Housing Choices Annual Report 2016-17

A NN U A L R E P O R T 2 0 1 6 - 1 7



About Us

1 3 5 6 8

What We Do

Managing Director Report

Chair Report

Our Board

Our People

11 12 17 18 19 27 30 30 32 33 35 37 39 40 41 42 46 47 51 53 54 55 56 56 57

State Operations

Working With The Experts

Dean’s Story

Resident Advisory Committees

NDIS: The Way Forward

Housing Choices and The NDIS

The Full Range Of Respite


Growing Our Impact

Our Performance Our Properties

What Our Partners Tell Us Achievements and Awards

Expanding Our National Footprint

Our Developments

Making A Mark In South Australia

Resident Articles

Urban Choices Property

The Numbers

Financial Report

Statement of Profit or Loss and Other Comprehensive Income Statement of Financial Position

Statement of Cash Flows

Our Partners



Our core business is providing people with safe and affordable housing. But a house is more than bricks and mortar and a neighbourhood is more than buildings and roads. The key is the people who live in our houses, the families who populate our neighbourhoods and the relationships they establish with us and each other. That is why we value how we interact with our residents and the feedback we receive from them.

From the welcoming smile they receive at our office receptions, to the phone call inquiry that is answered by a human or returned promptly, to timely response to a request for information or property maintenance, we are committed to treating our residents with the utmost respect and consideration. Each year, our Resident and Partner Satisfaction Surveys provide critical information about what we are doing well, where we can improve, and help us monitor the working relationships that are vital to supporting our residents into stable, long-term accommodation. Not only do we want our residents to believe and trust in our commitment to them, we also recognise that as a recipient of significant amounts of public and other money in the form of rent, grants, government funding, bank loans and service fees, our internal management systems, financial controls and compliance responsibilities must be delivered to the highest possible standards. With assets in excess of $640 million, cashflow approaching $150 million p.a. and over 5,500 tenancies, we are much than a ‘cottage industry’ and we support and welcome effective regulation and oversight of our services. Our aim is to develop innovative housing solutions based on real evidence and ensure our experience is documented and evaluated so we can advocate for our residents and adapt our business to what is a constantly changing sector environment.

We are committed to treating our residents with the utmost respect and consideration.


What We Do - Annual Report 2016-17


In line with its strategic plan, Housing Choices actively pursued the expansion of its national footprint this year, achieving significant growth in its portfolio of properties under management and in resident numbers and partnerships. As the housing affordability crisis deepened across the country, so too did the pressure on vulnerable people who found themselves, literally, flowing on to the streets. The levels of homelessness reached heights that have not been seen for many decades. People living with disability and/or mental health issues, the homeless, older people and those fleeing domestic violence found it harder and harder to find suitable and safe housing. While there is much stronger resolve at all levels of government to find solutions to the housing crisis, we believe that there remains a need for direct government intervention and investment in social and affordable housing, as well as a comprehensive national regulatory system for all community housing providers.

We know that with intelligent expansion and growth, there will be economies of scale that will allow us to maximise efficiencies and achieve greater, more innovative and sustainable housing outcomes for all Australians. As we head into our 10th year of operations as the Housing Choices group, we acknowledge the growth that has been achieved, particularly this year in South Australia and Tasmania, as well as the development of our real estate arm, Urban Choices Property, and our increasing engagement in New South Wales, which we will actively pursue in the knowledge that we have much to offer there. Partnerships are key to our operational model and, given the continued reforms of the service delivery sector (disability, mental health and aged care), we continue to expand our partner base to include national service delivery support partners, particularly in preparation for the game-changing National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS). Our staff delivered an extraordinary performance this year and I thank them for their passion and commitment to the work that they do. It is not easy work, but we do it well and it is making a real difference.

Michael Lennon M A N A G I N G D I R E C T O R

What We Do - Annual Report 2016-17 5.

