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.
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.
After being part of a group of women who unsuccessfully tried to establish a rental housing co-operative she was fortunate enough to enter the world of home ownership by partnering up plus marrying a bank. Kerry knows that her long term relationships with both the bank and her partner have given her the security to plot and plan all sort of endeavours.
Kerry’s qualifications include significant lived experience and a Master of Education from UTS. She is also a Graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors. She is particularly interested in innovative housing models which offer shared equity and the long term security of a place to call home. She currently works as a community resilience practitioner through KemJ and with the Burbangana Group, an Aboriginal owned for purpose consulting company.
Kerry is deeply grateful that she lives on Gumbaynggirr country and hopes with all her heart that we can collectively preserve and protect our natural environment as the climate change emergency continues to unfold. She believes that the future rests on real positive change being driven by local communities – but also knows that good government policy and investment certainly will help.
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’s interest in housing has followed her throughout the years. Professionally, it has been clear that having stable housing provides the foundation for other needs to be addressed. Personally, she grew up in a multicultural neighbourhood and saw the benefits of stable housing, community engagement and passionate community workers as well as the stigma that can be attached to locations, groups and types of houses. Later, living on an intentional community was an opportunity to learn more about another housing model with strong community and environmental emphasis but eventually she prioritised hot water and clearer boundaries (although there are many great things about MOs). After a few years of the ‘Bellingen rental shuffle’ she was lucky enough to grab hold of an entry rung into the property ladder before it disappeared out of reach like being experienced by so many currently.
Emma’s passion is to see systemic change to the housing system and a much greater variety of housing options so that everyone can have access to a safe, secure, affordable home and a place to belong.
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.
15 years Residential Property Manager – both long term and holiday letting. (Honolulu and Sydney. ) Designer and owner/builder of two homes.
Facilities Manager for the Bellingen Children’s Centre
Volunteer in Bellingen for Jazz Festivals, River Festivals, Transition Bellingen, Bellingen Shire Electricity Alliance, and Housing Matters Action Group.
Singing the blues, making and fixing things, being on a team, playing in my garden (the science project), puzzles.
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 is currently teaching geography at a local secondary school, whilst completing an honours 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,
rental co-ops and intentional communities, serving as secretary for BRANCH Co-op and a member tenant of Planet X Co-op. She currently lives with her husband and their children on an intentional community in the bush.
Paul has worked in community services for 4 decades firstly as a youthworker in Townsville in 1979. He has worked in a number of roles including community arts, research and policy, regional development, aged and community care, and community development.
He has board/governance experience in community services, health, the music industry,
regional development and festivals. He has worked as a consultant with federal, state and local governments. Paul has a passion for social justice and in particular the need for affordable and accessible housing. Paul is an active board member of local, state and international community development organisations
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
qualifications in Urban and Regional Planning and in Local Government Management. She is Vice Chair of East Coast Accessibility Experts, a member of the Bellingen Memorial Hall Committee, as well as an active member of the local Affordable Housing working group. Stephanie is also an Associate of Burbangana Group, an Aboriginal owned consulting Company committed to working together for community wellbeing.
Stephanie managed regional community housing programs within Family and Community Services in NSW from 2007 – 2015 and developed skills in project and program management experience in the community housing environment.
She also loves playing the ukulele, kayaking and bushwalking, camping and gardening, and time with family.
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.