General Advocacy Homelessness News

Housing Crisis Fundraiser

Kate and Sam will be fundraising for the month of January to help SJA to buy a small permanent home to assist with the housing crisis.

Kate will be spending an hour everyday in January walking the local walking tracks and picking up rubbish.

Sam will be busking in Pambula, with an assortment of special guests and with all proceeds going to SJA.

The goal is $7,000 but after only two days they have already raised $660!

Please sponsor Kate and Sam by contributing whatever you can to help us achieve this goal – every but counts!

Click on here to check out their GoFundMe and donate!

General Advocacy Homelessness News

Housing Crisis

This van was recently moved from a caravan park, as happens in our shire at this time of every year.
The man who has been living in this van was very lucky to find a friend who allowed him to move to her property.

So much more to do for dignified, secure housing in our shire.
The housing crisis is causing huge mental health issues as well as associated loss of self-esteem and loss of hope.
Caravans are only a very temporary solution and the shire needs to demand more substantial secure housing solutions.
This is now more obvious with the renewed flooding following our COVID years and fires.
Hundreds in our shire living in unsuitable temporary accommodation.
AND now the state government is spending $300m on another football stadium upgrade, while the federal government is to spend billions on helicopter upgrades!!!
Let’s prioritise our needs and plan our spending at all levels of government.

Climate Environment General Advocacy Homelessness

Responses from Bega Valley Shire Candidates

Social Justice Advocates of the Sapphire Coast- Forces for Nature group questions to BVS Candidates

Karen Wright:

1/ 2 in 3 voters believe that climate change is a top 3 issue for them at the next election.  What is your top 3?

Youth and Families, Sustainability, and A Strong Community. 
2/ What does a climate emergency mean to you? Do you support the BVSC climate emergency declaration?  What actions can you and the shire do to mitigate carbon emissions ASAP?

We have only a small window to actively work towards reducing our emissions and our negative impact on the world. I do support the BVSC emergency declaration, and will work to reduce waste, emissions, and invest in renewables 

3/   What will you do to address our Bega Valley Shires community homeless and housing crisis as identified in the state draft housing strategy report?

I will do all that I can, as an advocate for those who are experiencing homelessness. I am not just here for the ratepayers. I am here for all residents of the Shire. We must act, and support the steps in the housing strategy, and make council work collaboratively with all the community services doing similar work on this issue. As you know, I am on the committee for the sleep on it challenge, and previously worked for Wellways under the HASI contract. I have direct experience as a community sector worker on this issue, including assisting Mick in moving a caravan for a homeless person. This is the sort of person you want on Council. 

Lead GREENS Candidate – Cathy Griff                                                                                                                                          Thank you for the opportunity to respond to these crucial and weighty questions. A lot could and should be said about each, especially as they loom large nationally and indeed globally. 

1/ Two in three voters believe that climate change is a top 3 issue for them at the next election.   What is your top 3?                                                                                                                                                                                          1st  Climate change – others are irrelevant if we don’t act urgently on that;
2nd Affordable housing – a particular crisis in our Shire;                                                                                                                   3rd Sustainable development – consideration of the environment in all we create.

2/What does a climate emergency mean to you? Do you support the BVSC climate emergency declaration?  What actions can you and the shire do to mitigate carbon emissions ASAP?                                                           

I raised the Climate Emergency declaration in Council August 2019 (passed by 5 to 4 votes). Bega Valley Shire was among the first to join the Climate Council’s coalition of councils pledging climate change action. There is a huge movement in Australia and abroad recognising the climate emergency as an existential crisis. It means all levels of government, business, and individuals need to do everything possible to reduce carbon emissions – this decade. The Greens and I consider this to be our main mission.

Council’s Climate Resilience Strategy and Clean Energy Plan contain multiple goals to reduce emissions locally. Councillors direct policy (similarly to a board of governors) so they need to prioritise relevant targets. Our Shire can do a great deal by leading the way in reducing emissions through use and promotion of renewable energy.   

3/ What will you do to address our Bega Valley Shires community homeless and housing crisis as identified in the state draft housing strategy report?

I will escalate the work I started in council in late 2017, seeking suitable land for affordable housing and pursuing more local government action via advocacy, partnerships, zoning and planning. Without Council support I chaired a housing community group which brought together tireless players including Social Justice Advocates and South East Women and Children Service. Finally the Council’s Affordable Housing Strategy is out for public comment, with many excellent ideas. Again it needs councillors to progress strategies. 

