Recent article from Urban Village magazine.
When There’s a Will, There’s a Way.
Words by Tess Scholfield-Peters
The Department of Family and Community Services (FACS) is inviting local businesses in Surry Hills to donate and support their Wills Day initiative.
Wills Day is a collaborative project from FACS, the Council on the Ageing (COTA) NSW, Senior Rights Service and Legal Aid NSW. On October 26, free legal advice and services such as the drawing up of Wills, Enduring Power of Attorney and Enduring Guardianship will be available to Northcott social housing tenants over the age of 55.
The Northcott Estate is comprised of social housing tenants living in the John Northcott building on Belvoir Street, and tenants living in surrounding Riley Street, Wilton Street, Clisdell Street, Belvoir and Devonshire Street.
COTA NSW has qualified solicitors who will offer free consultations to draw up the documents for a fee of $50 per document. FACS is seeking donations of a minimum of $500, which will allow for ten documents to be written up.
“The aim of Wills Day is to attract older tenants who are on a pension, and who don’t have a will, or have a will that needs updating, and ensure that as many of our community members as possible have something in place for them when they move on,” says FACS Community Development Worker Martin Clark (pictured above).
The Northcott building, a 1960s ‘vertical estate’, is comprised of 430 dwellings, representing approximately 50% of social housing in the area.
In 2016, Family and Community Services (FACS) conducted an in-depth study of the Northcott community, which involved gathering surveys from social housing residents, local businesses, service providers and passers-by.
From this study, the Northcott Estate Collaboration Implementation Plan was developed. The main aim of the two-year plan is to work towards a more vibrant, diverse, safe and healthy community through collaborative efforts between both government and non-government agencies.
The study also revealed that of the Northcott tenants, around 300 are over 60 years old and many do not have a Will or basic planning estate documents.
“It’s important to know that your wishes are going to be followed through when you pass on. It’s nice to know that if you do have things that you want to leave to people or make certain provisions, there is a legal document to help you with that,” explains Martin.
Martin Clark has been working with FACS for over twenty years, and has held his current position as Community Development Worker for two and a half years.
“I work very closely with the community and I build a lot of respect and trust because I’ve worked in the area for a very long time,” says Martin.
“Social housing residents are part of the community which makes up Surry Hills and we all have to work together,” says Martin, “seeing the achievements, seeing the community evolve and grow, that gives me a lot of hope for the future.”
By donating $500, local businesses as part of their Corporate Social Responsibility can help to provide social housing residents with vital legal documents and a service that they may not otherwise have access to.
Postscript: While Wills Day was last month, if you are a business or individual who wants to help, please get in contact with FACS, The Pottery, 31 Belvoir Street Surry Hills, P (02) 9319 9322
Payments can be made to the auspice for Family and Community Services via:
Charmaine Jones - Executive Officer, Inner Sydney Voice
770 Elizabeth St, Waterloo NSW 2017
PO Box 3277 Redfern NSW 2016
Phone: 9698 7461
Click here to view the digital version.