ADI Policy Forum
Homelessness in the 21st Century Australian City

18 December 2017
6.00 pm to 8.00 pm
Deakin Downtown

The issue of homelessness has captured the nation's attention in dramatic new ways. The number of people sleeping rough in cities like Melbourne and Sydney has grown starkly and suddenly.

Homeless Australians have congregated in public spaces for both pragmatic and political reasons, prompting conflicts like the recent evictions of campers from Martin Place and Flinders Street.

Members of the greater public have evinced a spectrum of responses, from compassion to contempt, and mounted a range of projects, rhetorical, regulatory, and humanitarian alike. What are their implications? How will this issue unfold as the transformation of our cities continues apace?

Event details

Australian homelessness follows a global pattern. Around the world, for example, “global” cities like Melbourne and Sydney find their parallel fortunes accompanied by increasingly precarious populations with no fixed abode. And as cities of all sizes are ever more integrated into a single global economy, the ranks of the unsheltered have grown to a billion strong—almost one out of every seven humans on the planet. In the coming decades, it will be crucial to understand why, and how to respond. This panel is intended therefore to explore the causes and consequences of homelessness here in Australia, along with different policy responses, and to locate them within the larger patterns of transformation that are affecting urban economies around the world.

This timely ADI Policy Forum brings together experts from advocacy, academia, and public policy to explore the implications of this issue for cities across the country. We will ask: What global currents of urbanisation, investment, inequality, and displacement will remake the Australian city in the 21st century? What do they portend for the most vulnerable among us, and how might policy makers respond?

Meet the panel

Councillor Nic Frances Gilley MBE, City of Melbourne

Councillor Nic Frances Gilley MBE City of Melbourne

Nic left the UK 20 years ago after founding and leading a homelessness organisation that was recognised globally for its innovation and for which Nic was awarded an MBE.

On arriving in Australia he was asked to lead one of Australia’s premiere welfare organisations and for this work was awarded a Centenary medal. He is recognised by the World Economic Forum as a world leading social entrepreneur, and is an award-winning author for his writing on social enterprise.

Since 2005 Nic has founded and led two organisations focused on CO2 reduction, energy security and affordable energy. The organisations delivered some of the world’s largest energy efficiency campaigns, changed the way UN carbon credits are generated globally and cut global CO2 emissions by tens of millions of tonnes. He Chairs Melbourne City Council's Transport Portfolio and is Deputy Chair of its Aboriginal City Melbourne Portfolio.

Tony Keenan, Chief Executive Officer, Launch Housing

Tony Keenan, Chief Executive Officer, Launch Housing

Tony Keenan has been CEO of Launch Housing since July 2015. Launch Housing was formed through a merger of Hanover Welfare Services and HomeGround Services and Tony was CEO of Hanover since 2006. He was formerly General Secretary of the Victorian Independent Education Union. He has served in many community and policy advisory roles including as current chair of the Inner Metro Partnership (Vic Government), a member of the Australian National Council on AIDS and the Australian Social Inclusion Board. He has served as Chairperson of the Australian Foyer Foundation, President of the Victorian AIDS Council and national president of the Australian Federation of AIDS Organisations. He is a graduate of the Executive Masters in Public Administration from the Australian New Zealand School of Government (ANZOG) and was awarded a Harkness Fellowship in Public Policy to the University of California, San Francisco.

Associate Professor Tamara Walsh, University of Queensland

Associate Professor Tamara Walsh has degrees in both Law and Social Work, and her interest is in social welfare law. Her research studies examine the impact of the law on vulnerable people including children and young people, people experiencing homelessness, people on low incomes, people with disabilities, mothers and carers. Most of her studies are sociolegal and empirical in nature, and she draws on human rights discourse and social exclusion theory to explore the influence that the law has on complex social problems. Her research has been widely published in Australia and internationally. She undertakes pro bono legal practice in the area of child protection.

Spike, Homeless Persons’ Union of Victoria (HPUV)

Peter ‘Spike’ Chiappalone Homeless Persons’ Union of Victoria (HPUV)

Spike is a founder of the Homeless Persons’ Union of Victoria (HPUV), a collective of sheltered and unsheltered advocates for housing reform and for the rights of homeless people. The HPUV has often taken action to challenge public policy decisions concerned with homelessness, including a 2016 public occupation of several state-owned properties in Bendigo Street, Collingwood for eight months to draw attention to the inadequacy of housing policy and emergency shelter. Spike is also a co-host of 3CR’s weekly programme, Roominations, which broadcasts the stories of people experiencing homelessness and housing instability. Spike also works in the nonprofit sector, helping people to find shelter and survive on the streets. Having experienced homelessness himself, and completed an arts degree and a community development diploma while living on the streets, Spike argues that homelessness is the result of systematic forces rather than individual choices.

Panel Convenor

Dr David Giles

Dr David Boarder Giles writes about waste, cities, and social movements. His current projects all explore the ways in which discarded surpluses—of people, places, and things—are circulated in “global” cities. These interests lead him to look into commercial food waste and dumpster-diving, homelessness and public space, and grassroots countercultural networks like Food Not Bombs.

Forum Convenor

Professor Jon Altman

Professor Jon Altman is a Research Professor at the Alfred Deakin Institute for Citizenship and Globalisation at Deakin University and an Emeritus Professor at the Australian National University’s School of Regulation and Global Governance.  He is a commentator and activist on issues related to the appropriate economic development and policy for Indigenous Australia.

About the Alfred Deakin Institute Policy Forums

The Alfred Deakin Institute Policy Forums aim to provide a high profile platform by which the Institute brings together policy makers, researchers and community members for informed debate on important emerging policy issues. They aim to foster informed debate, engage the public and provide research-led input to policy formation at national, State and regional levels.

a homeless person sleeping on the street

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Key information

Date and time

Monday 18 December
6.00 pm - 8.00 pm


Deakin Downtown
Tower 2, Collins Square
727 Collins Street