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February 2018


  1. CEO’s report
  2. Affordable Housing Conference 2018 program sneak peak
  3. Affordable Housing 2018 Sponsorship Prospectus
  4. Communities Plus
  5. Midlachlan visit
  6. March Federation Exchange
  7. ACHIA – Aboriginal Peak
  8. Social and Affordable Housing Fund (SAHF) - Round 2 EOI
  9. Why Investment in Community Housing is the Answer
  10. Australasian Housing Institute (AHI), Membership
  11. New Affordable housing provider prequalification scheme
  12. City Of Sydney’s Annual Summer Street Count
  13. Federation Staff visit Community Housing Provider
  14. Tribunal Update – February 2018
  15. SDA Gets Serious: The Forum
  16. In the Media

CEO's Report

Last week, Infrastructure Australia published a new paper, Future Cities: Planning for our growing population and called ‘for the Federal government to have a greater leadership role in securing the global competitiveness of our largest cities’. It recognises both that a growing population (Sydney for example is projected to grow by 2.6 million people in the next 30 years) will ‘unlock new economic frontiers’ while at the same time without strategic direction and targeted investment in infrastructure our cities won’t cope and will become more unaffordable, less productive and not very pleasant to live in.

Perhaps understandably the media reports focused on the paper’s density scenarios and there is little  doubt that poorly designed high rise developments can ‘compound the challenges lower-income and vulnerable residents face’ as argued in recently published work for Shelter NSW  by UNSW City Futures.
The authors pointed to gentrification and poor infrastructure as outcomes from ‘Australia’s market led development model’.

The Infrastructure Australia paper acknowledges that without government intervention - land use and infrastructure investment, social and spatial inequality will become pronounced and access to jobs, good schools and healthy environments determined increasingly by household income. They recommend that the Federal government can do much to incentivise and support infrastructure investment through funding and incentives using structures such as the City Deals so long as these have ‘locally and nationally informed objectives’ and are held accountable for delivery.

What must be key to ensuring that all households benefit from a growing city and its opportunities is developing the right sort of housing in the right locations for rent and purchase at amounts that leave people with sufficient to spend in other parts of the economy. A first step then must be to recognise that housing is as essential infrastructure as a road or a hospital and that if the market cannot on its own deliver what is needed governments should intervene.

While the paper tends to talk about infrastructure as being synonymous with transport, utilities ‘social’ facilities such as schools, prisons and hospitals it reminds us that ‘the Australian Government
has used its position in the federation to influence the development of cities, ranging from the provision of loans to state and territory governments to deliver housing in the 1940s to directly funding urban renewal projects in the 1990s under the Building Better Cities program’. The latter being the program that led to the NSW Government setting up CityWest Housing to mitigate the impact of development in Pyrmont / Ultimo on lower income households.

While there are signs of all levels of government recognising unaffordable housing is an issue they need to address, we are still lacking a comprehensive national and state plan. There remains more work done perhaps to convince policy makers that government investment in housing makes economic sense.

So on March 8, City Futures Visiting Professor Duncan Maclennan will speak about the forthcoming study he led on the implications of housing market performance for the wellbeing of individuals and the growth and productivity of the city economy as a whole. The research due to be published in April was supported by the NSW Federation of Housing Associations members. The very few remaining places for the event can be booked here.

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Affordable Housing Conference 2018 program sneak peak

The Affordable Housing Conference 2018 – Everybody’s Home – highlights the current and growing shortfall accessible and affordable housing in Australia across the entire housing continuum. With the National Housing Finance and Investment Corporation set to open for business this year, one of the major sessions – Bridging the Financing Gap – will highlight innovative ways of financing social and affordable housing developments. Hear from expert key note speaker Emily Cadik, Director Public Policy at Enterprise Communities Partners in the US as well as experts from closer to home.

Register by Wednesday 14 March to secure discounted early bird rates.

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Affordable Housing Conference 2018 Sponsorship and Exhibitor prospectus is here

AHC 2018 will provide a tremendous and diverse platform to interact and network with fellow industry colleagues in the affordable housing industry.
It is our pleasure to extend an invitation for you to consider becoming one of our valued sponsors or exhibitors at AHC 2018. Visit the conference website to download and peruse the Prospectus.

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Communities Plus – Stop press

On 27 February the Hon Pru Goward MP, Minister for Family and Community Services opened a very well attended industry briefing on the Communities Plus program, attracting the community housing, private development and finance industries.

