Victoria’s regional housing and worker shortage drives extreme measures ahead of summer vacation


Colac Otway Shire, which hosts Apollo Bay, has also changed its local laws, so workers can camp on private land continuously until the end of April next year.

The county has declared a crisis in essential workers and housing.

More people have moved to the areas in recent years as some vacation home owners have started to generate lucrative income by listing their properties through short term property rental platforms such as Airbnb.

Homeownership has become increasingly inaccessible, with the median home price in Lorne hitting $ 1.65 million, compared to $ 1.52 million for Aireys Inlet and nearly $ 1.5 million for Jan Juc.

These factors have wiped out affordable, long-term rental properties.

This summer, Clive Goldsworthy will be welcoming seasonal workers to the semi-autonomous unit attached to his Lorne home, and he wants others to do the same.

The former city councilor is opening his home as part of the ‘Adopt a Worker’ program launched by the Lorne Business and Tourism Association. The group estimates that Lorne needs at least 100 workers and the same number of beds.

Clive Goldsworthy will rent a freestanding unit that is part of his house to seasonal workers. Credit:Eddie jim

“We’re finding that businesses are closing a day or two a week, or just doing breakfast and lunch,” Goldsworthy said. “Others may just be having dinner. “

He plans to charge around $ 135 per week, so housing is affordable for workers.

The association is appealing to anyone with a spare room, a granny’s apartment, a house or a campsite to accommodate workers at a reasonable price.

Leon Walker, owner of the cafe, surfboard rental and health food company HAH Lorne Beach, has cut trading days and customer numbers because he can’t find enough workers.

Leon Walker and his wife Katie, owners of HAH Lorne Beach cafe, have had to reduce their hours of operation.

Leon Walker and his wife Katie, owners of HAH Lorne Beach cafe, have had to reduce their hours of operation. Credit:Eddie jim

Existing staff work extended shifts.

“It hits everyone,” he said. “We don’t want to exhaust the staff even before the peak season. “

Businesses on Lorne’s Main Street advertise workers, and some were closed on the first day of summer this week, despite an influx of schoolchildren.

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Mr Walker said securing a rental property for the long term or even for a few months was next to impossible across the Surf Coast.

He hoped homeowners would embrace the worker adoption program in a spirit of community contribution, rather than listing properties on short-stay sites for the highest possible price.

Geelong Region Alliance chief executive Giulia Baggio said local businesses would not be able to make the most of the holidays if they were short of workers.

“The hopes are really high this summer for a huge rebound,” she said. “But housing and labor shortages are a huge drag.”

The alliance, which represents five councils and other industry groups, has spoken to pension funds about investments in affordable housing.

Bass Coast Shire chief executive Ali Wastie said many Melburnians had moved to the Bass Coast in recent years to work remotely, which meant private rental properties previously accessible to key workers were no longer available.

“Wanted by Staff” signs are common in Lorne. Credit:Eddie jim

The council releases land in Wonthaggi for more housing.

It also decided to make unused road reserve land available for affordable housing in Cowes and Wonthaggi. But Ms. Wastie recognized that more needed to be done.

“Unfortunately, [the] The city council doesn’t have a lot of council-owned land that is suitable for housing, ”she said.

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The Mornington Peninsula Shire also declared a housing crisis last month and councilors voted to work with other coastal councils to resolve the issue.

The council cited the lack of affordable housing, particularly in Sorrento, Rye and Portsea, as one of the main contributors to the shortage of workers in the area. There are currently 3,000 short-term rentals on the Mornington Peninsula, the county said.

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