Our Story

Housing Matters Action Group is founded in the belief that grassroots community approaches can create positive change and that everyone deserves a safe, secure and affordable home.

Originally formed in 2017 when representatives from the Bellingen Neighbourhood Centre, Lifetime Connect, local councillors and interested community members came together to discuss homelessness and the local housing crisis. The group recognised the many drivers in the housing system contributing to the local housing crisis and while some levers remain the responsibility of government, waiting for an external solution was not going to bring about the action needed in the community to remain a diverse and inclusive place to live. The group decided to form a citizens action group and host a forum focused on local solutions. Over 160 people attended the initial forum and a detailed work plan was developed with 46 people committing to ongoing actions.

Since then HMAG has conducted a localised needs mapping, developed a 10 point advocacy platform, supported the Bellingen Shire Council Local Housing Strategy community consultations, co-hosted state and federal ‘meet the candidates’ events, commissioned 3 short films and continue to work towards numerous medium to longer term solutions to local housing issues, including the inclusion of affordable housing in retirement village developments, a Housing Fund, Land Bank, and a Community Property Trust to provide perpetually affordable housing.

HMAG incorporated in January 2020. Our work continues to evolve and respond to the local housing crisis while maintaining our grassroots community development approach.

Management Committee


Kerry Pearse


Kerry Pearse has been a housing advocate and community builder for most of her life. She cut her teeth as a squatter in the Lyndhurst Estate in Glebe, Sydney and went on to work at the Mid North Coast Tenants Advice and Housing Referral Service which was based at Coffs Harbour during the 1980s. This jump started her public service career, initially in community housing policy with the Australian Government. Her adult housing story includes living in a squat and numerous approved and unapproved rental properties and share houses.


Emma has worked in community mental health, community housing, with the veteran community and various freelance settings including grant writing and events. With experience working across a range of fields, the common theme has consistently been about working with communities to assist them to determine their own solutions. Emma firmly believes that people are the experts in their own lives and communities and they are much more likely to know what is needed, what will work and who should be involved than external decision makers.


Emma Belcher



Vicki Parkes

Treasurer & Public Officer

Bachelors in Education/ General Science Major University of Hawaii Accounting Studies.

Office Administration, Business and/or Finance manager for a variety of businesses.

Volunteer finance team manager for Honolulu Office of International Educational Foundation achieving and maintaining highest scores of 26 centres in the USA for timeliness and accuracy of our work.


Rose grew-up in a radical housing co-op in inner-city Brisbane during the 1980’s, which shaped her belief that housing is a right not a privilege. She went on to complete a Bachelor of Human Geography/Education and engage in community development work in Sydney and Melbourne. Rose recently completed a thesis on community-led housing activism in regional Australia. Since 2016 Rose has been a board member for the peak body for housing co-ops in NSW, Common Equity NSW. She has lived-in and explored a range of alternative housing models, including squatting,


Rose West



Stephanie Ring


Stephanie has recently retired after more than 20 years working in State Government and for the non-government sector in management and development positions. Stephanie is committed to social justice, ethical practice, and improving housing and life outcomes for disadvantaged people.

Stephanie holds both graduate and post graduate


John Beswick


Three years with Bank of New South Wales
10 years dairy farming.
Four years Honours degree Newcastle University along with operating Blacksmiths Hardware Store.
34 years retail in UK plus Scientific and Industry participation.
Three years back in Oz picking up old threads and looking to be useful.

We are primarily volunteers!
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Housing Matters Action Group Incorporated
ABN: 849 860 347 54

Jagun yaam Gumbaynggirrgundi. We acknowledge the Gumbaynggirr people as the traditional custodians of the land on which we live and work, and pay our respects to all Elders and First Peoples past, present and emerging.