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Archbishop's Conversation to address housing 'scandal'

Archbishop Philip Freier, Lord Mayor Sally Capp and economist Brendan Coates to discuss housing crisis

By Stephen Cauchi

October 4 2019Victoria’s housing crisis will be examined by Archbishop Philip Freier, Melbourne Lord Mayor Sally Capp, and economist Brendan Coates at the forthcoming Archbishop’s Conversation at Federation Square.

To be held on Wednesday October 9, the Conversation – entitled “The scandal of Victoria’s housing crisis” – will address the cost of housing and homelessness, the social problems this causes, and potential solutions.

Mr Coates (who works for the Grattan Institute), the Archbishop and Ms Capp will be joined by former ABC religious broadcaster John Cleary, who will moderate the discussion.

“It’s an issue for young people, it’s an issue for those who are on minimum wages … and it’s a continuing issue for the homeless,” Mr Cleary told TMA.

Currently, the older generation could downsize their home to fund their retirement, he said. However, those who were renting are “not going to have the money when they retire to fund their retirement,” he said.

“For young people … this creates a huge problem.”

Governments may also have to step in to fix the problem of homelessness, he said.

In the 1950s and 1960s, governments were involved in slum removal, he said. “When that happened … a lot of the churches and charities moved out of the area of housing provision. The big night shelters closed down,” he said.

“Well, we’ve now got to ask questions – do these things need to be revived? Because you’re looking at large numbers of homeless people in our major urban centres and Melbourne is probably the best example of it.”

Churches also had to ask to what extent they needed to be involved in housing policy to prevent housing problems in the first place.

“It’s a long-standing argument in religious circles about whether it’s better to be the ambulance at the bottom of the cliff or the fence at the top,” he said.

The Conversation, which will be held at Deakin Edge, Federation Square, will start at the morning time of 7.30am. Admission is free and there’s no need to book.