From The Chair Of Housing Choices GROWTH AND EXPANSION

This year was one of great achievement, particularly when viewed against the backdrop of what is undeniably a crisis in both affordability and availability of housing for vulnerable people in Australia. We achieved outstanding results in both partner and resident satisfaction surveys, with Housing Choices recognised as a responsible housing provider that is intently focussed on its mission, vision and values. To support the continued growth of our operations in Victoria, Tasmania and South Australia, as well as our active planning for further expansion, we made significant additional appointments to our Board, welcoming economist Saul Eslake, former Standard & Poors’ senior executive Fabienne Michaux and public policy expert Meredith Sussex AM. We also farewelled Peter Galante and thanked him for an extraordinary 10 years of service as a director. Growth and expansion remain our priority. This year our significant operations in Tasmania and Victoria were

augmented by the smooth consolidation of the merger with Common Ground in South Australia, our successful engagement with Renewal SA and an increasingly active position in NSW. Our private real estate and property management agency, United Choices Property, continues to diversify our operations. In Victoria, highly innovative projects included a major, collaborative rejuvenation of La Trobe Close in inner Melbourne, and project management of a unique respite centre for people living on the Autism spectrum. We also played a key role in helping to deliver the state government’s successful Rapid Housing Program for families escaping domestic violence. In addition, a particular focus is gearing up to meet the transformational opportunities created by the NDIS, for people living with disabilities. Such levels of activity and growth require great attention to detail and sophisticated management. We will continue to increase and improve our internal infrastructure and back-office support capabilities. Our sincere thanks go to our service partners and particularly to our staff, for their unflinching support and commitment in meeting the housing needs of those we serve, in these very challenging times.

Arthur Papakotsias CH A I R

What We Do - Annual Report 2016-17 6.

Our Board


MICHAEL LENNON Managing Director


Arthur has been Chief Executive Officer of Neami National for more than 20 years. He chairs the Finance Audit and Risk Management Committee of Mental Health Australia (MHA). Arthur originally trained as a psychiatric nurse and has completed post-graduate studies in management at RMIT University. He has also completed three residential programs at Harvard Business School: Strategic Perspectives in Non-Profit Management, Authentic Leadership, and Leading Change and Organisational Renewal.

Michael’s international career in housing, planning and urban development spans 25 years and includes CEO roles at the Glasgow Housing Association, where he led the largest housing stock transfer in Europe, and at Housing New Zealand Corporation. He also led the restructure of the internationally recognised Australian Housing and Urban Research Institute. His leadership of Housing Choices has seen the organisation grow to an asset base of more than $640 million, with current operations in three states and a major focus on national growth. Michael is committed to making housing affordable, safe and accessible for the most marginalised members of the community, utilising a mix of commercial and government investment. Collaboration with quality service partners is key to Housing Choices’ business strategy. He currently chairs the Community Housing Industry Association (CHIA) and is a trustee of the South Australian History Trust. He has been an advisor to the World Health Organisation and is an experienced board director and university governor.

Heather is a chartered accountant and graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors. She has held senior management positions in private enterprise and the not-for-profit sector, as well as a number of governance roles in youth, education, employment and yachting organisations. Heather holds a Bachelor of Commerce (Honours) from Queen’s University School of Business and was instrumental in the establishment of Housing Choices Tasmania.



Trevor holds a Bachelor of Laws (Honours), is an accredited mediator (LEADR) and licensed general builder and building work supervisor. His experience and expertise includes the development of commercial strategies for major project transactions and commercial negotiations, including contract documentation and the oversight of delivery and completion of major projects and commercial transactions. He has also conducted and managed major litigation and the resolution of disputes in connection with major projects and commercial transactions by way of arbitration, mediation and negotiation.

Julie is a corporate social responsibility and strategic communications specialist. She has extensive experience in the design and delivery of complex and large-scale strategic communication programs in the corporate internal and external environment, as well as in issues management, and stakeholder engagement and management. Julie has designed and executed multi-dimensional community investment programs in locations throughout Australia and Asia for both corporate and not-for-profit organisations. Her interest in social housing stems from her early involvement in the establishment of Common Ground in Adelaide which is complemented by her involvement in the aged care sector.

What We Do - Annual Report 2016-17 8.

SAUL ESLAKE (appointed - November 2016)

MEREDITH SUSSEX (appointed - June 2017)

OWEN DONALD (resigned - January 2017)

Saul is a well-known international and Australian leader and commentator in economics. In addition to a high profile commercial career, he has held numerous high-profile positions including a board directorship at the Australian Housing and Urban Research Institute (AHURI), and senior roles at The National Housing Supply Council and the Grattan Institute. He has a Bachelor of Economics (Honours), is a graduate member of the Australian Institute of Company Directors and completed the Senior Executive Program at the Columbia University Graduate School of Business in New York.

