Frank Otis. A life of advocacy.
An artist and music buff with an impressive music collection, Frank, a resident at one of Unison’s properties, is a true community champion.
Frank has acted in local theatre productions, in feature and short films and in music clips. He also used to run “Keep Left”, a theatre company that portrayed social issues, and was one of the first theatre companies to put on a play about refugees.
“I’ve been an advocate all my life,” Frank tells us on a sunny afternoon when we meet him in his home.
Over six years ago, Frank found himself homeless after a personal and relationship breakdown.
Mission Australia supported Frank to find housing and suggested he might like to look at an apartment managed by Unison in Altona, then part of a newly constructed award-winning Unison social housing apartment complex for people over 55 years.
“I drove down the street and thought that’s not it! It was really fancy,” said Frank.
“I was one of the first to move in. I really like the design and feel of my apartment; the complex is not too big. The area is very safe and there is a really nice sense of community here.”
Frank’s passion for social issues and tenant involvement laid the foundation for his role as Convenor of Unison’s Tenant Advisory Group (TAG).
Unison’s TAG is made up of tenants of different ages and backgrounds and provides feedback and advice to Unison about how to best meet the needs of tenants.
The role is very important to Frank. “I want to give back to community. An important part of my job as Convenor is to encourage people to speak up and have their voice heard,” he explained.
“TAG’s role is to be the link between tenants and all levels of Unison including the Board.”
TAG has had some great achievements including an upcoming project which will see tenant “guides” supporting previously homeless people settle into long-term housing.
“If we can slow the rate of people moving back into homelessness we have done our job ten times over,” enthused Frank.
Frank is a valuable community member. He knows the benefits of being engaged and having a voice.
“Being involved in activities that get people out of their homes and socialising is very important to improving lives. Tenants feel like they belong rather than feeling isolated and alone.
“TAG provides an opportunity for the Unison Board and tenants to have an increased understanding of each other’s points of view, to have a closer relationship and to work together to achieve our same aspiration – affordable homes, social connection and improved lives.”