Homelessness is at the severe end of the affordable housing spectrum. Assisting other levels of housing stress will help the overall problem. Bega Valley Shire lacks transitional housing options. The nearest youth refuge is Moruya. Mid 2018, I raised a motion to seek a suitable building for such a refuge but none has been identified. I have sought action at the Local Government Association conferences – substantial Federal and State funding is needed to reverse cuts and address homelessness. Multiple strategies are needed and solid commitment from Council for further examination of existing properties. The Greens consider housing a basic human right. To alleviate homelessness the government needs to raise the level of welfare payments above the poverty line!

Vivian Harris

1/   2 in 3 voters believe that climate change is a top 3 issue for them at the next election.  

What are your top 3?

  1. Climate Emergency
  2. Housing Affordability
  3. Food security

2/ What does a climate emergency mean to you? Do you support the BVSC climate emergency declaration?  What actions can you and the shire do to mitigate carbon emissions ASAP?

I support the BVSC climate emergency declaration. As a member of Bega Valley Climate Action Mobilisation CAM I was part of the campaign for it and our lead candidate Cathy Griff put forward the motion for it. I was on the technical panel for the Bega Valley Climate Resilience Strategy. As an individual I already have net zero carbon emissions but many people need help to achieve this. 

In the Bega Valley our biggest emissions come from electricity, transport and agriculture. We can work on these by: helping to organise bulk buys of solar for residential, commercial and industry; regulating to make solar mandatory on new builds; transitioning to electric vehicles and installing or regulating installation of electric vehicle chargers; and encouraging and promoting regenerative farming.

We can increase resilience by strengthening infrastructure such as water treatment plants, sewerage systems, communications and bridges. We can turn public buildings such as community halls, libraries and other public buildings into safe places for refuge during heatwaves and disasters.

We can educate the community about climate change, emergency preparation and increase community resilience through capacity building. 

3/   What will you do to address our Bega Valley Shires community homeless and housing crisis as identified in the state draft housing strategy report.

Advocate for more low income housing from Federal Government Increase restrictions on short term rentals to lower the number Consider increasing rates on second houses that are vacant more than six months of the year. Encourage more building of quality medium density housing Work to increase ease of community multiple occupancy developments, tiny house developments , granny flats and conversions of large houses into multiple occupancy. Mandate % of AH in private housing developments. Audit Council owned land to look for possibilities of partnerships to build AH.

Michael Britten:

1/ 2 in 3 voters believe that climate change is a top 3 issue for them at the next election.  What is your top 3?

With reference to SJA Forces for natures 3 questions relating to climate change and affordable housing I would respond as follows :-

Questions 1&2 are very much inter related and I attach an official release from the NSW Regulator- IPART issued this week which gives a clear position of what all Regulatory bodies , including Councils should adhere to and in particular I support the 7 criteria outlined in that Statement as the way in which we approach climate change and action.

I support the Council climate emergency declaration and have long been an advocate for action before, rather than after a climate emergency. The Federal disaster fund is spent 90% AFTER the disaster event whereas a commitment is needed to fund prevention in the hope of avoiding an emergency (and thereby reducing emissions).

Our legislation promotes conflict in achieving prevention in that Biodiversity, bushfire containment and the ability to preserve life and assets ,are at odds in managing prevention and containment, and need review.

As regards your question on our housing crisis I have read the recent draft policy before Council and support the information contained in it, however the difficulty is in the way you implement any policy and how all levels of Government and the development industry work together to implement the provision of low cost housing. The current regulatory process does not facilitate an easy answer and needs reform. The location of low cost housing and its inter relationship with other existing and future housing in the Shire needs careful consideration.

Nathan O’donnell

1/ 2 in 3 voters believe that climate change is a top 3 issue for them at the next election.  What is your top 3?

Thanks for the opportunity. There are a great many issues facing our beautiful shire. If I had to nominate the top three issues from my point of view they would be as follows.

1) It is of prime importance that the council finances are brought under control. The issue of financial management is vital as a strong budget position allows council to pay for the services and infrastructure we all expect and deserve as a community. It is so important for the communities money to be treated with respect.. I am confident that my more than twenty years in small business will equip me well to play a constructive role in working to ensure that the job of budget repair is successfully undertaken by the next council.

2) Once we begin the process of budget repair my next priority will be to work to ensure that service delivery and the provision of local infrastructure are put on the top of the agenda. Service delivery should be the focus of any local council, doing it’s job. Ensuring that our rubbish service is up to scratch as well as making sure roads and other infrastructure are maintained will be very important to me should I be fortunate to be elected on December 4th.

3) Thirdly small businesses in our shire are so vital. In the absence of heavy industry in the shire we rely on our small businesses to help sustain our economy shire wide. It is also important to remember that our farmers are small businesses as well. It would be my very firm desire to see red tape slashed and the whole process around small businesses interactions with council simplified, sped up and made more user friendly. This would save a great deal of time and money for our small business community, freeing them up to put more investment into our community. 

