Students squat University of Melbourne property

[Press release]

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Students occupied a property belonging to the University of Melbourne on Wednesday, August 20, demanding the University address the housing crisis affecting many students. The property, located at 278 Faraday St, was previously used to house Melbourne University’s counseling service but has been vacant since 2005.

This action was taken as part of a campaign for the university to invest in affordable student-run student housing by the Student Housing Action Collective (SHAC).

Within the inner city region there is a rental vacancy rate of only 0.3% and the figure for the affordable rental vacancy rate is only a fraction of this. Median rents are going up by 17% annually with no signs of slowing.

SHAC is demanding that Melbourne University make provisions to turn 278 Faraday St into an affordable student housing co-operative managed by students. To this end, the students are going to University Council, the highest decision making body, with a concrete proposal for a viable co-operative.

SHAC have been campaigning on student homelessness for many months and have been driven by the University’s refusal to act. Glyn Davis, Melbourne University’s Vice-Chancellor himself acknowledged a few weeks ago that even at this elite university there are up to 440 students who are homeless and even more suffering from severe housing stress.

We thank Glyn Davis for raising this issue but if the university is not prepared to act now then there is no other alternative for students but to take action themselves. Homeless students can’t wait. It’s time for student voices to be heard in the housing discussion.

The housing shortage has hit crisis point for students. Students are struggling along on meagre or no income support from the government, forced to work long hours to the detriment of their studies in order to pay the rent.

This issue is one that is particularly felt by international students at Melbourne University. There is a complete dearth of affordable housing offered by Universities to international students. International students often arrive here with no idea of the current housing crisis. Melbourne University is complicit in the exploitation of international students, treating them as cash cows without providing adequately for their welfare.

The University’s response to the housing crisis has thus far has been inadequate. Although we acknowledge the university provides a valuable service to students through the Student Housing Service and housing bursaries scheme, this is not enough in the current housing context. To really address the roots of the housing crisis we need to address the supply side of the housing problem. The best thing the university could do in this respect would be to invest in affordable housing for students.

Students are turning the space into a vibrant community hub with a bike workshop, gardening activities, theatre rehearsal space and art gallery.

We are asking for your support in taking this action. Please show your support, forward this email on, come and visit us for a cup of tea.

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Homeless members of the University Council — Ian Andrew Renard, Glyn Conrad Davis, Philippa Pattison, Peter Dawkins, Melanie Sloss, Meredith Doig, Robert Niven Johanson, Elizabeth Alexander, Irene Elizabeth Lawson, David Ronald White, Eda Natalie Sandford Ritchie, Lynne Landy, Virginia Mansour, Alex Chernov, Rosa Storelli, Glenn Bowes, Mark Joshi, Michael Francis Coyle, Sally Beattie and Hannah Hayman — are expected to throw their full weight behind SHAC’s proposal at the next meeting of Council, to be held on Monday, September 1 @ 4.00pm. SHAC also has an online petition you can sign here. See also : Un-commodification (July 2, 2008) | ‘Home Sweet Squat’ (June 18, 2007) | Brazil: Occupations of the Poor & Homeless (Melbourne, too) (July 27, 2007) | End the rot // Squat the lot (March 1, 2007) | Police evict/ing aspaceoutside and the wake (November 17, 2006) | And really, you shouldn’t miss the BBC episode of Lefties, ‘Property is Theft’. Part One: “Marxists, Lenninists and assorted middle class dimwits attempt to bring down the capitalist system by SQUATTING!” as the rather ungenerous cwxyzallen puts it… and ah Advisory Service For Squatters (UK) | squat.net

Students squat over homeless crisis
Bridie Smith
The Age
August 21, 2008

ABOUT 20 students barricaded themselves into four terrace houses owned by Melbourne University on Tuesday night, demanding the university address the housing crisis affecting many students.

