Dogs to accompany the homeless


By Eden Hynninen

A planned village for homeless people now has its sights set on housing residents’ animals.

Transition Village Wallan will host a ‘Sweet Treats’ music event to raise money to keep residents’ furry friends in the village.

The village is a sustainable living concept with a village of tiny houses for people experiencing – or at risk of – homelessness in and around Wallan.

Chief executive and founder Judy Clarke has spent many years researching and planning the development and expects construction to begin soon.

“We’re going ahead with the planning application for council to have a look at and review,” she said.

“We are fully supported by the staff of Mitchell Shire Council as we work through the planning process for the village and hopefully have the village up and running by mid-August.

“One of the programs we’re running will be ‘pets in the village’ where three out of the six residents will be able to have their dog stay.

“We want to keep residents together with their best friends – it’s a unique idea for the village.

“This means we will need to build infrastructure for them including kennels, crates and food among other things at the property.”

Open House Cafe owner Karan Awasthi and Transition Village Wallan chief executive and founder Judy Clarke are hosting a ‘Sweet Treats’ music night to raise money for dog-friendly additions to the village.

In order to build these additions, the village is holding a fundraising event at the Open House Cafe in Wallan at 12pm on July 14.

“Tickets are $10. There will be music from vocalist Anne Gasko who has been supporting this project for years. She is a brilliant performer who will be singing popular 60s, 70s and 80s pop tunes,” she said.

“So come down for lunch and enjoy the music. All profits will go to the village.”

Ms Clarke remembers reading books like ‘World without Trees’ and ‘Silent Spring’ in school about human impacts on the environment.

The book inspired her to create the transition village, which is based on conjoining the principles of permaculture and sustainable living and reducing society’s carbon footprint.

She was inspired by work in the US from organisations like Dignity Village and Sanctuary Village.

“We’re using the village to help people because it’s against all community and personal values to have someone who hasn’t got the basics,” she said.

“We’re trying to use materials that are sustainable, or at least don’t need repairs or painting.

“We’re putting in productive gardens and being off grid as much as we can using grid connect solar systems, composting toilets and water tanks.”

Transitional housing residents can stay for up to 12 months and are provided support for a safe, sustainable and better connected way of life.

“In our village, people will be encouraged to fix things themselves, go to the repair cafe in Seymour or start one here – we want them to learn resilience,” Ms Clarke said.

“It’s about teaching how to bulk buy and cook and how to use grains. The final piece of the jigsaw is all around climate change – you can cook healthily and not think about climate change but you can’t look at climate change and cook unhealthily.

“We have a list of programs that we want to offer residents including solar sustainability, gardening programs, aquaponics et cetera.”

For more information on the event call Judy Clarke on 0404 740 261.


  1. How better to house people than using sustainable means. Thanks Judy for highlighting to all of us, that we can eat sustainably. 50% of all greenhouse gasses are attributed to the animal agriculture industry not to mention loss of free animals and much needed land and water that are used to grow crops to feed the animals we eat.

  2. This project may be inspired by some minor aspects of the original Dignity Village in the US. However, this is not the Village model. Dignity Village is an autonomous, collectively run tiny home village, which was created and is still managed by the Village residents themselves, since 2000. Dignity Village manages its own nonprofit, collectively makes its own policies, and various community organizations offer them support via donations, volunteer labor, and services. Dignity Village provides the housed community with educational opportunities to learn about issues impacting houseless people and how the Village operates to maximize sustainability and affordability, not the other way around. To assume that houseless people somehow lack resilience or understanding of how to live sustainably or affordably implies a deep misunderstanding of the systemic causes of houselessness. The heart of the Village model is belief in the strengths, expertise, and leadership abilities of houseless people.

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