Marjorie Oke Apartments, an award-winning development in Fairfield, Vic

Status: Completed

In just 14 months, Unison entirely revamped a heritage 22-bedroom rooming house and built a new apartment complex on site in Station St, Fairfield, Vic, to provide a total of 38 modern self-contained homes for women in need.

While paying respect to the property’s heritage, Unison focussed on improving the quality of accommodation for our tenants. This project is part of our Rooming Houses Renewal Program. Driven by our mission to create communities that thrive and research from the Unison Housing Research Lab, Unison has made the strategic direction to move away from Rooming Houses as a form of accomodation, preferring self-contained, good-quality apartments for our renters.

Photo of Unison's property in Fairfield

Steeped in history, the property has an interesting story to tell. The main heritage building was built in 1893 and was home to the confectioner, MacPherson “Mac” Robertson, inventor of the Freddo Frog and Cherry Ripe, and well-known philanthropist.

After being sold in 1922 and ever since, the property has been providing housing for women at the margins of Melbourne’s society.

Today, the Marjorie Oke apartments – named after a fervent activist for women, Indigenous people, and the aged who was local to the area – provides safe and secure homes to women experiencing or at risk of homelessness in the Darebin area.

Photo of Unison's property in Fairfield, showing a modern building on the left and a heritage building on the right and of the Oke's family

The $11.5m project was in part funded by the Victorian State Government’s Community Sector Owned Rooming House upgrade program.

The balance of the project’s costs was funded by Unison. As a not-for-profit organisation, Unison reinvests operating surplus back into our services, our properties and our communities, and importantly the development of much-needed affordable housing.

In October 2021, this community housing development was shortlisted as a finalist in the UDIA Victoria 2021 Awards for Excellence, within the Urban Renewal category and the Affordable Development category. 

In December 2021, Unison was proud to win the 2021 PIA VIC Award for Planning Excellence for Great Place for this property.



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