The buildings in Faraday Street, Carlton, were previously used as the university’s counselling service but have been vacant since 2005. University welfare officer Allegra Reinalda said the houses should be used for student accommodation as they could sleep 25, and up to 40 if renovated. The students said they would remain in the houses for as long as possible.

In July, university vice-chancellor Glyn Davis said more than 400 students were, in effect, homeless. The Bradley review into higher education is likely to recommend that student income support be improved.

The Bradley Review is being spearheaded by Emeritus Professor Denise Bradley (who, to the best of my knowledge, is not homeless). Other expert members of the review panel are Peter Noonan (among other things, “a consultant and adviser to the Minister for Employment Education and Training, the Hon JS Dawkins, during the higher education reforms under the Hawke government”); corporate executive Helen Nugent; and technocrat Bill Scales. The Review of Australian Higher Education Discussion Paper June 2008 says fuck-all about housing as an issue; buggered if I know why Bridie thinks the Review is likely to recommend that student income support be improved. Macquarie University Vice Chancellor Steven Schwartz reckons students should be granted the privilege of borrowing even more money from the government (that is, in addition to HECS) to pay for housing, food and transport. Like some kinda Basic Survival Contribution Scheme (BSCS).

Personally, I think those students unwilling or unable to sell drugs, prostitute themselves, or rob yuppie scum as they amble their way through one of Melbourne’s many fabulous public gardens should be encouraged to sell the advertising rights to their skin to the advertising industry (in, say, the shape of some kinda semi-permanent facial tattooing); or, in the case of the uglier ones, the rich should be given the opportunity to sponsor a limb or a brain… I’m speaking of charity (as useful in a hospital as elsewhere). It’s sad, but there will always be some, The Poor, who are unable to pay, through no fault of their own. So I’m asking the better off to donate some money, to sponsor a limb, or a brain.

Students barricade vacant uni building calling for low-cost housing
Sarah Wotherspoon
Herald Sun
August 20, 2008

STUDENTS have barricaded a Melbourne University-owned property demanding an end to the student housing crisis.

About 25 members from the Student Housing Action Collective have taken over a property in Faraday St Carlton that has been left vacant since 2005.

The group wants the university to turn the property into a low-cost student housing co-operative.

SHAC spokeswoman Anja Kanngieser said a recent study showed 440 Melbourne University students were effectively homeless, relying on the kindness of friends or others to get a bed at night.

“The problem is there’s just not really enough rental properties and rental prices are skyrocketing,” she said.

“A lot of students are low income earners and many receive welfare and it’s very hard to get affordable rental properties when you’re on Centrelink.”

She said the crisis was affecting both local and international students and put added pressure on students trying to study and support themselves.

Ms Kanngieser said the group welcomed Melbourne University’s future plans for student accommodation but said action needed to be taken now to help struggling students.

“We’re in negotiations with the university, but we’ll be here as long as it takes for something to happen.”

About @ndy

I live in Melbourne, Australia. I like anarchy. I don't like nazis. I enjoy eating pizza and drinking beer. I barrack for the greatest football team on Earth: Collingwood Magpies. The 2020 premiership's a cakewalk for the good old Collingwood.
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33 Responses to Students squat University of Melbourne property

  1. Kakariki says:

    yay SHAC, that’s so ace. Stick it to the landlords.

  2. Ken says:

    life is extremely livable on youth allowance.

    whatever your feelings are on welfare and recipients, you’re a fool to spend three or four years at university without youth allowance.

  3. @ndy says:

    Ken,

    Re Youth Allowance:

    The maximum fortnightly payment if you are:–

    under 18 years and living at home is $194.50
    under 18 years and not living at home is $355.40*
    18 years and over and living at home is $233.90
    18 years and over and not living at home is $355.40*
    single with children is $465.60*
    partnered with no children is $355.40*
    partnered with children is $390.20*

    Assuming no other source of income, persons on YA therefore live well below the (Henderson) poverty line. It’s possible to survive on YA, but only barely; that’s the point. To describe these rates as meaning that YA is “extremely livable” is a gross exaggeration.

