Jesuit Social Services welcomes the opportunity to respond to the consultation regarding the proposed Residential Tenancies Regulations 2020, the implementation of which offer a positive framework to protect the rights of vulnerable and disadvantaged renters across Victoria.

Our submission focuses on ecological justice – that is, the interconnection between environmental and social justice, and how this can be achieved via these reforms.

In particular, we make the following key points and recommendations:

  • The Government must prioritise increased investment in new public and community housing stock, as well as access to supported housing.
  • Pre-emptive policies of equitable access to affordable energy are increasingly considered essential to protect against the effects of climate risk. In this context, current programs targeted to assist marginalised groups – such as the Residential Efficiency Scorecard and suite of Home Energy Assist programs (i.e. Energy Savvy Upgrades Program, Victorian Healthy Homes, and Energy Smart Public Housing program) – offer a strong foundation upon which to drive systemic reform.
  • The prescribed rental minimum standards must be strengthened.
  • It is critical that affordable housing is good quality and ecologically appropriate, whereby dwellings – both private and social – not only adhere to reasonable minimum standards of quality but also incorporate principles of ecological justice.

We also note that local practical solutions may in some areas outpace regulatory, policy and legislative settings and reform processes. In a policy and market environment subject to marked disruption and volatility, it is critical that emerging innovative and community-led projects are supported and funded alongside the development of longer-term structural changes.