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Tenants Union of Victoria

Tenants Union of Victoria website

Who: The Tenants Union of Victoria [TUV] grew out of a grassroots protest group of tenants from a complex in Parkville. From its start in the mid-1970s, TUV fought for tenants to be recognised as consumers. Consumer rights was a new movement that was gaining popularity in this period and TUV ensured that tenants were as well protected as the general purchasing public. They also campaigned for an update to the Residential Tenancies Act which was outdated and didn’t address the news of the modern tenant. The new Act of 1980 is still the one that governs today. TUV was also instrumental in the establishment of the Residential Tenancies Bond Authority, a neutral body that holds tenants’ bonds in trust, taking the power away from the landlord.

What: Today, TUV assists over 30,000 public and private tenants per year as well as leading the way for policy reform on the behalf of all renters. They provide a wealth of information and education to tenants about their rights via their website or on the phone and seek to improve the condition and status of tenants in Victoria. TUV offer a free and confidential service to all Victorian renters no matter if you're a public or private housing tenant or you live in a caravan or rooming house.

The Real Estate Institute of Victoria

The Real Estate Institute of Victoria website 

Who: The Real Estate Institute of Victoria [REIV] has been around since 1936, representing the real estate sector with over 2,000 members today. It aims to lead the industry and advance the professionalism of its members while promoting responsible public policy reforms.

What: REIV provides general advice to the public on buying, selling and leasing. You can visit their website to see a full list of their members before making a decision on agent or company. REIV also collates interesting statistics about median Victorian rents, housing prices and general property data which you can break down by suburb.

Victorian Office of Housing

Victorian Office of Housing website

Who: The Victorian Office of Housing [OoH] is the state government department that looks after current and potential public housing tenants. It receives and approves housing applications and takes care of maintenance issues. The OoH website also has information for people who want to know more about the housing situation in Victoria.

What: OoH provides information and advice on crisis accommodation, housing ownership and supported accommodation. They can tell you about your eligibility for different concessions, hardship support and financial advice and counselling to get you back on your feet. You can apply for an OoH bond loan if you meet certain criteria and they can also tell you about available rental assistance as well as what to do if you receive a notice to vacate from your landlord. If you're having trouble staying in your home, they can also give you advice on available grants, concessions and financial support. Or if you’ve got questions about public housing, OoH can provide information about your rights and responsibilities, costs you could be liable for, what to do about maintenance and repairs, temporary absences from your OoH home, training and employment support, how to transfer, swap, move from or buy your OoH property as well as general support and financial support. Lost your OoH form? You can find it on their website.

Community Housing Federation of Victoria

Community Housing Federation of Victoria website

Who: Community Housing Federation of Victoria [CHFV] is the peak body for community housing organisations across the state, representing 73 of them. It doesn’t handle applications but can help you decide which type of provider is best for your needs. Community housing comes in different types including cooperatives, housing associations, rooming houses, specialist providers (aimed at aged care, homeless young people, people living with disabilities, etc) and short term supported transitional housing. CHFV agitates for change and policy reform on behalf of all community housing agencies and tenants and works with community groups, local councils and tenant support providers.

What: Community housing is aimed at individual people and families who are on a low to moderate income. The benefits of community housing include security of tenure, rent that is cheaper than the going market rate and options for tenants who need extra support to stay living in the community. The housing is managed by not for profit organisations who act as the landlord and take care of day to day maintenance issues. Community housing encourages tenants to become involved in their patch to emphasise the feeling of community. You can search for a list of providers in areas across the state by visiting the CHFV website.

Aboriginal Housing Victoria

Aboriginal Housing Victoria website

Who: Aboriginal Housing Victoria [AHV] is a long term housing provider for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander [ATSI] Victorians and is the largest ATSI housing organisation in Australia, managing 1525 properties of which they own 73. AHV house around 4,000 ATSI residents in Victoria and aim to strengthen and maintain ATSI communities and their cultural ties.

What: AHV believe that appropriate and affordable housing is one of the best pathways to better lives and stronger communities for ATSI people. They provide information for current and potential tenants and practical tips on what to do if you have a maintenance issue at your AHV property. Also on their website, you can find all the forms and documents you need for applications, updates and subsidised rent.

Victorian Department of Health & Human Services

Victorian Department of Health & Human Services website

Who: The Victorian Department of Health & Human Services [DHHS], previously known as the Department of Health or DHS, is the State Government department that looks after all issues relating to housing and accommodation, children, families and young people, people living with disabilities, crisis and emergency assistance as well as help with financial support.