    “you’re a fool to spend three or four years at university without youth allowance.” — I don’t understand this statement.

  4. Ultimate Hater says:

    Let’s not forget the part where you don’t even qualify for youth/student allowance if you are 18 – 25 and your parents combined income is over something like 48k annually.

  5. sanjay says:

    Dear sir,

    I and my wife are going to melbourne and we are reaching on 4th of sept this year so we need a room within 350 dollar maximum per month for both can you plz arrange my wife will study at Meridian International hotel school.

    regards,

    [sanjay]

  6. Peter says:

    [Fly Away Peter.]

  7. Dean T says:

    Good on them…though it’s typical that the media has only picked up the story because it’s about the struggles of the soon to be affluent students…whereas when poorer people squat houses, the media brands them as lazy, welfare grubs with drug problems. You can always rely on the media to screw up a good story…years ago when there was a couple of houses squatted in Capel St, Nth Melbourne, and the police was trying to evict the squatters, they were approached by the ABC…that bastion of fair-go and unbiased reporting, to give their side of the issue. The usual stories were told…rents becoming too high, discrimination against young renters, etc…and what the ABC eventually broadcast was a story that picked on the squatters…criticised their lifestyle, hygiene, etc. We all learnt (including those of us that didn’t even live there at the time) that the media is a pack of whores…paid for to prop up the ruling class, and nothing else.

    Bring back the Squatters Info Service! Squat or Rot!

  8. Pingback: Who needs sex when our Uni’s are f*%^ing us over! « I Want To Live Here

  9. Kate says:

    There are 15 months from end of high school to start of uni. You can apply for YA after 18 months out. You can live the first 3 months of uni off the savings from 15 months of work. Award wages are very good at the moment in things like hospitality, you should easily be able to rent, work and save a bit for 15 months. You can work on YA don’t forget. Around $120.00 a week maximum earnings I think from memory? Full YA is $426.00 (someone correct me if I’m wrong). Tell me how you are unable to live on around $1700 a month? Without even factoring savings from forgoing YA over the summer breaks to work full time, or the savings you should have from your 15 months off after high school. At a maximum in a run down share house rent is $700 a month. Keep the lights off as much as possible, borrow textbooks and buy your clothes at Savers and you can get by on around $200 – 250 a week.

    It is not easy, but not impossible. And some people do find themselves unexpectedly having to support themselves but YA can usually be gained in those circumstances. For the majority of you, you’re just lazy bludgers who think it is your ‘right’ to go straight to uni from high school. No course except for med is so demanding that you cannot work 1 8 hour shift a week. You all seem to find plenty of time to engage in the politics of student housing and running theatre groups at your house. Students need more money/support but we won’t get it when we have squatters dominating the discussion in place of the hard working students who carefully planned for uni and scrimp and save. There is no excuse for squatting, in the eyes of the general public you make other students look bad and make it harder to win political support for better student benefits. Why don’t you try living somewhere a little less trendy? There is an entire ring of suburbs within a 20 min train/tram ride to the city. You all just want to live in trendy Carlton, Fitzroy and Brunswick with your mates rather than with people you may not necessarily like that much out in suburban Essendon. The majority of students in Sydney commute over an hour to uni, we have it so easy here.

    The squatters do not represent the majority of student’s situations or the best way to assist. We don’t need more cash, we need more books included, courses for low income students, steeper discounts on transport and utilities bills etc. Ease the cost of living, more politically palatable for the public, not up YA, people like the squatters would just piss it away anyway.

  10. @ndy says:

    “There are 15 months from end of high school to start of uni.”

    Huh?

  11. paul says:

    There is so much wrong with Kate’s post but for starters and you did ask to be corrected Kate there are about eleven different YA payment rates depending on a person’s circumstances, including whether a person lives away from home or at home.

    Anyway the maximum YA payment is $465.60 per fortnight for a single young person with children.

    A single person living away from home aged 18 and over is entitled to $233.90 per fortnight.

