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Northern Rivers Housing Crisis

Thursday, August 11, 2022, 12:30 PM until 1:30 PM
Meeting ID:
833 8853 0414
Additional Info:
Event Contact(s):
Sally Daly
TASA Thursdays
Registration is required
Payment In Full In Advance Only
No Fee

Northern Rivers event 1
Northern Rivers event 2
Northern Rivers event 3
Images by Pam Priest
Discussant: Josephine Brown

Jemima Mowbray (Policy and Advocacy Manager, Tenants' Union of NSW) 
Brendan Ross (Coordinator, Northern Rivers Tenants Advice & Advocacy Service)
Simone Hickey (financial counsellor)
John Lee OAM (You Have a Friend)
Jean S. Renouf (Resilient Byron)

The flood crisis in the Northern Rivers focused national media attention on Lismore in March 2022. This attention raised the issues of emergency needs for housing, food, medical care and assistance for animals and pets. The floods, however, extended well beyond Lismore, affecting the whole of the Northern Rivers region of NSW. Already, this region faced many challenges, not least due to the increased costs of housing due to tree- and sea-changers leaving major cities during the Covid pandemic. The region saw price rises in rentals of around 40%, pricing many locals out of the housing market, and forcing them to live in tents, cars and caravan parks.

This panel will discuss the aftermath of the floods, not just for Lismore, but across the whole of the Northern Rivers region, where an already vulnerable group of communities continue to suffer the effects of the floods, particularly in relation to an exacerbation of the housing crisis.

While you are waiting for our event, you can catch up on Stories of Resilience from the Northern Rivers, Australia

Jemima Mowbray joined the Tenants' Union in 2014. Working initially in the Residential Parks team, she moved to TU policy in 2016 and now leads the TU's policy and advocacy work. She has extensive research experience in the university sector working on projects around politics of multiculturalism, community and identity. Jemima has a BA and PhD from Sydney University. She's passionate about housing justice, is a long term renter and imagines she'll be renting for life.

Brendan Ross is a long-term Northern Rivers resident in which the area was devastated by the flooding event in Feb/March 2022. Brendan has been in the Northern Rivers Tenants Advice Service since 2017 and been Coordinator since September last year. Brendan graduated with a Law Degree from Southern Cross University in 2014. Brendan is passionate about a community-led service, particularly in response to the recent natural disasters.

Simone Hickey is a senior financial counsellor for Lismore District Financial Counselling Service. She has a Master of Commerce, and her passion is affordable housing. Simone has been involved in financial counselling and financial literacy for over 20 years and has been a Northern Rivers resident for 25 years. During the recent floods, she and her team were working in the Lismore evacuation centre from a caravan.

John Lee OAM (B.SocSc) PHF

I have been working with the homeless and marginalized communities for 20 years. My journey began in earnest in 2008 when we registered our charity ‘You Have A Friend Inc’. We recruited a wonderful team of dedicated volunteers, opened an Op Shop, and commenced various outreaches supporting areas from Coolangatta to Murwillumbah and Uki.

We also provide school breakfasts, support Fred’s Place, and provide emergency material relief to regional communities affected by drought and floods.
I work with schools to promote ‘social justice’ awareness. Year 11 & 12 students attend street outreaches while younger students are involved in a variety of activities.

My passion for social justice is the driving force for my advocacy to protect the vulnerable from both legal and social challenges that invoke human rights, and the lobbying and subsequent ‘battles’ with both State and Local governments continues all too frequently.

Bachelor of Social Science majoring in Community Studies Social Welfare.

Awards for Services to the Community:
Paul Harris Fellow Rotary International (2010)
Tweed Volunteer of the Year (2011)
‘Pride of Australia’ medal (2012)
Order of Australia Medal (OAM) (2021)

Dr Jean Renouf is the chair of Resilient Byron. He is also an academic at Southern Cross University, a retained firefighter with Fire and Rescue NSW, and a dad. Prior to this, Jean spent years implementing emergency relief projects in disaster zones and countries at war, including Afghanistan, Congo, Haiti, Iraq, North Korea, etc. All of this informs his passion for climate change, community regeneration and resilience, and led him to found Resilient Byron.

Resilient Byron is an incorporated not-for-profit charity founded in 2019 which aims to build the resilience and regenerative capacities of the Northern Rivers residents of NSW. Resilient Byron’s flagship project is the Community Carers and Responders (CCR) network funded by Resilience NSW, where 100+ Northern Rivers residents are trained in community building, disaster preparedness and response, food and water security, housing and energy security. In the immediate aftermath of the 2022 flooding event, Resilient Byron contributed to the community response and recovery efforts in the Byron Shire, including providing life-saving aid to communities isolated in the hills and valleys; coordinating house cleaning and care teams in several towns; receiving, organising, and redistributing tens of thousands of donated items to many parts of the Northern Rivers; running a quiet space to help flood-affected residents find and be given the essential items that they need, including clothing, bedding, toiletries, and moments of respite and calm, and more.