Last night, Council declared a short-term housing crisis for key workers in the Surf Coast Shire, following a motion of intent by Cr Gary Allen on May 5, 2021.
The Lorne tourism hotspot was used as a case study for the region, highlighting the effects of a high staff turnover rate, a lack of an international workforce of hikers and students ( 95% of Lorne’s seasonal workforce) and the lack of suitable housing as drivers of the crisis.
“Businesses are being forced to cut trading hours, and in one case, a business had to shut down for a weekend due to understaffing, affecting Lorne’s reputation,” Allen said. . “It is a place famous for its gastronomy, but this is in danger because experienced chefs cannot find accommodation.
A Lorne company said the closest accommodation option for staff is in Armstrong Creek, which also has high demand and high prices. This is not considered a long term option given the late hours of hospitality and the long travel time.
Cr Allen called for a coordinated approach involving Council, the local community, the G21, the Great Ocean Road Coast and Parks Authority and the Government of Victoria to explore short-term solutions. He called on the Victorian government to be at the forefront and use the Surf Coast Shire as a pilot project to develop a medium to long term strategy to address what he sees as a nationwide problem.
As a result of the statement, advisors will now develop an action plan to support the response and recovery activities of businesses in Lorne, as well as others across Surf Coast Shire that have been affected by the lack of housing for key workers.
“If this is the situation today, imagine the problem over the summer months,” Cr Allen said. “I thank my fellow Councilors for their support and look forward to working on the possible Council response.”