Meredith Sussex is Chair of the Fishermans Bend Ministerial Advisory Committee in Victoria and a non-executive director of the Australian Housing and Urban Research Institute. She has also been a non-executive director of a number of Boards, including the Board of the Port of Melbourne. She lectures in the masters programme on urban governance at the University of New South Wales and provides high- level consulting advice on public policy, planning and management. Meredith has held senior positions in the Victorian Government, including Deputy Secretary of the Department of Premier and Cabinet. From 2002-2006 she led the Office of Commonwealth Games Coordination, for which she was awarded the Order of Australia in 2007.

Owen has wide-ranging experience in housing policy and management. Owen’s career spans roles in the private and public sectors and academia. He is a graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors and has held a variety of governance roles over the past 20 years, including Chair of Barwon Health, Executive Director of AHURI, and Board membership of Southern Health, HomeGround Services, the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare and the Melbourne Port Corporation. He is now the Chief Commissioner and Chairman of the Victorian Building Authority.

FABIENNE MICHAUX (appointed - January 2017)

PETER SMITH (resigned - September 2016)

PETER GALANTE (resigned - June 2017)

Fab has held a variety of executive and non-executive roles in a career spanning 30 years, including 22 years with S&P Global Ratings where she was Australian Country Head and Head of Developed Markets Asia-Pacific. She is principal of Petrichor Consulting Services Pty Ltd, member of the Australian Advisory Board on Impact Investing, board member and social enterprise advisory committee member of The Song Room, chair of KAGE Physical Theatre Inc., and an advisory board member of Deakin’s School of Business and Law. Fab holds a Bachelor of Business (Economics and Finance) with Distinction from RMIT University, and is a graduate member of the Australian Institute of Company Directors.

Peter retired from ANZ Bank in 2005 after a 41-year career. He has extensive experience in both credit risk management and institutional and commercial banking in Australia and internationally. Senior roles included Assistant General Manager, International Credit Operations, State Manager Credit - Victoria & Tasmania, Chief Credit Executive, Wholesale Credit Operations and Head of Institutional Banking, UK, Europe & Americas (based in London). From 2008 to 2010, Peter returned to ANZ part-time to assist with portfolio assurance.

Peter has an engineering and commerce background. He has 25 years experience in information technology and telecommunication at management level, with the past ten years as CEO and Strategic Planner. He founded and remains a director of Galante Business Solutions, a management services consultancy to the health and aged care industry. He is also founder and director of Mornington Peninsula property development companies, Penplan Pty Ltd and Penplan Construction Pty Ltd.

What We Do - Annual Report 2016-17 9.

Board Meeting Attendance DIRECTOR ATTENDANCE 2016-2017 8 MEETINGS HELD IN 2016-17



Arthur Papakotsias



Peter Galante



Peter Smith



Michael Lennon



Heather McCallum



Owen Donald



Trevor Baldock



Julie Mitchell



Saul Eslake



Fabienne Michaux




Our People


This year was both an exciting and challenging one for Victoria. We saw emerging opportunities coupled with the ongoing challenges associated with housing affordability and a lack of housing supply. In this context, Housing Choices remains focused on innovative ways to maximise our reach to vulnerable and low-income households that require secure and sustainable housing. We also positioned ourselves to take full advantage of new funding and partnering opportunities, and to improve our service delivery, thereby ensuring continued growth and sustainability. Given the importance of partnerships, we sought feedback from our partner agencies during the year, asking them to assess the quality of our work and to identify opportunities for improvement. Overall partner satisfaction reached 92 per cent across Victoria and Tasmania, with support partners reporting very positively about their relationship with us. The introduction of the NDIS opened up a variety of opportunities to advocate for greater housing choice and control on behalf of people with a disability, while we gained momentum in the Specialist Disability Accommodation (SDA) sector. Responding to this new environment and as part of our drive to be a leading provider of specialist disability accommodation, we realigned staff to create a Specialist Disability and Older Persons operational team. Considerable work continues in response to the ongoing rollout of the NDIS, with the National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA) approving the enrolment of four, two-bedroom disability- modified villas at our development in Ormond Road, East Geelong. Successful in our submission to the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) under the Family Violence Program , we secured 69 additional properties to house victims of family