What: DHHS provides information on all current and updated services and benefits for the above categories and in particular:

  • Homelesness and accommodation – homelessness support, rental assistance, home owner support and information for supported accommodation, community housing and public housing
  • Children, families and young people – child protection, adoption, permanent, kinship and foster care as well as care leavers, family and early parenting support, family and domestic violence advice and youth justice information
  • Disability – self-directed and individualised support packages, help living at home and being part of your community, job search, career and family support, NDIS, aids and equipment provision as well as specialist services
  • Financial support – concessions you may be eligible for, information about the telephone counselling service, MoneyHelp, advice for owners and renters and disability financial support including for carers
  • Crisis and emergency – crisis accommodation and emergency assistance information, sexual assault advice, financial crisis and domestic and family violence support and how to report child abuse
  • Links to other Victorian Government services – aged care, early childhood education, hospital, health and mental health services, Parentline telephone support and the Working with Children check
  • Links to Commonwealth Government services – Centrelink, Commonwealth concessions and Medicare

To be referred to the right service in your area, call DHHS on 1300 650 172.

Council to Homeless Persons

Council to Homeless Persons website

Who: The Council to Homeless Persons was founded in 1972 and is Victoria's peak body for both organisations and individuals interested in and committed to ending homelessness. CHP runs visible campaigns to promote issues that contribute to homelessness and poverty and encourages the participation of people with lived experience to contribute to the development of policies and practice.

What: CHP provides practical advice, support, information and referrals to individuals experiencing homelessness or who are at risk of becoming homeless through their Homelessness Advocacy Service. They run the Peer Education Support Program [PESP] so that people who have experienced homelessness can have a say in the way that agencies serve them. PESP members are also skilled up in media training and go on to participate in the media and give presentations about their experiences. CHP also produces Parity magazine which looks at homelessness issues from around the country and around the world.

If you need help, call CHP on 1800 825 955 to be connected to the service closest to you. If you call after hours, St Kilda Crisis Centre will assist you.

Victorian Council of Social Service

Victorian Council of Social Service website

Who: The Victorian Council of Social Service [VCOSS] was founded after World War II in response to increasing issues of disadvantage and poverty. From 1946, it has grown to become the peak body and is involved in apolitical campaigning to represent the agencies and individuals who provide and access Victoria's social services. VCOSS is still concerned about the same issues now as it was at its inception; adequate supplies of housing and emergency housing, issues affecting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, appropriate training for people working with children and the contribution to knowledge about young people’s issues, serious social problems such as drug and alcohol misuse, and the social welfare of families on low incomes, migrants and refugees.

What: VCOSS provides information to and advocacy on the behalf of its members across the state, bringing attention to the issues that affect the users of these agencies.

Australian Council of Social Service

Australian Council of Social Service website

Who: The Australian Council of Social Service [ACOSS] is the peak body for community service organisations across Australia, including Victoria’s Council of Social Service [VCOSS]. Founded in 1956, ACOSS is the voice for those agencies, and the individuals who use them, in the ongoing national welfare debate. They aim to ease poverty and inequality for a fair and inclusive society. ACOSS campaign for reform in public policies and provide input through reports and submissions.

What: ACOSS provides information to and advocacy on the behalf of its members across the country, bringing attention to the issues that affect the users of these agencies. For a list of those members, visit the ACOSS website.

1800 Respect National Sexual Assault, Domestic and Family Violence Counselling Service

1800 Respect National Sexual Assault, Domestic and Family Violence Counselling Service website

Phone: 1800 737 732

Who: The National Sexual Assault, Domestic and Family Violence Counselling Service [1800 Respect] is an Australia wide 24 hour a day crisis and trauma counselling service, available both online and on the phone. The telephone service was started in 2010 with Commonwealth Government funding through the Department of Social Service. It was formed under the National Plan to Reduce Violence against Women and their Children 2010–2022 as part of the Government’s aim to reduce violence in Australia.

What: Free counselling is available to anyone needing help with sexual assault or domestic and family violence issues. Information and support is also provided to you or someone close to you when it’s needed. The website has resources for workers and employers on how to support clients, look after staff who work with these clients and guidance on resilience and vicarious trauma.

Men's Referral Service

Men's Referral Service website

Phone: 1300 766 491

Who: The Men's Referral Service has information and advice for men, women and those close to them about family and domestic violence but is aimed at making a difference to the way that men think about the violence and intimidating behaviours they are committing.

What: The Men's Referral Service provides anonymous and confidential telephone information and referrals to services in your area. They can give you advice on intervention orders, behaviour change, anger management, access and custody.