The briefing focused on how the NSW Government’s Land and Housing Corporation have responded to feedback on the first stages of the program, the program’s prime objectives to replace older public housing with mixed tenure development, including more social housing than currently on site and a rundown of the major projects.

The one major project already awarded - Ivanhoe is progressing well with the development application for stage one lodged. Expressions of interest for Villawood, Telopea and Arncliffe are being sought over the next two to three months and registrations of interest are about to be sought for Redfern.

Redfern - a state significant precinct (SSP) of 1.1 hectares – should go to EOI in April. The SSP study will take place alongside the procurement process and proponents will get an opportunity to input into it.

More details on all the projects and the industry briefing will become available on the Communities plus website https://www.communitiesplus.com.au/ soon.  

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Midlachlan visit

https://scontent-syd2-1.xx.fbcdn.net/v/t1.0-1/p200x200/17457735_794513820715301_759417903861628290_n.png?oh=5eaf1608ce085588bebc63e9d0754dbe&oe=5B05B4ACMy job can from time to time seem like one continuous meeting – all of them necessary, most interesting and many with useful outcomes. But I do occasionally have a yearning to get out of the office and remind myself why I’ve spent 30 years in social and affordable housing, by visiting a provider and meeting their staff and tenants.

This month I was welcomed by Mid Lachlan Aboriginal Housing Management Co-op (MLAHMC) at their Dubbo offices. Too often we hear a lot about the problems and issues facing Aboriginal housing and clearly there are many including overcrowding, the need for more investment to improve property standards and providing culturally appropriate services to help people sustain their tenancies. However, this isn’t going to be an article that focuses on what’s wrong but what can we do about it.

1MLAHMC have some serious geography to cover. Over the years they have taken on the management of homes across the north and western NSW, reaching circa 1000 in total. They would be the first to admit this posed logistical challenges – nearly 500 kilometres to many locations from the head office. Tenants rightly want accessible staff and services and not the occasional fly in, fly out.    So it has led to a radical overhaul of the management structure, new satellite offices and a commitment that the new staff will visit all locations once every three weeks.


No automatic alt text available.And MLAHMC can point to initiatives where being on the ground can make a difference. The MLAHMC management team – Seth Toomey, Charlie Trindall and Danika Tonna - spoke about the financial realities of living in remote locations where energy and water costs are high and it can be a 90 minute drive to the nearest shop. Add to that poor access to reputable financial services and hardship follows. So it was good to learn about successful initiatives such as the Legal Aid workshops that aim to spread knowledge and provide advice. The Federation is hoping that we can build on this initiative with MLAHMC’s involvement in our current industry development strategy funded project on financial inclusion.

I mentioned high energy costs earlier and MLAHMC have been part of the consortium along with Murdi Paaki Regional Housing Corporation and Coonamble LALC to deliver tenant education and support services funded by the National Partnership Agreement on Remote Indigenous Housing - NPARIH. The services focused on water and energy usage as well as rent advice. Attendance at the remote workshops were large – 65 turned up to Wilcannia and the results speak for themselves with many tenants reporting large reductions in energy bills and rent collection rates going up too. With NPARIH coming to an end the project’s future is in the balance but at the least it provides a model elements of which could be incorporated into routine practice.

2 As well as talking we did some walking (and driving) to visit homes managed by MLAHMC in Dubbo for the AHO and Nanima Village for Wellington LALC. It illustrates the wide range in housing on offer and the modernisation challenge posed by some of the older homes in the village. At the same time the village has an attractive preschool, a well maintained play area and a future worth investing in.

Image may contain: 4 people, people smiling, people standing This is just a fraction of what we spoke about and I saw and I came away with a better appreciation of Aboriginal housing and plenty of ideas to help the Federation in its work advocacy, policy and practice work. So thanks MLAHMC for a great day and look forward to taking forward all the ideas.



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Federation Exchange – 14 & 15 March

The Federation Exchange is back once again! We are proud to present another program crammed with the latest news, developments and updates from within the sector.  The Federation Exchange is a sector wide opportunity that allows members from across the state to hear from industry leaders regarding sector innovation and policy updates, as well as ideas sharing and networking opportunities.

FedEx is attended by over 250 people over two days and is pivotal to the Federation’s key role of helping housing providers to develop, maintain and build the quality of their services and the skills and capacities in organisations. The Federation does this by supporting networks of people involved in various aspects of the business. In this way, peers can learn from each other and share expertise, good practice and emerging issues.

