St Vincents to move 150 Moslim into retirement village
RETIREMENT village residents fear being victimised if they speak out against plans allowing Syrian and Iraqi refugees to lease units in the same centre they call home.
St Vincent’s Health Australia has submitted a planning scheme amendment request to Planning Minister Richard Wynne as part of a bid to lease one-bedroom units to displaced women and children for short to medium-term rentals at its Eltham centre.
But a person living inside the village, who spoke to the Diamond Valley Leader on condition of anonymity, said residents were not consulted about the proposal.
“It was either like it or lump it,” the resident said.
“We were told it was going to enliven the community and become a more vibrant and dynamic place, but this is a retirement centre.
“We’re all waiting here to die.
“Some of the older people are on walking frames and they’re not game to speak up because they’re afraid they’ll be victimised.”
The decision by St Vincent’s to provide lodgings was made in the wake of the Tony Abbott-led Federal Government’s 2015 plan to resettle 12,000 refugees fleeing Syria and Iraq, 4000 of who will call Victoria home.
St Vincent’s mission group leader Jack de Groot previously told the Leader the houses would be leased to the refugees for up to three years before being made available as affordable housing.
But under the Nillumbik Planning Scheme, only people over the age of 65 can live at the village. St Vincent’s made a submission to Nillumbik Council to have the planning scheme changed so the age limit could be reduced, but the application has since been withdrawn.
Nillumbik chief executive Stuart Burdack said the council did not have the power to approve the change, but suggested St Vincent’s liaise directly with Mr Wynne, with the council’s support.
The relative of another village resident, who also did not want to be named, pleaded in a registered letter to Mr Wynne for the application to be refused.
“The residents are feeling very scared and unsafe,” the letter read.
“Please listen to the residents and family members.”
A Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning spokesman said the planning scheme amendment request from St Vincent’s had not yet been received.
St Vincent’s spokesman Paul Andrews said the organisation was awaiting approval for the planning permit application.