violence. We achieved our target on time and under budget and continue to work closely with our support partners in the delivery of this significant program in response to the Victorian Royal Commission into Family Violence. We were proud to launch our Financial Inclusion in Social Housing (FISH) project this year. It is designed to support residents who are experiencing financial stress, including households that are forced to live off their savings, find themselves in debt or dependent on charity, or are experiencing rental arrears and vulnerability to pay-day lenders. Our role in homelessness is all about partnerships. We continue to build and strengthen our relationships so we can support more people moving out of crisis and transitional housing, into long-term accommodation. Of particular focus for us is our Transitional Housing Program (THP) and the development of new initiatives with our partners such as the Returned Services League and Sacred Heart Mission. Across our Victorian housing operations this year, we managed 1,982 tenancies, completed 327 transfers and assisted a further 47 tenancies in the THP. We acquired 227 new households and invested $1.2 million in upgrading our properties. An additional $2.2 million and $1 million was spent on refurbishing 44 dwellings in North Melbourne and eight dwellings in Geelong, respectively. Five additional dwellings were created through developments in Newport and Werribee, with four Board-approved projects resulting in 28 additional dwellings. We continued our important focus on resident engagement, holding 21 resident meetings. We were also successful in four grant applications, including Mary Street Community Garden (Darebin Council), La Trobe Close Community

Garden (Melbourne City Council), Bute Street Garden Project (Maribyrnong City Council) and Recreation at Home Project (Geelong City Council). In addition we received a grant from Victoria’s Heritage Restoration Fund for restoration works at our Drill Hall site. Our Resident Advisory Committee approved and completed the following Resident Community Fund projects in collaboration with our broader resident community: • Common area planter upgrade for an 11-unit property in Boronia • Irrigation and signage for the St John’s Community Garden in North Melbourne • Raised community garden beds and communal area seating for a 10-unit property in Northcote, and • Support provision to resident Bobby Bajram’s extraordinary Mount Everest disability climb project in 2018. In summary, it has been a busy and rewarding year for the Victorian operations team, which has been able to maintain extraordinary momentum at a time of higher-than-ever demand for housing and increasing pressure on housing supply.

Our People - Annual Report 2016-17



2016-17 was another significant year for Housing Choices in Tasmania, with progress made on many fronts and successful achievements across a number of key business and community areas. Housing Choices values its national and local partnerships, and recognises the importance of those at the grass-roots level involving local stakeholders, such as contractors, support organisations, community houses, child and family centres and municipal councils. Each partnership is critical to the success of Housing Choices’ long-term vision, which is not only to provide good housing but also to support residents and communities to thrive. This will be a consistent theme throughout the years to come and is one of the many attractions of working with an organisation such as ours. In Tasmania, Housing Choices now manages 1,464 homes across the state with 1,142 of those located in the North West region under the Better Housing Futures Program (BHF), which was initiated by the state government in 2014. We are now three years into the initial 10-year agreement and, by any measure, it is operating very successfully. We manage a further 275 homes under separate agreements and we own and manage 42 homes in our own right. We continued to progress our goal to increase our owned portfolio and news of the success of a recent bid to deliver an additional 36 homes into the affordable housing market was received with great excitement by the team in Tasmania. We will deliver five additional homes under the state government’s Community Housing Stock Leverage Program , together with 31 new homes under its Regional Supply initiative, in which a strategic alliance with Latrobe Council resulted in approval to transfer four of these homes to local council ownership. It is this kind of collaborative effort that leads to such positive outcomes for the community. This project will see Housing Choices inject close to $4.5 million into the region, with flow-on benefits to local contractors and local industry in general. Work now begins on a development schedule for delivery by the end of June 2019.

Housing Choices’ residents across Tasmania continue to receive a high-quality service. This is reflected in their responses to the annual Resident Satisfaction Survey, which showed an increased level of satisfaction state-wide with our services (89 per cent). Residents housed through a variety of programs in Tasmania remain extremely stable, with those in the North West region continuing to embrace our local service and the extensive community engagement work that we undertake there. To a large extent, it is our willingness to engage actively in building the capacity of our residents’ neighbourhoods and communities that sets us apart. This work, in combination with quality tenancy and property management, is key to the renewal and long-term sustainability of the communities that we serve. Community-focused achievements this year included commitment of $110,000 to community development programs and activities and our Resident Community Fund Grants Program , which, in turn, helped to fund: • Living Well Program , which aims to build self-esteem and confidence, effective speaking and interview skills, savings on day-to-day living costs, healthy living and garden and home maintenance • $1,000 scholarships to the children of a number of our residents to further their educational aspirations • Inspiring Our Kids youth education program • Technology tutoring through Ulverstone Neighbourhood House • Harmony Day community cultural celebration • Teen Cuisine weekend cooking for youths, and • ANZAC memorial garden. All these projects were initiated either by residents or stakeholders and delivered in partnership with the relevant groups and organisations - a testament to the dedication of the communities involved. We also increased participation

