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Tenant participation in public housing

Since June 2000, FACS (formerly Housing NSW) has actively encouraged tenants to get involved and play a part in shaping the delivery of public housing through tenant participation and consultation.

Funding is set aside each year by FACS to run a number of activities that enable tenants to have a say in decisions that affect their homes and neighbourhoods.

Tenant Participation initiatives are supported by nominated District staff at a local level, and corporately by Community Homes and Place in Ashfield.

Tenant participation aims to build partnerships between tenants and social housing providers to:

  • Improve the skills, knowledge and ultimately the quality of life of social housing tenants
  • Support and strengthen communities
  • Improve the way social housing is delivered and managed

Tenant participation initiatives include:

Community Greening

In recent years, many hectares of land on NSW social housing areas have been devoted to community gardening.

Over 50,000 residents have participated in the scheme, sharing valuable skills and friendships as they work to improve their local environment. Across NSW, abandoned back-lots, wasteland and balconies have been converted into areas growing vegetables, fruit and flowers.

By supporting community gardens in social housing areas, FACS helps build safer and stronger communities.

Growing communities

By providing a range of activities and attracting strong community involvement, the gardens have:

  • increased tenant involvement in community life
  • encouraged interaction and stronger communication between tenants of diverse ages and backgrounds
  • provided an outlet for healthy exercise and a healthy food source
  • allowed tenants to acquire a range of vocational skills in gardening, planning, teamwork, resource allocation and decision making
  • given tenants a genuine sense of pride and accomplishment, and
  • improved people’s understanding and appreciation of their physical environment

Community gardens are a focal point for people to share valuable gardening skills, produce and friendships. They make a significant contribution to improved social cohesion, crime reduction and public health in both urban and regional New South Wales.

Partnership approach

Community gardens are supported under the Community Greening Program - a partnership between FACS and the Royal Botanic Gardens and Domain Trust, with additional support from Eden Foundation and the involvement of local councils, community housing providers, non-government organisations and private sponsors.

Greening areas

There are over 200 gardening projects on or near social housing areas across NSW from Minto to Dubbo, including:

  • Community gardeners in Redfern, a high density public housing estate in inner city Sydney, have formed a community ‘beautification’ group and been supported to design, create and maintain their buildings’ garden areas. Residents from diverse backgrounds (including Aboriginal, Russian, Vietnamese and Chinese) have created a flourishing cactus garden as well as communal herbs and vegetable gardens. These keen gardeners have begun cultivating plants to expand their greening to neighbouring buildings.
  • Popular community gardens in Telopea, Lalor Park and Gladesville were each awarded first place in their respective local government community garden competitions in 2015.
  • Community gardens in Albury produce vegetables, fruit and flowers and are branching out into “bush tucker” planting including lemon myrtle, finger lime and pigface. Albury residents say that the gardens bring the community together and allows them to create a safe and respectful place.
  • Community gardens in Taree, involve a number of local organisations, including local high schools and employment services. The space is divided into a number of sections used by the various community groups and partners. The community gardens are working with local schools to create a Rainbow Serpent Garden, building on the established children’s sensory garden. This project has been supported by the donation of a large quantity of plants.

Role of FACS

FACS helps people living in social housing to establish and maintain community gardens by:

  • advertising the Community Greening program in FACS newsletters
  • making land available for community gardens
  • continuing to build partnerships with other service providers
  • supporting linkages between tenant employment and training programs and Community Greening initiatives.

Community Greening supporters

The following organisations and business support the program through in-kind agreements:

  • Eden Foundation and Eden Gardens
  • Oasis Horticulture
  • Northcote Pottery
  • Major’s Mulch
  • Alpine Nurseries
  • Plantmark Nursery
  • Yates

The Royal Botanic Garden Community Greening page has advice on setting up a community garden and contact details for local community gardens.

Housing Communities program

FACS provides grant funding under the Housing Communities Program (HCP) to eligible organisations to build cohesion and to improve community wellbeing in locations across NSW affected by significant social, economic, environmental and/or housing change. Funds provided are primarily used to employ staff to work with social housing communities to address priority needs in the selected locations.

Housing Communities Program providers

FACS District

Program location

Organisation

Contact Details

Nepean Blue Mountains

Cranebrook / Kingswood Park

Nepean Community & Neighbourhood Services

02 4721 8520
info@nepeancommunity.org.au

South Western Sydney

Ambarvale / Rosemeadow

The Junction Works Limited

02 8777 0500
info@thejunctionworks.org

Western Sydney

Mt Druitt

UCA – Parramatta Nepean Presbytery

02 9835 3720
john@mtdruittcommunityministry.org.au

Sydney

Redfern / Waterloo

Counterpoint Community Services (formerly The Factory Community Centre)

02 9698 9569
admin@counterpointcs.org.au

South Eastern Sydney

Riverwood

Riverwood Community Centre

02 9533 0117 or 02 9533 0100
centre@riverwoodcommunity.org.au

Illawarra Shoalhaven

Southern suburbs of Wollongong

Warrawong Residents Forum Incorporated

02 4275 1875
hcpwarrawong@live.com.au

Western NSW

Dubbo

Dubbo City Council

02 6801 4403
john.watts@dubbo.nsw.gov.au

Murrumbidgee

Wagga Wagga

The Red Cross

02 6937 3140 or 02 6937 3143
jpocius@redcross.org.au

Tenant Participation Resource Services program

The Tenant Participation Resource Services program (TPRS) is a FACS initiative to provide social housing tenants with increased access to information, advice and opportunities to more actively participate in processes related to their housing, as well as to engage in their communities.

The TPRS Program goals are to ensure social housing tenants:

  • are engaged in communities
  • have their needs and priorities identified and considered in planning and service delivery
  • are informed about their rights and responsibilities and are supported with their housing needs
  • have the skills and resources to participate in community life
  • receive services that are coordinated, flexible and responsive to their needs.

Tenant Participation Resource Service

FACS District TPRS LocationOrganisation Contact Details
South Western Sydney South Western Sydney South Western Regional Tenant Association 9821 1700
swrtainc@bigpond.com
Sydney Central Sydney North Inner Sydney Regional Council for Social Development 9698 6558
david.white@innersydneyrcsd.org.au
South Eastern Sydney Central Sydney South Riverwood Community Centre9584 8473
cssrtrs@bigpond.com.au
Hunter New England Hunter and Central Coast Samaritans Foundation4993 3450
1800 786 466 (toll free)
rfowles@samaritans.org.au
Hunter New England New England and North Coast Northern Links NSW Incorporated 6771 3236
1800 088 592 (toll free)
norlinks@gmail.com
Illawarra Shoalhaven Illawarra and South East NSW Illawarra Forum Incorporated4256 4366
1800 088 592 (toll free)
info@illawarraforum.org.au
Western NSW Western NSW Centacare Wilcannia-Forbes1300 488 076 (toll free)
housing@centacarewf.org.au
Murrumbidgee Riverina Murray Intereach NSW Incorporated6051 7800
1300 488 226 (toll free)
tprs@intereach.com.au

Tenant Participation and Community Engagement Program

The aim of the TPCE is to improve outcomes for FACS housing tenants. It does this by making it easier for tenants to access information and advice about their housing, and by providing tenants with more opportunities to be involved in decisions on their tenancies and communities.

More information is available on the TPCE factsheet

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