From Social to Private Housing

The Parramatta Housing Access project was launched today at the Emporium in Parramatta, with politicians, private sector realtors, and community service providers in attendance.

The project was developed by a steering committee involving CMRC,  Settlement Services International (SSI) and real estate agents.

Addressing those in attendance, Melissa Monteiro, CMRC CEO said “the aim is to eliminate and avoid evictions, homelessness, and the associated exclusion and marginalisation that stems from this. We want to let migrants feel as though they have a sense of place and belonging.”

CMRC CEO Melissa Monteiro addresses community service providers and real estate agents

CMRC CEO Melissa Monteiro addresses community service providers and real estate agents

SSI Program Manager for Housing Services, Charles Rich spoke to the financial repercussions that can be felt by real estate agents and for those in private sector housing, “if you have to go through the eviction process, it can cost the Real Estate agency up to $20,000, we’re here to help property managers deal with such issues and save money, by working in partnership with real estate agents, landlords and tenants to fill the gap.

Our aim is to be a one stop solution for real estate agents when they need it, providing people with support when they need it.”

Geoff Lee MP talks about the importance of the housing agenda to the NSW state government

Geoff Lee MP talks about the importance of the housing agenda to the NSW state government

CMRC Settlement Services Manager Aurelia Rahman said “the objectives of the Housing Access Project are twofold, 1) to develop stronger relationships with local real estate and 2) to build the capacity of CALD community leaders. We’re shifting the focus from crisis and emergency relief to early intervention.

This is done by providing a pathway to real estate property managers mainly in Parramatta LGA to identify tenants who may be struggling, and to refer them to service providers who will be able to empower them and help them take the necessary steps to avoid eviction. Educating and supporting tenants in this way benefits everyone in the community, from real estate agents who will save money and avoid stress, to government and community service providers.”

Real Estate agents pose for a photo with CMRC Community Services Manager Aurelia Rahman

Real Estate agents pose for a photo with CMRC Community Services Manager Aurelia Rahman

The marriage between community and private sector housing to address this issue is a big win for government. Liberal Party MP Geoff Lee said “the private sector industry partners and real estate agents should be congratulated for joining this initiative. Homelessness and affordable housing is a key priority area for the government, it’s a difficult problem to fix.

Our office in particular, 80% of our workload is related in one way or another to affordable or social housing. We’ve found that once you’re in the social housing net, you never really come out, and this is a massive strain. So an initiative like this is welcome.”


Special mention and thanks to the following Real Estate Agencies for their attendance and support for the project: 

Everything Realty - Wentworthville
Magree Real Estate - Westmead
Elders Real Estate - Toongabbie
LJ Hooker - Parramatta

For more information on how you can access this project, contact: Narayan Dhimal or Ian Johns - 9687 9901

Cultural Competency Training in Orange

Last Monday saw the Beyond Diversity team travel to regional New South Wales, to delivery cultural competency training to community sector workers at Headspace in the city of Orange. 

The Cultural Competency training was organised in response to the growing refugee and migrant client base of community organisations in regional NSW, and the need to understand and tailor services to these clients. 

Participants take in the statistics around Australian refugee intake

Participants take in the statistics around Australian refugee intake

Alison Logan, Program Manager for Headspace Orange said, “The workshops have been really interesting, thought provoking, it just opens your mind to a different way of thinking through the whole situation from which people have potentially come from, and the way we can use that information to make it easier for them to engage with us and our service.”

The training shed light on important issues and brought to attention misconceptions that participants held. Verity, a Community Engagement Worker at Orange, and Sessional Tutor at OCTEC said, “One thing that really stood out for me was the statistics on Australia's refugee intake, I was shocked and disappointed at the same time. We do have the misconception that we as a nation have one of the largest numbers in terms of intake,”

One of the Beyond Diversity Facilitators, Emmanuel talks to participants about working with South Sudanese communities and negotiating their various cultures

One of the Beyond Diversity Facilitators, Emmanuel talks to participants about working with South Sudanese communities and negotiating their various cultures

Neville Atkinson, an indigenous Australian and Youth Care Coordinator at Headspace Orange, spoke of how the cultures and values held by refugee and migrant communities resonated with him and his indigenous heritage. “A real standout to me was the similarities between my indigenous culture and the cultures of those who have comes to Australia (as migrants/refugees) - the similarities I’ve learnt that we have is something that is beneficial to me (as a worker). I think that there is a common ground there that I am eager to explore.”

“Cultural identity makes up the essence of who we are and I think that if we can’t bring that to the table, especially in such an area as mental health, we are really missing the whole point of what we are doing.”

Migrants, Refugees and Children with Disabilities

The migrant and refugee experience is tough enough, trying to negotiate a new language, culture, society, laws, education system, the list is endless. This experience is amplified when you are the parent of a child with a disability, a category that has little by way of support, but one that is starting to grow.

Recognising this need after speaking with clients, the Community Migrant Resource Centre's (CMRC) CALD Early Intervention and Perinatal Program (EIP) partnered with Holroyd School, a special needs school, to connect parents who have children with disabilities to service providers who specialize in providing support services for them, their families and communities. 

Parents meet with service providers to discuss how they can be assisted

Parents meet with service providers to discuss how they can be assisted

Margarita Videla, EIP Coordinator said, "Since the NDIS has started, there has been a lot of confusion among migrant and refugee families, about what it is exactly, what it means for them and their children. The school (Holroyd School) has expressed concern about this lack of awareness amongst parents, so we proposed to start this event to get the ball rolling and generate conversation in order to educate and empower the families we work with in a relaxed and non-threatening environment." 

Äll the service providers that are here, they've been asked to come on board as a result of extensive consulation with the school and parents, it's been tailored to what has emerged as the pressing needs of these families, like difficulty in negotiating housing, understanding the law and their rights,  dealing with depression, social isolation and other issues."

Principal Anne Flint welcomes parents and service providers to Holroyd School

Principal Anne Flint welcomes parents and service providers to Holroyd School

Principal of Holroyd School, Anne Flint said "We are aiming to build networks that connect the community and the school, as well as making the lives of our students families easier. Just last Wednesday night established our P&C for the first time in 20 years, and thanks to the efforts of the CMRC we're able to run an event like this that'll only increase the schools connection with the community, to answer questions and address their needs." 

The CMRC will be continuing their work with Holroyd School extensively over the next year to develop a practical model that will ease the transition of CALD families with children with disabilities in Australia, and will look to implement this model in other sites, schools and centres around Sydney.