By Kyra Gillespie
Cardinia Shire councillors have thrown their support behind a small-scale community housing project for Pakenham.
Given the initial tick of approval at Cardinia Shire’s October meeting, a family home would be constructed at 21 Stringy Bark Circuit, Pakenham to provide affordable living for women and children, particularly those made homeless by family violence.
The single-home project will be undertaken through a partnership with SJD Homes and The Victorian Homeless Fund (VHF).
SJD Homes, based in Officer, will be responsible for construction and sourcing donated materials, while the VHF will raise the funds to pay for labour and administration costs.
In an emotional address in the council chambers, Central Ward Councillor Jodie Owen spoke of her experience with domestic violence to highlight the importance of providing support to vulnerable victims.
“I myself escaped domestic violence, and I was lucky enough to have had family around me to support me in my recovery and to get me where I am today,” Cr Owen said.
“But there are hundreds of men and women – and I stress men and women – who experience violence and who deserve the same kind of support.
“This house will be a good quality house because studies have proven that living in a house that is of lower quality can bring on more stress, especially for a single parent who is trying to get her children to school and back into a normal life.
“Whoever moves in will be like any other family, like your or me. It just happens that they are at the point in their life where they need support.”
The land will be leased by council to the VHF for 50 years. Council will retain ownership of the land without any responsibility for grounds, building or tenant management.
The home will have 3-4 bedrooms and will be one of SJD’s range quality houses.
Company Principal Simon Dunstan was praised by councillors for taking on the charitable project.
“I would like to acknowledge SJD homes for their role in this project,” Deputy Mayor Cr Brett Owen said.
“Simon Dunstan is a very generous person and we should see more generosity of this kind in this shire.”
In 2004 the 464sqm parcel of land was transferred into council ownership as part of the open space contribution associated with the subdivision of Stringy Bark Circuit.
In August last year the land was considered in excess and not required for use as a reserve.
“When opportunities like this come up we have to jump at them and get behind them,” Cr Michael Schilling said.
Council will now give public notice of the proposal to surrounding residents.
The lease will be conditional upon a planning permit being issued by council.