Tenant artistry on show

Housing Choices Western Australia’s annual Tenant Art Showcase has become a highly anticipated and well-attended event, celebrating the diverse creative talents of our tenant communities.

Last week, 70 artistic works created by more than 25 tenant artists were exhibited to an appreciative audience of Housing Choices WA residents, Housing Choices Australia Group board directors and staff.

Having experienced the isolating impact of COVID-19, the event was a welcome opportunity for tenants and staff to reconnect in a safe environment.

“Seeing artists, staff and board members chatting and laughing together and sharing their favourite pieces was such a joy,” Housing Choices WA General Manager – Community Housing Natalie Sangalli said.

“It’s such a fantastic opportunity to make tenants the stars of the show and I can see this event getting bigger and better in the coming years.”

The inaugural art show in 2018 displayed 25 works at Housing Choices WA’s Rivervale office. This year, the event was held in historic Hamilton Hill Memorial Hall, reflecting increased artistic output and engagement. The display included a variety of disciplines including painting, poetry, photography, woodwork, embroidery and craft.

A People’s Choice Award uncovered some crowd favorites, with top honours going to photographer Phillip Day for his stunning beach landscape photo and self-taught photographer and wildlife carer Jesse Steele for her sensitive portrayal of native birds. Phillip and Jesse each received a $200 gift voucher.

A photo booth set up especially for the occasion captured artists with their work, making it a true celebration of their efforts and leaving them with a memento to mark the auspicious occasion. Many tenants spoke of the positive effects art has on their mental health and general wellbeing.

Housing Choices WA’s 2021 Tenant Art Showcase was the first major event for the company following its rebrand from Access Housing in July 2020 when it joined the Housing Choices Australia Group. To mark the occasion, Housing Choices Australia board directors based in Adelaide, Hobart and Melbourne flew in to join Perth-based directors to meet and mingle with WA tenants and celebrate their artistic endeavours.

Housing Choices WA Tenant Engagement and Capacity Building Officer Alex Kepes said the annual Tenant Art Showcases had uncovered a wealth of talent and sparked positive change in the lives of many tenants since the inaugural event in 2018.

“After realising we had several artists in one complex alone, the exhibit just grew as we came across more and more tenants with creative talent,” Alex said.

“It’s been an absolute joy to witness the growth in confidence and skills of our tenant artists.

“The showcase is a wonderful opportunity for tenants to meet and share their work and inspirational stories with others.

“Art for many of our tenants has become a passion, which has helped them mentally and brought so much positivity to their lives and to their friends and families. We are humbled by their generosity in sharing their work.”

Financial wellbeing groups relaunch

Housing Choices WA recommenced our award winning ‘Managing on a Low Income’ financial wellbeing groups for tenants earlier this month in Bunbury.

These place-based wellbeing groups aim to assist tenants to improve their financial knowledge, awareness of local financial services and confidence to access these services. Housing Choices WA staff and a local financial counsellor facilitate each group, but the sessions are ultimately led by tenants who determine what areas of money management they would like to discuss. Tenants are invited to drive conversation and share their cost saving knowledge and ideas as the experts in the room.

In addition to providing a forum for tenants to share and learn from each other, ‘Managing on a Low Income’ financial wellbeing groups also aim to build the capacity of local financial counsellors to reach individuals who would not usually access their services.

Joining tenants at our first ‘Managing on a Low Income’ financial wellbeing group for 2021 were staff from our Tenant Engagement and Capacity Building team, our South West Tenancy Services team and a local financial counsellor from Anglicare, Kea. The group kicked off with Kea explaining the role of a financial counsellor – including that her services are free of charge to the community. Interestingly, only one tenant was aware of this prior to our wellbeing group.

Kea’s introduction was followed by tenants sharing their tips and knowledge. One of our local South West residents drove the discussion, sharing his tips around emergency relief, best value groceries, no interest loans and local low-cost services. Kea also advised the group that financial counsellors like her can refer tenants to many of these services.

