Sydney Alliance – February activities

Westmead Assembly – 28th February

We are proud to share some positive outcomes from the Sydney Alliance Assembly last week, where 937 people gathered to put pressure on politicians from the Labor and Liberal parties to commit to our key asks. Delegations from over 45 organisations helped to coordinate the Assembly, and Shelter NSW is proud to stand amongst this incredible crowd.

The highlight of the night was when seven diverse Western Sydneysiders shared their stories of climate, energy, and housing stress. Having heard these stories, the Asks were put to each political representative. Jenny Leong MP, representing the NSW Greens, committed to continue working with the Sydney Alliance from the crossbench, advocating and supporting our issues. Shadow Treasurer Daniel Mookhey (ALP), and NSW Government Treasurer Matt Kean were pressed more specifically on each of the key Asks, with some positive outcomes and some indications that further collaboration was possible. 

Both major parties agreed in principle to radically boosting the supply of social and affordable housing to ensure that people on low incomes, key workers, and those experiencing homelessness have a safe and secure place to live. Additionally, both parties have agreed that any new social and affordable housing homes delivered through development partnerships will remain so in perpetuity. We are delighted that both candidates for treasurer have also agreed to meet with Sydney Alliance partner organisations within the first 100 days of forming government to discuss the issues facing temporary migrants and bring the relevant ministers.

Shelter NSW CEO, John Engeler, speaks to the Assembly

Furthermore, both Treasurers have committed to meet at least once a year during the next term in a public assembly, demonstrating their commitment to continuing these conversations and working towards solutions, regardless of who wins the state election later this month.

Labor also made a priority commitment to ending no-grounds eviction, including critically at the end of fixed term and during periodic tenancies. While the Liberal party response on this issue was less clear, they indicated that they were exploring the matter further, and in an announcement last week confirmed that they would commit to ending ‘no grounds evictions’ for people on periodic or ‘rolling’ leases. This is a huge step forward on this issue, and we commend the tireless work of the Tenants Union NSW in particular who have pushed for such an outcome for decades. Finally, there were some complexities in the politicians’ responses on energy measures, housing and planning, and community energy hubs. However, most of the “no” responses were contextual and opened up conversations for further discussion, indicating that there is potential for progress on these issues in the future.

Overall, we are proud of the role that Shelter NSW has played in achieving these positive outcomes, and we look forward to continuing to work towards creating safe, affordable, and secure housing for all. Thank you to everyone who attended and contributed to the success of the night.

If you would like to get involved in our work with the Sydney Alliance, please reach out to our Membership & Engagement Coordinator via email –

Shelter NSW will also be appearing as expert speakers for the Hunter Community Alliance community forums tonight (Wednesday 8 March) and Thursday night (9 March). The Alliance is platforming three key asks:

  1. Restore the social housing safety net of all local government areas within the Hunter to 5% of total housing stock by 2027, and increase social housing stock at least every three years once social housing reaches the 5% target
  2. Replace ‘no grounds evictions’ provisions with ‘reasonable grounds evictions’
  3. Commit to at least 50% social and affordable housing at any future residential development at the proposed Hunter Park.

You can register to attend the online forums here:
Wednesday 8 March: Wallsend, Cessnock, Maitland, and Port Stephens, 6.30pm
Thursday 9 March: Newcastle, Lake Macquarie, Charlestown, and Swansea, 6.30pm

Solidarity Seminar – 15th February

Earlier in February our Membership & Engagement Coordinator James delivered a seminar to the Alliance’s current group of 35 Assistant Organisers, a fantastic group of students studying social work at Western Sydney University. The seminar covered the basics of the housing and planning systems in NSW, and unpacked exactly why public housing is such an important part of these systems. This subject is unfortunately not a standard part of the degree curriculum at most universities, and social workers in Australia often leave university with only a basic understanding of the housing system and its failures. Shelter NSW is very glad to have the opportunity to provide an overview of this subject to these students as part of our work with the Alliance, as navigating the difficulties and complexities of the NSW housing system will be a core part of the work of a practicing social worker.

The seminar also reinforced the importance of collective action as the only effective long-term solution to the housing crisis. While finding accommodation for individual clients is crucial, social workers must also be working collectively to demand real policy reform and structural change if there is any hope of resolving the underlying issues that force people into housing stress and homelessness. Congratulations to this group of Assistant Organisers on all their fantastic work so far, and we are very much looking forward to working more closely with them over the course of their semester with the Alliance!

Renters Hub

It’s been a busy month with the Sydney Alliance! Through the Alliance, we were also involved in supporting the ‘Renters Hub’ initiative – a collaboration between Tenants Union NSW, Democracy in Colour, Make Renting Fair, and other organisations.

We joined the Hub in Parramatta and heard from local renters about the serious pressures facing them in the increasingly precarious rental market.
Many people were concerned about heat and energy. A group of young housemates even stopped to chat with us on the way back from their hearing at the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal, where they were working to get air conditioning installed in their unbearably hot apartment.

Other renters spoke to us about the increasing burden of rent itself, with people paying up to 60-70% of their income in rent, and others forced to move out of the area to find more affordable accommodation. Others have the opposite problem, facing violence in their current home but unable to move due to skyrocketing rents across Sydney.

Most commonly though, we heard of the pressure renters feel when faced with their landlord’s power to evict them for no reason at all. No grounds evictions mean that all other rights renters have won in NSW are, in practice, obsolete. As one renter said to us: “We can be evicted at any time, for no reason. And it so difficult to push back”.

We are proud to stand with renters in pushing for a better deal and a fairer housing system. These stories are why we are so excited at the news of an end to ‘no grounds’ evictions for periodic leases, a reform that has been won as a result of years of public pressure. We are sure that the stories gathered at the Renters Hub and shared with politicians at the Sydney Alliance Assembly last week were influential in prompting this shift in the NSW Liberal Party. Thank you to everyone who organised, contributed to, or shared their story with the Renters Hub over the last month!