    Rent assistance may be payable in some cases.

    Everyone who works in the field of social security advocacy knows that the YA rates are manifestly unfair and inadequate.

    For example recipients of the maximum YA rate payable who are not in paid employment subsist 38-54% beneath the Henderson Poverty Line.

    Full YA is not then $426 per week as you impute.

    I think you are an ignoramus.

  12. Beth Rankin says:

    Seems that APATHY has won again!
    This was such a great BLOG and deserved a heap more energy and fire than this, or has Kate’s response left us all speechless or maybe everyone decided she was right and decided to change from being lazy bludgers and have gone off to find work serving drinks! If only life were so simple. How dare she suggest that if you want to live near the uni that is a matter of pride i.e. wanting to be trendy!
    It seems Kate, that you are not aware of how lucky you are and that you have enough to allow you to make the choices you have made including being able to choose where you live and work.
    Actually Kate, why are you so cynical about your fellow students. Of course some piss away their YA but that is part of learning and being young but MOST don’t.
    At least you did try and offer some solutions but I think you are unaware of just how bad it is for those who are having to squat.
    I suggest that you go and live on the streets or as a homeless student for a while and see if you still have the same self-righteous attitudes then.

  13. @ndy says:

    G’day Beth,

    Trolls eh? They come and go. Hopefully, SHAC will last a little longer. Speaking of which…

    SHACstravaganza!

    WHEN : Friday, October 31, 2008, 2–9pm
    WHERE : The Love SHAC, 272–278 Faraday Street, Carlton

    Come celebrate any number of things with us on the last day of classes for 2008! Come for a fabulous afternoon of feasts, friends & fun. BBQ with Meat, Vegan and Vegetarian options.

    Performances featuring:

    – Rod Quantock
    – Rosalie Delaney
    – Ella McDonald
    – Curtis Redd
    – Tracey Boyd

    – SHAC: The Musical by Fregmonto Stokes.

    – Jason Freddi Band
    – Everything Is New Now
    – Psuche ensemble

    – karaoke and lots, lots more!

    http://shacmelbourne.blogspot.com/

  14. miguel juan says:

    This is about a bunch of pretentious undergraduates with a naive sense of entitlement. “Because we haven’t adequately planned for our situation, we’re going to hijack buildings owned by someone else, not give an inch, and then demand that the owner lets us do whatever we want with them.”

    If the uni wasn’t afraid of bad publicity, I’d have already seen the pleasure of water cannons on the evening news, giving these students their first good wash in semesters.

  15. @ndy says:

    Words of wisdom.

  16. william says:

    miguel juan
    Nov 27th, 2008 at 9:52 am

    This is about a bunch of pretentious undergraduates

    Actually – having been there, I met 3/4s postgrad. I’d prefer to see teargas used after resisting arrest.

  17. Lizard says:

    Oh the fucking entitlement.

    More middle class welfare dressed up as activism. Inner city living costs money, if you don’t have any then why the hell are you going to uni there? Live within your damn means. There are plenty of universities in Australia, attend one that has more affordable rental in the vicinity, don’t go whining about why someone won’t give you free rent in the most expensive part of town. Poor babies.

  18. Lanklan says:

    Lizard,
    If someone wants to create a career as an academic it helps to attend a university which is viewed positively amongst the academic community, which means they need the name of a wanky university on their degree. It so happens that in Australia, the Group 8 universities all exist within areas where rental prices are high. Are you suggesting that the “elite” universities should be reserved only for the rich? You sound like a classist moron who needs to step outside of their own privilege and empathise with people who haven’t been born into the financial means to attend a university.

  19. Lizard says:

    Are you suggesting you’re not a bunch of middle-class kids who want it all given to them on a plate? Give me a break. As if the only way to obtain a “career as an academic” (oh sure – that’s what SHAC is all about) is to attend a blue-ribbon uni and live in a blue-ribbon suburb.

