|Description of this AgencyDescription of this Agency|
Establishment and Functions
A Slum Reclamation Abolition Board was appointed by Cabinet on 19 July 1936 to investigate housing in Victoria after concerns were expressed about the ability of many local municipalities to cope with increasing demands for housing associated with the establishment of large manufacturing industry. Subsequently the Housing Commission of Victoria was established by the Housing Act 1937. Following an initial investigation of housing conditions a further Act was passed in 1938, the Slum Reclamation and Housing Act. The two Acts defined the following main principles governing the operations of the Commission:
improvement of existing housing conditions
determination of minimum standards with which new houses must comply
reclamation of insanitary areas
provision of houses for persons of limited means
zoning, i.e. the division of municipal districts into residential and other areas.
From this early period until the 1970s emphasis was placed on clearing slum areas and re-housing people of limited means at the cheapest cost. From 1945 funding was provided for public housing under the Commonwealth State Housing Agreements and the Commission built large estates of public housing (houses, units and multi-storey flats) in cleared areas in the inner urban region and in undeveloped areas on the outskirts of Melbourne. A Concrete House Factory, known as the Holmesglen Concrete House Project, was established to facilitate the cheap mass production of prefabricated houses.
The first significant change in the Commission's functions resulted from the Housing Act 1943. This Act enabled the Commission to let or lease houses to persons of limited means who wished to purchase a home. The Housing Act 1953 widened the objectives and powers of the Commission to enable it to cope with the planning requirements of large estates. In 1959 the Aborigines (Houses) Act (No.6498) provided for the Housing Commission to enter into contracts to build houses for Aborigines on behalf of the Aborigines Welfare Board. This responsibility passed to the Ministry for Aboriginal Affairs (VA 2873) in 1968. In 1975 the Commission resumed responsibility for housing for Aborigines when the Ministry for Aboriginal Affairs was abolished.
Relationship to Treasurer and Minister of Housing
The Commission reported to the Treasurer (VRG 23) until 1945 when the first Minister of Housing (VRG 53) was appointed. Although the Commission was thereafter responsible to the Minister of Housing it remained administratively within the Treasury (VA 865), until 1973 when it became part of the new Ministry of Housing (VA 609) established under the Housing Ministry Act 1972.
Establishment of Ministry of Housing 1972 and Abolition of Commission 1983
The Ministry was established to provide for the better administration of the laws relating to housing in Victoria and took over from the Commission responsibility for central co-ordination of the housing function. The Commission continued to be responsible for the Ministry's purchase and construction program, the allocation of funds, general tenancy arrangements and house sales until it was abolished and the Ministry restructured under the provisions of the Housing Act 1983. The abolition of the Commission was effective from 1 January 1984.
Location of Records
Some records of the Commission are held by the Public Record Office.
See also List of Holdings 2nd edition 1985, section 3.12.2.