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.
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
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
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.”