levels through our Resident Advisory Committee and were successful in a grant funding application to deliver the 2018 Harmony Day event in Hobart. This year’s many operational achievements are the result of the dedication and hard work of the entire Tasmanian team, which was ably supported by our corporate head office. These include: • Successful implementation of the Rapid Rehousing Program , which assists people escaping family violence into affordable accommodation through the provision of properties that are head-leased from the private rental market • 100% success in approval of National Rental Affordability Scheme (NRAS) incentives • Delivery of $3.1 million in maintenance works • Delivery of $700,000 in upgrade works • Successful wrap-up of the incentive program for residents changing to a lease with Housing Choices • Achievement of a 98% occupancy rate • Reduction in turnaround times on vacated properties to seven days • Increase in the number of tenancies maintained to 89%, and • Continued compliance under the National Regulatory System for Community Housing (NRSCH), retaining our Tier 1 status. The day-to-day work of Housing Choices in Tasmania is truly gratifying. Our staff is committed, our partners are dedicated, and our residents and the broader community have a wealth of passion that is matched with the drive and ability to make real and positive change.

Our People - Annual Report 2016-17 13.


In 2016-17 our commitment to providing more affordable housing for South Australians in need - while ensuring high- quality services and support for our existing residents - was underpinned by preparations for significant expansion. Our successful tender for the transfer of 840 tenancies in the city and east as part of Renewal SA’s Renewing Our Streets and Suburbs Program spurred accelerated growth across the organisation while we continued to deliver strong results and outcomes in our current portfolios. At the heart of our operations was assisting 70 new households into housing - many comprising some of the most vulnerable people in our community. Of our new clients, more than one in five are Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander (ATSI), 69 per cent are living with mental health issues and almost one in three have a disability. Around 16 per cent of new clients were homeless at the time of intake - men, women and children who were sleeping rough before coming to live in our neighbourhoods. The Common Ground support program, which couples housing with intensive case-managed support for those in highest need, remains a key element of our work and commitment to the community. It involves case coordinators working closely with the residents in the program, helping them to solve problems and overcome barriers and issues so they can maintain their tenancies and, ultimately, improve their lives and wellbeing. Crucial to this initiative is our integrated on-site health suite, including dental and general medical practice services that provide free dental and health care to Common Ground Adelaide residents, as well as those who are homeless or at risk of homelessness. In the past year there were 221 visits to the GP clinic and 207 visits to the dental service. In the coming year, the dental service, which is run by the University of Adelaide, will have seen 1,000 clients since its establishment in 2011. Our dedication to place-making continues to grow and evolve as we support our residents to become more connected to their neighbourhoods and community. In 2017 we launched

our Good Neighbour Award Program and facilitated several events, including an Easter morning tea, spring barbecue and Christmas lunch. We also encouraged more of our activities to become resident-initiated and led. Our Monday cooking club continues to thrive with the support of residents and volunteers, while our community garden is well-tended and maintained by residents. The Light Square city playgroup, which is based on-site at Common Ground Light Square, recently celebrated its second birthday with more than 10 regular families attending most weeks, including residents and others who live in and around the city. Other activities that we offer include a music group, soccer teams and yoga, as well as health and wellbeing groups, and educational and training opportunities. The support that we receive from other organisations, agencies, businesses and individuals in the private, public and community sectors is something that we value deeply and for which we are always enormously grateful as it helps us to support our residents. In 2016-17 some of our most disadvantaged residents benefited from subsidised theatre tickets through the Overture Program , hair grooming services from The Basin Haircutters and a special cooking class, using native Australian bush foods, led by Tauondi College. Welcoming the wider community into our neighbourhoods is important for us as we support our residents to build broader connections and positive links to other people and services. It also gives us the chance to learn, share information and showcase the achievements of our residents and staff. This year we. hosted a visit to our community garden by Costa Georgiadis of ABC TV’s Gardening Australia , who provided expert tips and advice on gardening. In May we welcomed the Minister for Housing and Community Development in the Northern Territory, the Hon. Gerald McCarthy MLA, to our head office to see our programs and services first-hand. Minister McCarthy met with staff and residents and enjoyed a tenant-hosted afternoon tea in our Light Square common room.