Lifeline

Lifeline website

Phone: 131 114

Who: Started in 1963, Lifeline is a 24 hour crisis support line that receives 1800 calls a day or one every minute. Of these calls, 50 will be from people who are at a high risk of suicide. Today, Lifeline has 1,000 staff and 11,000 volunteers at 60 locations across Australia. You can also access their online crisis chat service through the website.

What: Lifeline provides a free and confidential service and offers immediate support by listening to your issues and giving you referrals to other services, where appropriate. If you are suffering from suicidal thoughts or attempts, personal crisis, anxiety, depression or other mental illness, loneliness, abuse or trauma, work, family or social pressures, Lifeline can support you through the immediate distress. National services they offer include services finder and referrals, Mental Health Resource Centre and National Cannabis Information and Helpline. Locally, they also offer the following services:

  • Suicide prevention
  • Bereavement services
  • Face to face and children’s counselling
  • Financial and gambling counselling
  • Disability and youth services
  • Welfare programs and rural outreach
  • Migrant support services
  • Family and mediation services
  • Education and support groups
  • Aged care visitation information
  • Indigenous and Torres Strait Islander support services

Relationships Australia

Relationships Australia website

Phone: 1300 364 277

Who: Relationships Australia was started in Melbourne in 1948, focusing on marriage guidance. Today, Relationships Australia can be found across the country with 12 centres in metro and regional Victoria, helping people with a variety of relationship counselling services.

What: Relationships Australia offers a number of services dealing with relationship issues including relationship counselling and skills courses, family dispute resolution, family and domestic violence prevention support, phone based counselling, men and family relationships help, multicultural programs, post separation parenting support, and specialised programs helping people deal with the ramifications of forced adoption and adults who were sexually abused in organisational settings.

Safe Steps Family Violence Response Centre

Safe Steps Family Violence Response Centre website

Phone: 1800 015 188

Who: Safe Steps is a Victorian based service that seeks to keep women and children free from violence. It is aimed at women and those close to them. They campaign for policy change and legal reform while keeping domestic and family violence on the political and social radar.

What: Safe Steps run the free Family Violence 24/7 Response telephone line which provides support around risk assessments, referrals to crisis accommodation, safety planning, information about your options, rights and entitlements, advocacy, referral to services in your area and outreach services that can meet you away from your home. You can call Safe Steps at any time in your journey, whether you just need information, you’ve started thinking about a plan to leave or when you’re ready to go. They also provide telephone support and information for non-offending family members and friends.

Financial Counselling Australia

Financial Counselling Australia website

Who: Financial Counselling Australia [FCA] is the peak body for financial counsellors across Australia. Founded in 1982, they support financial counsellors and advocate on behalf on their clients for a fairer marketplace, especially those on low incomes or who are vulnerable. FCA is a member of the Consumers’ Federation of Australia.

What: Financial counsellors provide a free, independent and confidential service. You can use the FCA website to locate one in your area. For telephone counselling with a counsellor close to you,
call 1800 007 007. A financial counsellor can help you with the following issues:

  • Insurance company claims and policies
  • Banks and lenders
  • Grant applications and eligibility
  • Help with complaints to the ombudsman
  • Referrals to specialist community and social services
  • Information about consumer rights and codes of practice
  • Referral to community legal aid
  • Debt advice and options
  • Budget assistance and financial management
  • Information on schemes, funds and material aid you may be eligible for

WIRE (Women's Information and Referral Exchange)

WIRE (Women's Information and Referral Exchange) website

Who: WIRE is a Victorian based support service that helps women with any number of issues they might have. Started in 1984, WIRE’s 90 staff and volunteers assist women with over 12,000 requests per year. It is free, confidential and statewide so you can call or visit their drop in centre to ask them about anything.

What: WIRE provides women with information, support and referrals. They have a drop in centre based just out of Melbourne’s CBD with resources and computer facilities. They also run skills classes and programs for women. You can call their Women’s Support Line on 1300 134 130, chat with them online or send them an email with your questions.

Federal Department of Human Services

Federal Department of Human Services website

Who: The Federal Department of Human Services [DHS] was created in 2004 and is responsible for developing the policies that shape their services. They are also in charge of social, health and welfare payments.

What: Contact DHS if you need up to date and accurate information about services that you use or have applied to use. You can access all of your details via their online self-service system called MyGov. You can also find eligibility criteria, forms and payment information for the following services and categories:

  • Centrelink
  • Medicare
  • Child support – education and childcare, immunisation and information for carers
  • Domestic and family violence – details about DHS social workers
  • Families – information around babies and adoption, childcare, immunisation, carers and domestic and family violence
  • Disability
  • Job seekers, students and trainees
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people
  • Older Australians
  • Migrants and refugees