Don’t miss out – register for the March Federation Exchange here!

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Introducing ACHIA – the latest on the new peak for the Aboriginal Community Housing sector.

The Federation has presented, co-ordinated and advocated for mainstream community housing in NSW since 1991.  There is an overwhelming view from Aboriginal Community Housing Providers (ACHPs) that the time is right for a body to play the same role for Aboriginal housing.

Firstly self-determination is as important in housing as it is in areas such as health and education. At the same time the operating environment for ACHPs is changing and there is potential for ACHPs to grow in scale and scope as the NSW Government establishes its new social and affordable housing policy.

As a result, the Aboriginal Housing Office (AHO) has partnered with the Federation to support the development of a new peak for the Aboriginal Community Housing sector in NSW.

The new peak will be named the Aboriginal Community Housing Industry Association – or ACHIA and it will be consulting the ACHP sector on its structure and priorities for the rest of this financial year.

An interim committee drawn from the sector is guiding this work - they would like to hear the views of all ACHPs and have developed a survey for you to let them know about your priorities for their work.  To complete the survey please go to: http://communityhousing.org.au/achp2018survey.html%20

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Social and Affordable Housing Fund (SAHF) - Round 2 EOI

The SAHF aims to provide homes to the most vulnerable along with ‘coordinated access to support tailored to their individual needs’ and achieve greater independence. In its first round announced on 10 March 2017, five contracts were awarded that in total will deliver 2200 homes and service packages for a minimum of 25 years. It is anticipated that as the properties are procured or constructed further information will become available about the locations and groups that will be assisted.

FACS held an industry briefing for Round 2 of the Social and Affordable Housing Fund (SAHF) on 13 February in Sydney which has a target of 1200 properties. As for round 1 FACS have set minimum ‘package’ sizes - 500 properties in the metro area and 200 in regional areas. FACS outlined issues arising from Round 1 that they had sought to address. These issues included the tendering costs, whether the allocation of project risk impacted on the attractiveness of the investment to private lenders,  the challenges for organisations  accessing ‘concessional’ (sub-market value) land and the lack of sufficient clarity about the commercial framework for the SAHF.

An additional objective is a welcome focus on meeting older womens’ housing needs. This is a testament to those who have worked so hard in the last couple of years to highlight the growing numbers of older women in NSW who are homeless or at risk of homelessness.

FACS stressed that proposals had to be for housing in areas of demand and that they were making available data to organisations interested in bidding. FACS have indicated a preference for 30% of the new supply to be in regional areas and are looking for projects that include at least 70% social housing (as opposed to affordable) provision. Projects can include new development, refurbishment of existing stock not currently used for social and affordable housing and /or the lease of private housing not previously used for social and affordable housing .

The request for proposal will be issued in May 2018 to organisations selected from those expressing interest. The deadline for receipt of proposals is August and announcements are forecast for October 2018. Further information is available from the FACS website https://www.facs.nsw.gov.au/reforms/social-housing/SAHF/Phase2

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Why Investment in Community Housing is the Answer

The Federation is very grateful to the Australasian Housing Institute for permission to republish the following article that first appeared in the Dec/Jan issue of Housing Works.

CEO of NSW Federation of Housing Associations, Wendy Hayhurst, presented as part of the session ‘Ready for Growth: Building Australia’s affordable housing industry’ at the National Housing Conference 2017. Below is an article she penned on the subject following her panel appearance.

The community housing industry stands on the threshold of a new phase of growth and business diversification. The housing affordability challenge is emerging as a powerful public issue, and existing social housing delivery models are increasingly seen as socially and financially unviable. In this context, governments from across the political spectrum are increasingly looking to the community housing sector to provide alternatives.

But let’s take a step back and consider why investing in community housing is the answer.

Yes, the sector’s charitable status and the absence of shareholders demanding dividends means extra cash in the system to make housing more affordable. Yes too, eligible community housing tenants (unlike tenants in public housing) can claim Commonwealth Rental Assistance (CRA), which once again brings in more cash, to help balance the books. But these aren’t sufficient reasons to justify community housing as the model for the future, unless we can also guarantee that tenants see, feel and taste the benefits.

This is why the sector backs a strong, fair and (cost) effective regulatory system; not just to make investors feel happy about finance and governance arrangements but also to demonstrate to tenants that we are managing their homes well and delivering excellent services.

