About Better Renting

Images of renters appreciating their rental homes

Better Renting is a community of renters working together for stable, affordable, and healthy homes.

Your housing has a big effect on your health. But with more Australians locked out of home-ownership, more of us are renting for longer and raising children in unhealthy homes. This is a big problem: a home that is too cold, for example, can contribute to asthma or stroke. People renting on a low-income, or with a health condition, are especially  vulnerable. Even if a house is too expensive to buy, you still need a home that keeps you healthy.

As a non-partisan community organisation, we use three complementary approaches to achieve our mission:

  • Campaigning for rental laws that provide healthy homes;
  • Growing communities of renters who are empowered to defend and extend their rights; &
  • Changing the narrative, so that our culture values and promotes renting. 

Media

For any media enquiries please get in touch on 0432 138 837.

Our staff

A photo of Joel Dignam

Joel Dignam

Joel Dignam is the Executive Director of Better Renting. He has a background in organising and campaigning across non-profits, unions, and electoral politics. Joel has studied Leadership, Organizing and Action with Professor Marshall Ganz through Harvard's Kennedy School of Executive Education, and he holds an Advanced Diploma of Management from the Groupwork Institute of Australia. In 2022 he completed a Churchill Fellowship through the US and the UK, learning from tenant movement organisations.

Bernadette Barrett

Bernie Barrett

Bernie is Better Renting's Advocacy Coordinator. She has a background in consumer and lived experience advocacy and leadership. She most recently worked with peak bodies across health, mental health lived experience, and LGBTQIA+ advocacy in South Australia. Bernie has a strong focus on social justice and brings her passion for community-driven change and systemic advocacy together into her work at Better Renting. She is a 2022 Australian Progress Fellow.

Luke Catania

Luke Catania

Luke is Better Renting's campaigner on Healthy Homes for Renters. His background is in youth and health advocacy, fundraising, and political communication. He has significant lived experiences in the health system and brings this experience into his advocacy for healthier homes and communities. Luke holds a bachelor's degree from the University of Canberra.

Our Board

Lani Perlesz - Chair

Lani is a Canberra-based renter with a passion for communal living. She currently works at Climateworks Centre and previously was an Assistant Director in the Behavioural Economics Team in the Federal Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet. She holds a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Melbourne and a Graduate Certificate in Public Policy from the Australian National University.

Jordan Thompson - Treasurer

Jordan is an accountant with experience working for top 10 accounting firms in Sydney and the Gold Coast. He is passionate about progressive economics and understanding the policy tools that can drive positive social outcomes. Jordan is also a CFA Level I candidate and is undertaking a Master’s in Business Data Analytics at Bond University.

Sophia Walter - Secretary

Sophia Walter is a renter and a campaign communications specialist. She has worked around the world and Australia on the important link between environmental conservation and the people it directly involves. Sophia has a Bachelor of International Relations, a Master of Journalism, and professional experience with a political office, Fairfax Media, environmental organisations, a native title organization, and an investment firm.

Maiy Azize

Maiy Azize

Maiy Azize is an experienced communicator, manager and social researcher. Maiy is the Deputy Director at Anglicare Australia, a national network of agencies linked to the Anglican Church. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in population studies and political science, and a Master of Social Research from the Australian National University.

David Jeffery

David is a renter living in Melbourne who also grew up in public housing. He is passionate about achieving housing justice and ensuring that everyone has access to decent, secure, and affordable housing. David has worked in various roles in the Victorian public service, in politics, and for anti-poverty and climate change organisations. He is currently General Manager of Advocacy and Communications at YSAS (Youth Support + Advocacy Service).

Leo Patterson Ross

Leo Patterson Ross was born and continues to work on unceded lands of the Gadigal people. Justice around land and housing has been his goal for more than a decade in roles across community development and tenant advocacy. As CEO at the Tenants' Union of NSW, he leads the organisation's response to a changing renting system, with a focus on assisting renters, their advocates, and the broader public to understand, navigate, and question the way NSW and Australia houses its people.

You can contact us using the form below.