2/ What does a climate emergency mean to you? Do you support the BVSC climate emergency declaration?  What actions can you and the shire do to mitigate carbon emissions ASAP?

The bushfire crisis shook our beautiful shire at it’s foundations, leaving not just a physical toll but a mental and emotional toll as well. We must ensure as best we can that our community never again faces this sort of unmitigated disaster. In my view much more needs to be done on the score of prevention rather than all the time being left to react after a tragic event has occurred. Anyone who was here to see the destruction first hand will never forget it I feel sure.

In respect of the climate emergency declaration I cannot see it being reconsidered and in that context it is something that the new council will need to work with. I support the council meeting all of it’s legislative commitments as set out in relation to the environment, including in relation to emissions targets should they be legislated. What I don’t want to see is for our shire to take any additional action over and above what I have described. I don’t want to see our shire going it alone in any sense when it comes to environmental policy. 

While I will be a strong supporter of continued environmental support measures at the local level we must be careful not to commit to anything that risks the future of our local economy. 

I am of the firm view that our environment and our business and tourism sectors can co-exist together rather than one needing to be favored over the other. I would be keen to focus on local action projects on our beaches and in our parks rather than focusing on emissions targets. The history of this debate shows that emissions targets cause nothing but division in the community and they take our focus asway from more grass roots actions that if undertaken could actually deliver a real benefit to our shire and it’s environment

3/   What will you do to address our Bega Valley Shires community homeless and housing crisis as identified in the state draft housing strategy report?

The housing crises is ongoing and the new council will need to work hard to begin to address it. I support the vision and objectives as outlined in the state draft housing strategy. There are obviously issues around density, land availability and the like that will always be significant factors to be taken account of. The new council must stand at the ready to work with all forms of government, using all leavers available in an attempt to make an impact on this difficult issue. As a general principle I feel very strongly about the fact that council must work as hard as it can to ensure that all members of our community are afforded the opportunity to enjoy the benefits of living in our beautiful Bega Valley Shire.


1/ 2 in 3 voters believe that climate change is a top 3 issue for them at the next election. What is your top 3?  

(1) Preparing our region for the increasing impact of a rapidly changing climate (2) Creating new jobs in the clean energy, renewable and IT (including ag tech) sectors and encouraging growth in ecotourism, sustainable and regenerative food production and in the creative arts sector (3) Urgently addressing homelessness and the shortage of affordable housing. 

2/ What does a climate emergency mean to you? Do you support the BVSC climate emergency declaration? What actions can you and the shire do to mitigate carbon emissions ASAP?

The Bega Valley and neighbouring LGAs have seen, very dramatically, the impact of the growing climate emergency through fires, floods, storm surges and the pandemic. It is concerning to the ALP team that some councillors did not support the BVSC climate emergency declaration. Our shire is still dealing with the impact of both the Tathra and Black Summer fires (compounded by flooding and the COVID Pandemic) that brought such devastation to our residents, landscape, agriculture, habitat and wildlife. Local Governments have the most regular and practical connection with community and must use that connection to listen to what communities want and need, then advocate strongly with State and Federal Governments for on-going funding for a range of measures to prepare for future climate challenges. Councils have an important focus on service delivery. They do not have the resources, financial and human, to tackle all of the big problems that climate change is bringing but they can be a stronger voice for community. By and large, communities are well able to identify their own solutions but require support and resources to do this. The ALP team would like to establish an ongoing conversation with The Social Justice Advocates of the Sapphire Coast (SJASC), Forces for Nature Environment sub group (FFN) and Youth Climate Action Group about the issues of concern. If we’ve learned anything from the aftermath of the fires, it is that “top down” solutions imposed on a community are not what is needed to solve complex issues. Imposing the onerous and confusing bureaucratic processes of State and Federal Government agencies without providing councils and communities with sufficient resources to tackle them is also a sure route to poorer outcomes. Labor believes that regional and remote areas must be at the centre of energy and climate policies so that they can benefit from the opportunities. There must be a rapid transition away from fossil fuels to renewable energy sources. This is essential at a global but also at a micro level. Council should elevate its support for the development of renewable power generation, including local micro grids connected across the Bega Valley, to prevent a repeat of the cascading failures when the grid collapsed during the fires as well as to meet its net zero by 2030 target. Helping people at a practical level to make their homes more energy efficient as well as preparing them for disasters such as extreme hot weather is also essential. We support the building of fit-for-purpose safe spaces and cool refuges located in communities across the valley. Centralised evacuation centres in Bega or Bermagui are not enough when a single accident or a fire could block all access from the northern end of the shire. Communications system that do not collapse and a stand-alone water supply for RFS and community use should also be investigated. Clearly all of this requires significant investment but a competent BVSC would build strong alliances with other neighbouring councils to provide a united voice for action to address climate change mitigation and for serious investment in adaptation, preparedness and resilience in rural and regional communities, not only resilience in rural and regional communities, not only from State and Federal Governments but from the private sector. The banking, insurance and superannuation industries, as well as the energy, mining and fossil fuel industries, must step up and help rural and regional Australia prepare for a changing climate

3/ What will you do to address our Bega Valley Shires community homeless and housing crisis as identified in the state draft housing strategy report?