    People travel for hours to attend Melbourne Uni. From Geelong, from Ballarat, from Bendigo, from Monbulk. Sure, that sucks. Hell, some people even live with their PARENTS *gasp*.

    You sound like a bunch of spoilt brats who wants it all their own way, without obstacle or compromise. You have no sympathy from me.

    That said, I completely support cooperative housing. I’m a veteran of it and can only speak well of it in terms of community health and affordability. Getting a model up supported by the University would be nice, but may I suggest the gentle art of compromise?

  20. Leland says:

    Can someone direct me to info about the squatters? Where are they from? What are their backgrounds?

  21. @ndy says:

    There’s a rally tomorrow at midday. If you really want to know more, I suggest you attend. Otherwise…

    Point made, it’s time to move on
    Miki Perkins
    The Age
    January 6, 2009

    Blog : http://shacmelbourne.blogspot.com/

  22. Leland says:

    Cannot attend the rally. I live overseas, but am having a debate with a friend. Are the squatters from melbourne? Are they trustafarians or legitimately in need?

  23. @ndy says:

    I’ll keep yas posted…

  24. Leland says:

    any info yet. I suspect that if they were really students in need then somebody would have mentioned it by now.

  25. @ndy says:

    Huh? What info? You’d attend the rally but you’re overseas? If they were students somebody would have told you?

    You make no sense.

  26. Leland says:

    Don’t be confused. You told me to attend the rally to learn more about the squatters, but that was impossible because I’m in another country. You directed me to links that had information about the legal situation, but not about the backgrounds of the students.

    The questions are simple: Are the squatters from Melbourne (that means, do their families live in or near melbourne)? Are they from low-income households?

    To further clarify, when I say students in need, I mean to question whether or not the squatters have any other options. If their families live in Melbourne then they could live at home. If they are afluent, then they are taking a house from people who really do need help.

    Hopefully I’ve made myself more clear.

  27. @ndy says:

    OK.

    “Are the squatters from Melbourne (that means, do their families live in or near Melbourne)?” Afaik, yes. There are a few exceptions though. Regarding their socio-economic status and background I dunno. That’s a little more difficult to establish…

    I’m writing a post on the subject which should answer these questions in more detail.

  28. f u losers says:

    F U scumbags…

    if u lazy pricks, didnt get pissed at bars, take smack, eccys and speed. instead of going to your lectures, which will eventually turn you into the rich upper business pricks you hate right now

    you’d be ok, and have some $ for food [&] rent

    Get FUCKED WANKERS… do a days work, like the rest of us

  29. @ndy says:

    Sounds like someone needs a hug. Or maybe a tickle?

  30. Trolls... says:

    Try being an international graduate student… The uni gives us about $150/week financial aid allotment, yet rents exceed far beyond that if you live in a reasonable proximity to the university. Students are targeted by every accommodation provider in Melbourne. Unilodge D2 is a perfect example… $315-$545/week. Hell, MICM charges you $1200 for ‘cleaning’ simply because you are a student and not a professional. I called them out on it in the office and the lady at the desk just shook her head and looked down at her desk in shame because she knows it’s wrong, but they do it anyway.

    Higher education is the second largest contributor to Melbourne’s GDP. The entire market has adjusted to capitalize on the student market regardless of where you are from… It’s not bitching. It’s a simple fact.

    What happened to the equality, chance to get a good education (ability to focus on it rather than all of this senseless monetary rubbish) and opportunity to work hard, play hard afterwards? That was Australia… we want it back.

    *hugs and tickles for all the haters

  31. Nathan says:

    I got by just fine on Youth Allowance, lived in the suburbs in a share house, caught the train. I was eligible for about $412 a fortnight at the time. It isn’t easy being on Youth Allowance but you can get by without having to squat. Plus it isn’t really the University’s problem if their students are homeless, that’s more of a State or Federal gov’t issue.

  32. @ndy says:

    Discarded pizza boxes are an inexpensive source of cheese.

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