September 20th, 2018

What’s it Going to Take? 2018 Northern Rivers Housing Forum to Explore Affordable Housing Solutions

What will it take to get the social and affordable housing stock our region needs? 

SAVE THE DATE: 11 October 2018 for What’s it Going to Take? 2018 Northern Rivers Housing Forum at Lennox Head Cultural & Community Centre.

At just 0.8%, the Northern Rivers has the lowest rental vacancy rate in NSW. According to local homelessness services, poor access to affordable housing is the greatest contributing factor to our homelessness rates.

The national Everybody’s Home campaign calls for a strategy to deliver the 500,000 new social and affordable rental homes we will need by 2026. Our October 2018 forum will explore what it will take to deliver the share of social and affordable housing stock we need in our region. 

Come and hear from Everybody’s Home national campaign spokesperson Kate Colvin at our Northern Rivers forum and be part of the solution.

Post expires at 12:13pm on Thursday October 11th, 2018

COMPASS Screening Love, Simon at Hoyts Tweed City for Wear It Purple Day

Compass (Tweed/GC LGBTIQAP+ youth network) is celebrating Wear It Purple Day again this year after a packed-out screening of Real Boy in 2017 – this year screening the acclaimed 2018 release Love, Simon on Friday 31 August 31 at Hoyts, Tweed City.

The film will be followed by a panel discussion: “Creating safety and inclusion for LGBTIQAP+ young people in schools” which will be MC’d by Tobin Saunders and include an all-star line-up.

Please join and share the facebook event here.

Everyone deserves a great love story, but for 17-year-old Simon Spier, it’s a little more complicated. He hasn’t told his family or friends that he’s gay, and he doesn’t know the identity of the anonymous classmate that he’s fallen for online. Resolving both issues proves hilarious, terrifying and life-changing. You can see the trailer here:

Wear It Purple Day is about fostering supportive, safe and accepting environments for LGBTIQAP+ young people in our community. Gold coin entry. Seats are limited so please arrive early to avoid disappointment.


Let’s bring regional Australia in from the cold on homelessness

Let’s bring regional Australia in from the cold on homelessness

As Homelessness Week 2018 draws to a close Tony Davies, CEO of Social Futures and the Chair of NSW Council of Social Services, proposes some affordable actions that can be taken immediately to address homelessness in regional Australia.

What comes to mind when you think of homelessness? For many it is the image of someone sleeping rough in an urban or inner-city environment – perhaps tucked away in a dark alley or huddled up on a park bench. But the fact is that a homeless person in Australia is just as likely to be living in a regional area – perhaps camping out in the bush, among the coastal sand dunes or sleeping in their car on the fringe of a country town.

Nearly 20 per cent of the rough sleepers in NSW, for example, are to be found between Grafton and Tweed Heads although the region’s population is just 4 per cent of the NSW total.

As the CEO of a large not-for-profit and the largest homelessness service provider in the North Coast of NSW I am very familiar with the profound affects that homelessness and housing stress has on the well being of families and our communities. The rental vacancy rate for the Northern Rivers was 0.8 per cent in January 2018, compared with 1.6 per cent in June 2017. This was the lowest vacancy rate in NSW.

Furthermore, according to the ABS, 1,494 people were homeless in the Northern Rivers on Census night in 2016, an increase of 194 persons (or 4.6 per 10,000) since the 2011 Census. Homelessness is just as serious an issue for other inland communities across NSW and regional Australia. Lack of available, let alone affordable, housing stock is a key reason so many of our neighbours are homeless. Government policies seeking to address homelessness have largely left these people out.

As the nation’s attention turned to homelessness this week it’s time for a new policy direction – one which finally brings homeless people living in regional areas in from the cold. For far too long, affordable and social housing policies have poured revenue into urban developments as political leaders seek to build as many dwellings as possible within the electoral cycle. Regional areas, with their smaller developers and limited infrastructure, are relegated to watching from the sidelines as their homeless populations continue to grow. But there is another way – one that specifically targets areas of need in regional Australia with smaller-scale housing developments that are genuinely affordable for people on low incomes.

Minor tax changes

For a start we need a regime of tax incentives to encourage development in regional areas of high need. Relatively small changes to capital gains and land tax would make it much more attractive for developers to build genuinely affordable housing in regional areas. There are those who argue that we shouldn’t use tax as an instrument of social policy, but that is simply the nature of taxation. Taxation necessarily involves deciding where money is going to be taken from and where it’s going to go. We should do that in a way that reduces economic inequality.

But these projects also require sufficient time to be done thoughtfully.

Longer term affordable housing initiatives

There have been a number of occasions in recent years where the government has put money into short-term projects and failed to meet the need for affordable housing in regional areas. The National Rental Affordability scheme and Kevin Rudd’s stimulus package are prime examples. Billions of dollars flowed into affordable housing subsidies and development, but those funds were allocated using processes that required large-scale development to be completed very quickly. It meant that all of the money was allocated on the basis of who could build things fast, rather than on the basis of need.

The national political climate means governments have an obsession with large developments, driven by the desire for ‘big bang’ figures to impress voters. This leaves developers in regional areas unable to compete with their city cousins for a share of the funding pie. A more mature approach is needed to ensure the benefits of future housing supply initiatives go to those who need them most.

Quarantining affordable housing funds for the regions

Governments need to look at quarantining social and affordable housing funds for specific regional markets so that community housing partners can develop a pipeline for affordable, smaller scale development. Instead of building 300 houses a year or two, why not aim for several developments of 50 in five years? That sort of development would have a huge impact in regions like the Northern Rivers and would actually be achievable for local providers. It would create sustained employment businesses rather than a one-off boost to large scale metropolitan developers.

Coordinated planning

This needs to be undertaken in concert with changes to planning laws. In particular, fitting more people in your typical house block in order to maximise the yield from available land. Yes, we need housing that’s liveable and in character with neighbourhoods. But we also need to fit more people into smaller spaces and a mix that includes people who need temporary accommodation. We also need to bring in inclusionary zoning: a requirement that a percentage of lots in every subdivision be devoted to affordable housing.

Some people argue that this makes development more expensive overall because it’s no good for developers. But it is a fact of life in South Australia and other countries around the world and they are doing just fine.

The benefits of implementing these policies are immense. Safe, stable accommodation is the foundation for participation in social and economic life. Without it a large and growing section of our community will continue to be left out in the cold.

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