This is a not a question that can be answered in a few glib sentences. As the recently released BVSC draft Affordable Housing Strategy makes clear, it is a complex matrix involving Council, State and Federal Governments, as well as private home owners, developers, public housing (of which we need a lot more) and the many problems facing homeless people as well as those with special needs. From an initial reading of the draft strategy, it is clear that the issues of homelessness and special needs housing needs to be urgently addressed. It is scandalous that people on low incomes cannot find anything to rent for less than $180 a week in the entire LGA. A final consideration of the draft Strategy is not due for consideration until the third quarter of next year. For the many families and individuals finding it impossible to put a roof over their heads, that’s just not soon enough. Strategies are all well and good but what’s needed is urgent action, particularly on social and special needs housing. If elected the Labor team will advocate in Council for an urgent round table conference with State and Federal Government representatives to find immediate and practical solutions to a crisis that is not just causing to distress to families and individuals to also to our local economy which cannot attract the skilled people it needs because there is nowhere affordable to live. The Labor team will also work with community groups like SJASC and others to deepen our understanding of the impacts and potential solutions We would also use our connections with the State and Federal Opposition to elevate this into an issue of utmost importance.

David Porter

As an elected councillor, our duty is to serve our local shire and the communities within it and I share all the concerns of my community, especially ones that have an impact on our life. So I would like to be able to do much more than just frameworks mandated by govt organisations such as ipart.

I believe the role of a Councillor in many areas including climate action is one of leadership and advocacy above everything else.

Our shire has already performed extremely well in this area and I intend to build on that, I am already on a focus group for Essential Energy helping to design what community use of renewable energy will look like into the future and as a person who has years of experience delivering technology projects, I am very excited about the future both in the home and in council infrastructure.

So for me there is a very exciting and sustainable future ahead and I would like to be able to promote Bega Valley Shire as leaders and innovators, I would love to be in a position that we are showing other councils how to do it.

I am extremely interested in working on the Housing Crisis. In 2016, myself and two other concerned citizens met with the Mayor, Deputy Mayor, General Manager and two staff from planning, we expressed our concern that mapping of restrictions under the 2013 LEP had smothered the construction of homes on existing residential lots, council did not listen, now we have the housing crisis that we warned them about. By simply rolling back the over zealous mapping on residential lots and providing incentives to build we could improve inventory without having to create any developments. This would be an ideal place to start. I have also been looking at small lot residential and community title as a way to create low cost homes, but this would have to be planned carefully. 


November 2021 Bulletin


It’s Up To Us – Campaign



Last month the Social Justice Advocates of the Sapphire Coast (SJASC) launched ‘It’s Up To Us’ campaign.  

The aim?  To fund a much needed two-bedroom transitional unit for those in desperate need of shelter. 

The goal? $100,000, by the end of the year. 

Every week SJA volunteers are called upon to find emergency accommodation for individuals or families otherwise living in cars or on the street. In the absence of any adequate government provision, they called upon the community to help them tackle the shire’s homelessness crisis. 

The community not only listened, it has reacted with extraordinary speed and generosity. In little over a month, local businesses and residents have contributed $54,791.22, more than half the target.

Mick Brosnan, co-chair of the SJA could not be more delighted.  “It’s so rewarding to find that our community understands how dire the situation is and that it is up to us to act when government won’t.”  

Workers at the front line of the crisis could not be happier, not only that the problem that has been overwhelming them is being properly aired, but that the community is so prepared to help.  They are confronted every day by the distress caused by homelessness. The message they would like to deliver is that homelessness is everyone’s problem.  It can happen to anyone.

In an unprecedented move, they have combined to throw their weight behind Its’ Up To Us by organising a Sleep On It, a challenge to rough it for the night at the Bega Showgrounds on October 22. All proceeds will go to the campaign.  They hope to raise $25,000.

Why not join them? Food stalls, live music, and the 20 tokens to buy the essentials will help you through the night. To register go to   

If you aren’t up to the challenge yourself, then please sponsor someone who is, or you can also donate directly to ‘Its Up to Us’ BSB 633000; 151382090

Halfway there means halfway more to go.  We can’t do this on our own!!