Safety, inclusion address at public housing community meeting
The North Melbourne public housing community has gathered in solidarity with the City of Melbourne to discuss critical issues of safety, inclusion, discrimination, and other concerns.
The meeting, held on July 17, provided a platform for more than 50 residents to have their voices heard, with many sharing personal stories.
They spoke about family violence, crime, and discrimination in employment, as well as issues about not feeling safe, poor lighting in streets, few volunteer support services, and the need to “feel equal and wanted”.
The meeting was organised by the Motivation Assistance Rehabilitation and Growth (MARG) Foundation, a charity dedicated particularly to advocating the rights of vulnerable people and women impacted by family violence. Its CEO Deepa Gupta is a North Melbourne public housing resident.
Ms Gupta said the residents’ main objective was to bring attention to the issues they face within their community and to work collaboratively with the council and stakeholders to find lasting solutions that built a more inclusive and safer community.
She said she hoped the outcomes of the meeting would help inform the City of Melbourne’s Women’s Empowerment and Safety Plan 2024, and the Disability Access and Inclusion Plan 2024.
She said the diverse group of participants included single mums, teachers, tradies, volunteers, accountants, researchers, retirees, and people with disabilities among others.
“Participants talked about their experiences on belonging, safety, inclusion, inequality and discrimination … spelling out their needs and aspirations,” she said.
Ms Gupta expressed her gratitude to the council, which she said shared her commitment to residents, workers, students, and visitors that “they all felt included”.
Among those to share their voice were women of South Asian origins who were highly educated and hard working with top managerial experience but had “little recognition when they applied for jobs or positions” in Australia.
Women from the culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) community who are facing family violence said that while they felt safer in the community compared to living in other suburbs, their “biggest reason for their insecurity” was not being able to afford their own home and to “have freedom from violence”.
Ms Gupta said women impacted by family violence also wanted to be a part of a support group to give “them better confidence to intermingle without feeling unsafe or insecure”.
“They asked the City of Melbourne to bring equality, reduce discrimination e.g by bringing a policy or special drive to give priority to CALD women and the first priority to those impacted by violence,” she said.
Other issues raised were concerns of increased crime, including break-ins to homes and vehicles, drug activity in the area, and residents having bank cards “snatched” by thieves while they were trying to buy basic food staples such as milk and bread. •
Caption: Residents gather for a meeting with the City of Melbourne.