Anti-racism training: Tenants Victoria supports South Sudanese renters

Project to boost community knowledge of renter rights

If you had four kids how you would feel if a landlord suggested that you had a bigger family you weren’t disclosing – and they would do spot checks at your rented home to find out how many children were living with you?

This is a real-life experience shared with us by a self-employed South Sudanese Australian single mother living in Melbourne’s west – and is among several disturbing stories we have heard of ‘rental racism’, when people make assumptions and discriminate against a renter on the basis of their ethnicity. It is also illegal.

As part of our broad outreach to renters, Tenants Victoria will join with local South Sudanese community organisations in Melbourne’s western suburbs to run My Rental Rights, an empowerment project focusing on South Sudanese Victorians in private rentals.

The project has been funded by a grant from the Victorian Government to boost cross-cultural understanding across Victoria and was announced by the State’s Minister for Multicultural Affairs Ros Spence on 16 June.

Project concept came from the community

‘The idea for our project came from the grassroots – talking to South Sudanese Victorians, both community and organisations based in the western suburbs, who raised concern about what they felt was a pattern of discrimination when community members sought rental housing,’ said Farah Farouque, Tenants Victoria’s Director of Community Engagement.

‘We aim to support individuals and local organisations to gain knowledge of rental rights and responsibilities. This will involve working closely with representative from local South Sudanese organisations to design training workshops and create practical online materials that work for them. Our approach will be strength-based and empowering.’

Tenants Victoria, which will commence the work from July, will also help the affected renters make referrals to Victoria’s Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission and Commissioner for Residential Tenancies, where appropriate.

While this is a trial project, Tenants Victoria wants to extend this new community-education program down the track to other diverse communities that have a need for this kind of support. ‘It’s an important building block in our anti-racism work for renters,’ said Farah Farouque.

Hear Farah Farouque, our Director of Community Engagement, speak about our new project on SBS Radio.

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