Country regions right behind the renters rights revolution – now a national movement
Renters Alliance (RA) WA coordinator Lea Keenan said that every week now Blackwood residents, renters and some who are home owners, are joining the movement and "are motivated for a united pursuance for legislation to make life fair for everyone."
Rally – August 15 – WA State Parliament – Rallies Australia-wide – October 16 – every capital city and many towns.
Bridgetown's Jenny Kaeshagen and Louise O'Shea will be speakers at the Renters Rights Rally at state parliament on August 15, and both are now spokespersons for the RA which is growing into a an organised national movement with rallies in every capital city slated for October 16.
National Renters Alliance formed to deal with poverty and homelessness.
Bridgetown renter Louise Fleay said the RA is "a beacon of hope, a ray of sunshine in what are bleak times for those who rent."
"It's tough for most renters however with no real rights and protections for renters, and greed and the blind eye the general norm by those distant from our plight, well as things are getting tougher for renters something has got to give and for many of us it really needs to be soon," said Ms Fleay.
Ms Keenan said towns like Bridgetown and Manjimup, country towns are contextually generally forgotten in the cost of living debates. "We care about everyone, and this is what everything is about - rights and protections for everyone, and these can only be achieved by so doing what's fair and legislating this fairness. We are all about bringing down the crazy metropolitan rents which for Perth have got up to a median of $450 per week and trickling their effect to the regions, like the South West, the Great Southern, the Blackwood."
"Towns like Bridgetown, Manjimup and Donnybrook should not have rents in excess of $200 per week, no way. We have to take into account the lower incomes, high cost of living pressures, the food miles and various subsidies taken on by families to live in community settings like these and keep alive these towns in the first place. There has to be regulatory rent practices and we have to regulate rents in relation to size of home however also in relation to regions," said Ms Keenan.
"There's a lot of the Australian Silence in country regions and people tough it out, but there comes a point where people have to speak up for the sake of bettering the future for themselves and their children, for their community as a whole."
"Politicians are taking notice and all of a sudden thanks to our campaigning they are saying that renting will be a major issue at elections. I say it will be the issue, and so many other issues are tied to it."
"We have a number of campaigns we must press with because we can't let politicians skew the conversation to just the high rents greedy investors and realtors in the North West are trying to extract from mining workers - the $1000 and much more. We are fighting these too but rents have got to come down everywhere and the reductions and rent schedules legislated among other sorely needed conditions," she said.
The WA Council of Social Services (WACOSS) found that emergency relief groups across regional WA are not coping with increasing demands from low income earners, most of them renters, and from increasing homelessness.
WACOSS said welfare agencies are handing out petrol vouchers because people living in their cars in and around country towns have to drive around to avoid fines from shire rangers.
WACOSS confirmed that a growing number of the South West's residents cannot afford firewood or bottled gas necessary for heating and cooking. This followed a report in the Donnybrook-Bridgetown Mail of two Bridgetown families, renters, who could not afford a trailer load of firewood for the winter. The Human Rights Alliance paid for two $120 loads of firewood for at least these two families.
Charities, such as Swags for the Homeless, are giving out more tents than usual to the South West's homeless. WACOSS reported that in Albany three charities bought a caravan for emergency housing for families because crisis accommodation is full.
"We are experiencing more demand than ever for our services," WACOSS chief executive officer Irina Cattalini said.
Meals-on-Wheels Manjimup, run by the Home and Community Care branch of the Manjimup Shire Council, and manager Liz Lockyear, deliver hot lunches to about seventy children in their patch, usually 20 to 25 lunches are managed each day.
"If we get renters rights in place, believe you me there'll be a domino effect that will fix many things for just about everyone," said Ms Keenan.
"Everyone will benefit, and equitably so, even retailers and that's because if you lower rents, with nearly 70% of the population in private or public rent, well that's money freed up to spend elsewhere, on quality of life. Businesses in country towns are doing it tough, they'd benefit, it's a win win situation we're after, and justice for all."
To JOIN or for more INFORMATION on the RENTERS RIGHTS MOVEMENT email firstname.lastname@example.org
And visit humanrightsalliance.org
Gerry Georgatos - PhD researcher and HRA coordinator, email@example.com, 0430 657 309
Jenny Kaeshagen – PhD researcher and Renters Alliance spokersperson, 0412 833 733
Lea Keenan – Renters Alliance campaign coordinator, firstname.lastname@example.org
Homelessness rates in the Kimberley are the worst in the nation and getting even worse