Tuesday, 21 February 2023


St Vincent’s Care Eltham

Nicholas McGOWAN

St Vincent’s Care Eltham

Nicholas McGOWAN (North-Eastern Metropolitan) (17:42): (43) I rise to discuss the decommissioning of the independent living units at St Vincent’s Care Services in Eltham. The action I seek is for the Minister for Housing to meet with the 52 residents that are impacted by the decommissioning and for the minister to obtain from St Vincent’s the independent advice they are relying upon to make the decision to decommission the homes that those 52 people currently occupy. Further, I seek action from the minister to assure those 52 Australians that they will be no worse off at the conclusion of the decommissioning.

The history of this area and this particular service goes back some years. It goes back in fact to a point in time in 2016 when Syrian and Iraqi refugees were housed. A large number of those were relocated some time ago. At that point in time the Commonwealth government had agreed to accept in the order of 12,000 refugees. Today the rationale given to those people – who now have established homes, friendships and connections with the community and access to health services and all sorts of facilities provided by the community and by the council itself – is that their arrangements, their homes, are unfit for service, unfit for occupancy, and that they require significant ongoing maintenance. The figure that is being used is in the order of $20 million to rebuild the housing on the existing site. St Vincent’s have advised that they do not have those funds. In fact they state, ‘We do not have access to those funds’, and therefore they have made a decision as a not-for-profit to discontinue those services. Of course you would understand that for those affected this is a stressful and a fearful period, which is why what I have asked the minister to do is so important to the people in that community.

I had the good fortune on Monday of this week to meet with near to 30, 35, maybe 40 of the residents affected. They have very specific needs. It is also complicated because at least half, if not more, speak Arabic alone. I was assisted on the day by a translator, but it is also clear to me that these citizens will require not only project support from St Vincent’s but importantly that it be bilingual, because otherwise they have every fear that they will not receive the sort of accommodation that we would like them to be entitled to and I think that all Victorians would expect.