So what does an effective regulatory system look like? I think there are three parts to the equation:

  • A strong, capable, high profile and independent national system providing risk-based compliance functions that reduce the overall red-tape burden by encouraging mutual reliance on relevant aspects of the work of regulators and contractual compliance agencies;
  • Industry representative-led and sponsored tools that support community housing providers to continuously improve their businesses and services against ambitious industry-owned housing standards;
  • Individual provider self-regulation systems that include internal audit and mechanisms to find out what tenants really think and experience (e.g. tenant mystery shopping). How far are we away from this vision? I’d argue, not as far as some would say, and there are opportunities for reform, not least the impetus provided by the National Housing Finance and Investment Corporation (NHFIC) Bond Aggregator.

The National Regulatory System for Community Housing (NRSCH) is set for review in 2018, a perfect opportunity to engage with not just providers and investors but tenants and advocates too. We want to see the Commonwealth actively involved in, and contributing resources to, the review so its scope is broad and deep. For too long, registrars have been the poor relations within governments, unacknowledged and even unknown to some key officials. Their important role now needs to be better resourced and recognised. There should be no more AHURI conferences without a registrar on stage.

As a minimum, we would like to see a truly national regulatory system with Victoria and Western Australia on-board, receipt of government subsidy confirmed as conditional on registration, and real independence from policy and funding agencies. We tend to believe that one national registrar is the best way to achieve the fundamental principles of consistency, accountability and independence the system needs. We also think this arrangement is more likely to allow registrars to call upon the technical and specialist skills their job demands.

Pragmatists among us accept that changes of this nature might take time so, while it’s being negotiated, let’s establish the National Regulatory Council (as set out in the 2012 Inter Government Agreement) but with its remit strengthened, empowering it to make changes to practice and to genuinely influence regulatory policy. The system should be more visible and work with the sector to make publicly available much more information about performance, as well as the operating environment that is targeted at potential investors and tenants.

Alongside these changes, we believe there is scope to:

  • Reduce requirements for smaller and specialist organisations – to reflect their risk profiles and other regulatory obligations;
  • Harmonise some of the current standards – there is overlap between the governance, probity and management standards;
  • Enhance or revise standards to reflect more complex corporate structures, arrangements and business diversification among larger providers;
  • Place more emphasis on demonstrating value for money;
  • Ensure cultural competency is incorporated, given the Proportion of Aboriginal tenants living in social and affordable housing;
  • Devise a system better than the current ‘tiers’ classification for determining a provider’s appropriate level of regulatory engagement.

Additionally, the review should open up discussion about how to make public housing subject to common regulatory standards, tested through common approaches to compliance assessment. These seem entirely consistent aspirations for more transparency and accountability through the National Housing and Homeless Agreement (NHHA), as well as the thrust of the Productivity Commission’s recommendations in its draft Human Services Reform Report.

The community housing industry has not been sitting on its hands. Here, in NSW – with welcome government support – the Federation has developed benchmarking products for the national market. Providers have joined in droves demonstrating, we think, a commitment to understanding performance and a desire to drive up standards.

We have just piloted an In-Depth Assessment (IDA) methodology focusing on community housing providers’ governance, financial strength and viability, risk management and efficiency, and value for money. And we are now embarking on a project to facilitate a tenant-led assessment process. Watch this space.

What we, the community housing industry, would like to do next is to develop a comprehensive quality assurance framework, measuring housing management practice against a revamped set of National Community Housing Standards (last reviewed in 2010). We can draw on the earlier work to develop
a product that has the potential to strengthen the overall regulatory system.

What better way for the Commonwealth to kick off a National industry Development Strategy with just a little seed funding.

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Australasian Housing Institute (AHI), Membership

The Federation is very grateful to the Australasian Housing Institute for permission to republish the following article that first appeared in the Dec/Jan issue of Housing Works.
The Australasian Housing Institute (AHI) is the professional body for everyone who works in social housing. The AHI unites and supports a vibrant and self-confident social housing profession across New Zealand and Australia. There are approximately 11,000 people working in paid and voluntary positions in public, community, Indigenous and supported housing services and in tenancy advice.

The Australasian Housing Institute today:

  • has a diverse membership of more than 600 individuals
  • has active branches around Australia and New Zealand linking and supporting people locally
  • provides training and other professional development opportunities for more than 1400 housing professionals every year
  • provides Certified Housing Professional (CHP) accreditation awarded to housing professionals who have demonstrated a commitment to their profession and continuing professional development.
  • recognises and rewards excellence in professional practice with the Housing Awards
  • issues monthly electronic newsletter for housing professionals HousingPeople and produces the premier journal on social housing matters HousingWorks.

