Mary-Faeth Chenery

David Holmgren will speak at the Safe Place Community Forum on Affordable Housing on Sunday, the 26th of June from 2-4 pm in the Senior Citizens Rooms in Daylesford. David, well known for his work as co-originator of Permaculture and his book ‘Retrosuburbia’, is also a Hepburn Shire resident and so knows the local situation well. David will join Rob Pradolin, Founder of Housing All Australians, as keynote speakers for the event.

I heard David speak at an online housing conference where he said, ‘we have enough buildings’, and this really struck me. Perhaps we need to think in new ways about how to address housing – especially since new buildings are very hard to achieve at the moment with rising costs, little available land, busy builders and the shortage of timber.

David will offer ‘more creative ways to make use of existing housing (and other building) stock. These ideas are part of the background to my RetroSuburbia work focusing on adapting what we have for challenging futures.’

His book RetroSuburbia ‘shows how Australian suburbs can be transformed to become productive and resilient in an energy descent future. It focuses on what can be done by an individual at the household level (rather than community or government levels).’

David wrote, in responding to my invitation to speak at the Forum:

Back in 2017 when doing some research for talks about the RetroSuburbia strategy I checked the 2016 Census data for Hepburn and was stunned to find the permanent resident population north of Doctors Gully was no more than when we moved here in 1985. My estimate, based on memory and air photos, was that the square meters of buildings, if not number of residences has more than doubled in that time. Thus we can see that over those decades building construction has done nothing to increase the number of people with homes. For those with homes, the debt burden or rent is now very onerous, the population has aged, the semi-rural character has been lost with gentrification and more people who work here commute from further afield.

The Safe Place Community Forum is designed to engage local community members, businesses and Council in finding practical solutions to the great need for more social and affordable housing in our Shire. With speakers like David Holmgren, we can expect an invigorating afternoon.

It takes a village. Please join us to contribute your thoughts and learn from our speakers.

For further information, contact Mary-Faeth Chenery, or 0428 481 754.


Mary-Faeth Chenery, PhD, is a Daylesford resident and the Vice-president of Safe Place Housing Inc.


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Rob Pradolin Keynote Speaker for Safe Place Community Forum