Every tenant who participated in our Bunbury session said they learnt new money management tips and were more aware of local services that could help them. Housing Choices WA staff and Kea said they all learnt something from the tenants in the room, which they could pass on other tenants and individuals in the community.

Another positive outcome from the group was that all tenant attendees said they felt more confident contacting a financial counsellor. One tenant made an appointment with Kea on the spot!

A big thank you to Kea, our South West team and our tenants for a wonderful group!

Calling all artists and creatives!

Housing Choices WA will be hosting a Tenant Art Showcase in Hamilton Hill on Tuesday 11 May to highlight the talents of our creative tenants.

We are now seeking Expressions of Interest from tenants who would like to display their creative artworks at our Tenant Art Showcase.

All forms of creative expression are welcome including poetry, painting, sculptures, ceramics, short stories, drawings, knitting, photography and more!

Who can apply?
All Housing Choices WA tenants and carers can apply!

How to apply
Artists will need to provide a description of art pieces provided and a short biography.

Please contact our Tenant Engagement and Capacity Building Officer Alex Kepes on 0437 887 675 to apply and find out more!

Opportunities Fund supports Dean’s artistic endeavors

Dean has been a Housing Choices WA tenant for more than five years and has participated in many of our tenant programs. A favourite Housing Choices WA initiative of Dean’s is the Tenant Art Display, to which he has contributed numerous creative pieces.

Dean’s art has been on display at Housing Choices WA’s office in Rivervale over the past year. Dean’s cheerful and colourful creative style has proved popular with staff, tenants and office visitors alike, prompting the sale of several of his pieces that were on display. Dean also featured as the Artist of the Edition in our Autumn 2020 Tenant Newsletter.

Dean was recently granted funds from Housing Choices WA through our Opportunities Fund. The Housing Choices WA Opportunities Fund provides funding for tenants that can be put towards activities, materials, fees and memberships that support mental health, wellbeing, education, training and social inclusion.

Dean received $500 worth of art supplies vouchers from Housing Choices WA and started painting right away.

“Thank you so much for supporting me,” Dean said.

“I started painting with my new supplies after I got home and it is like driving a Ferrari of paints.”

Dean said he has ambitions to have his own art exhibition to give back to the community.

“I want to have my own exhibition to raise money for mental health in the community and to continue to give joy to others that art has given to me,” Dean said.

For more information about the Housing Choices WA Opportunities Fund, please contact our Tenant Engagement and Capacity Building Officer Alex Kepes on 0437 887 675.

COVID-19 RENTAL EMERGENCY MEASURES END THIS SUNDAY

In April 2020, the WA Government passed the Residential Tenancies (COVID-19 Response) Act 2020, which brought into law a range of measures to deliver protections for tenants suffering rental stress as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic in WA.

The COVID-19 Response Act meant that between 30/3/20 – 28/3/21;

* No rent increases could be actioned.
* No terminations of tenancies could take place except in particular circumstances i.e. family and domestic violence, mutual agreement or refusal to pay rent.
* Fixed term tenancies would become periodic tenancies if they were not renewed during the emergency COVID-19 period.

The COVID-19 emergency period will end on Sunday 28 March 2021. This means ordinary residential tenancy laws in WA will once again become applicable.

Housing Choices WA staff have continued to complete annual eligibility and rent reviews as they became due during the COVID-19 emergency period. If a rent review resulted in a rent decrease, the decrease was implemented immediately. If a rent review resulted in a rent increase, the increase was postponed. In line with the end of the Residential Tenancies (COVID-19 Response) Act 2020, increases to rent that were postponed during the emergency period will become effective on the first rent due date on or after Sunday 28 March 2021.

If you are experiencing difficulties paying your rent, please contact our Tenant Accounts Team on 9534 0425. They will work with you to arrange a repayment plan that is right for you.