Join us! http://housinginstitute.org/About-Membership

As an AHI member, you will benefit from the opportunities for continuing education and development, from the Professional Development programs available to you and from sharing ideas and knowledge with fellow professionals. Your commitment to the AHI also shows your support of the housing profession, adding to its strength, which benefits us all.

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New Affordable housing provider prequalification scheme

Landcom is pleased to announce the new whole-of-government Affordable housing provider scheme is now available.  This scheme covers:

  • The management and construction of affordable housing in different regions of NSW.
  • Affordable housing providers, also known as Community housing providers, are registered and meet the requirements of the National registration system.
  • The scheme will be updated as new providers join.

The Affordable housing page on the ProcurePoint website has further information including, under "Information for buyers", a downloadable excel spreadsheet of prequalified suppliers.  This scheme is available to anyone wanting to find registered Community housing providers. 

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City Of Sydney’s Annual Summer Street Count

On the 19th of February staff at the Federation once again took part in the City of City of Sydney’s annual summer street count.  Between 1-3am volunteers took to the streets of Sydney to record the number of people sleeping rough.  Now in its 10th year, the street count found 329 people sleeping rough in the early hours of Tuesday 20 February, which was 104 less than the 433 people counted in February 2017.  “We welcome the significant decrease in the number of people sleeping rough this summer, which demonstrates we are on the right track with our collaborative efforts aimed at responding to and preventing homelessness - but we must never become complacent,” Lord Mayor Clover Moore said.  For more information on the count, or to get involved in future counts, please click here.

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Federation Staff visit to Community Housing Provider

On the 13 February a number of new Federation Staff visited Bridge Housing Limited in Redfern.  The point of the visit was to expand the understanding of new Federation staff as to the workings of a Community Housing Provider.  The Federation would like to extend their thanks to Helen Tighe and her team for the wonderful overview of Bridge Housing and the Meet and Greet with Operations Team Leaders.  Federation staff were lucky enough to chat with Team Leaders and find out what a typical day working in a Community Housing Provider looks like.  Thank you again Helen for the valuable insight, which will no doubt improved the new Federation staff’s understanding of the sector.

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Tribunal Update – February 2018

Linwood v Coffs Harbour and District Aboriginal Land Council Case

The Coffs Harbour and District Local Aboriginal Land Council v Lynwood was heard in the Court of Appeal on 24 November 2017 and a decision was made on 11 December 2017. The appeal set aside the orders made in the Common Law Division on 19 April 2017.

This means that Section 154E does not apply to social housing terminations and therefore the Tribunal cannot exercise discretion in termination of social housing agreements where there would otherwise be no discretion. This had previously been an issue for Section 85 (90 day no grounds) and Section 84 (end of fixed term agreement) terminations.
This case went to the Supreme Court in April 2017 and it looked at the inconsistency between section 85 (no breach termination on periodic agreement) and section 154E (Tribunal to exercise discretion in termination of social housing agreements) of the RTA. The Court of Appeal found there is no conflict between s 85(3) and s154E.

The Court of Appeal has published its reasons in the appeal [2017] NSWCA 317. Read the full decision on the NSW Caselaw website.

Historical information about the case can be found in June 2017 Housing Matters and November 2017 Housing Matters

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SDA Gets Serious: The Forum

Disability Services Consulting is delivering a series of forums that will provide an up to date briefing on Specialist Disability Accommodation (SDA) from experts who have been there from the start.
This workshop will leave behind the policy discussion to look instead at how real organisations are navigating the SDA maze. Attendees will walk away with practical ideas, tips and greater confidence in entering the SDA market and delivering high quality SDA housing.

Visit the website for more information and to register for the Sydney Forum on 9 April: http://www.disabilityservicesconsulting.com.au/sda-forum-2018

Presented by the Summer Foundation, Opening address by the Hon Jane Prentice MP.

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In the Media

Over the past month the Federation and CEO Wendy Hayhurst have been mentioned in the following news article:

NSW to receive more than half a billion worth of affordable housing by 2020 (Feb 12, 2018)
More than half a billion worth of affordable and social housing will be built in NSW by the non-for-profit sector over the next three years, with the inner west and Canterbury-Bankstown the greatest beneficiaries.  It’s a welcome boost to supply, but the construction of affordable housing isn’t moving fast enough, NSW Federation of Housing Industry chief executive Wendy Hayhurst said.  More here.

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