In the new financial year, we will welcome our new residents through the public housing transfer program and we look forward to extending our high standards of service and support to these new local communities. We will continue to nurture our existing partnerships while forging new ones and pursue new opportunities to grow our affordable housing and supportive housing programs. In particular, we look to build on our existing allied health programs, boost connections to employment and training providers and support ageing-in-place initiatives. It is a privilege to be part of Housing Choices as we break new ground in helping more South Australians into decent, safe and affordable housing.

Our People - Annual Report 2016-17


It’s more than just a job; it’s a willingness to support the most vulnerable, and those who have the least in our community. I admire the passion, drive and teamwork of our people to work with those who, without us, face a growing risk of homelessness.


2016 - 17

This year has been another exciting period of growth and change, developing internal opportunities for existing staff, as well as welcoming and supporting new talent that has come into the organisation. New team structures have been established to maximise the opportunities arising from the rollout of the NDIS; new arrangements and opportunities have emanated from both state and local governments - where our goal is to be agile, adapting to and taking advantage of policy changes - and there has been strategic development of our private real estate and rental agency, Urban Choices Property.

Housing Choices currently has 117 staff spread across the following teams; • Operations - in Victoria, Tasmania and South Australia • Commercial • Finance • People and Culture • Property Development and Asset Management • Corporate Support A range of key appointments was made to support and resource the new operations team in South Australia, which will be up and running in the second half of 2017.

A nationally-focussed commercial team was formed, with key internal and external appointments including Chief Commercial Officer, Commercial Manager and Manager of Urban Choices Property and NRAS Compliance. Additional business development roles were created to focus on NDIS opportunities and Housing Choices’ future expansion into NSW. A new Housing Services operations team was established in Victoria, with particular focus on disability and older persons.

Key Stats:

Our People - Annual Report 2016-17 16.

Working With The Experts OUR RESIDENT ADVISORY COMMITTEES Fundamental to our success is our collaborative approach in partnership with our residents. Resident Advisory Committees in each state are formed by those among our residents who are interested in contributing to their neighbourhoods and communities and in helping us improve our service delivery, programs and the resident experience.

I found the [Resident Advisory] Committee through the Housing

Choices magazine and thought ‘I could do that’. It was another challenge to my intellect…any experiences I can get on- board, I do. Advocating for people in a similar position is all part of it, and I never turn down a challenge.


Our People - Annual Report 2016-17 17.

From Resident, To Key Advisor

Dean’s mental illness had propelled him on a long, downward spiral. From a life of teaching and academia, he found himself struggling with methamphetamine addiction and bankruptcy, homelessness and crisis accommodation, suicide attempts, psychosis and finally, breakdown. In 2012, he spent seven months as an involuntary hospital in-patient emerging disoriented and paralysed with anxiety.

at how others’ lives were depressingly different from his. “Many can’t afford a social life, can’t pay their bills, have no insurance, have exorbitant rent that they can’t afford without a housemate and need charity food parcels. They’re often easily lured by pay-day loans, driving them further into more long- term debt. They’re very isolated and desperately lonely. We plan phone calls just to ensure they speak to someone during the week.” His committee was instrumental in working with Housing Choices and Good Shepherd on a new financial counselling program for residents, offering phone and face-to-face advice and practical workshops. “It offers basic money coaching, helps those on low or fixed incomes avoid pay-day loans or Centrelink advances, and better budget with what they have.” Dean believes empowering individuals with the tools and resources to make responsible choices is paramount to their recovery and success. He has no doubt that having a terrific home base started him on the pathway back to work and community life, to having hope, goals and a future. “My safe, welcoming new home with Housing Choices enabled me to trust, hope and connect again, for which I am ever-grateful.”

that the committee might be tokenistic. I was a bit sceptical. But Housing Choices has always fully engaged with us, takes us seriously and keeps us well-informed. “We’re all dealt with very professionally, our contribution is valued, our opinions heard. It’s not a box-ticking exercise. Housing Choices is very genuine in its intent.” Dean is immensely proud of his involvement with the committee. He is impressed by the comprehensive range of resident involvement in everything, from how to approach the issue of arrears, to setting up hardship provisions, from the wording of letters to residents, to the content and design of the website. Dean and the committee particularly enjoy administering the Community Development Fund, which supports a wide range of resident-run community projects. For him, the annual highlight is the Good Neighbour Awards. “They’re particularly effective in recognising and celebrating the community that Housing Choices has set out to foster. People look forward to it every year and they’re often gorgeously emotional.” Dean says his work on the committee restored his faith in his own capabilities and his employability. This motivated him to seek work in the mental health sector, where he could draw on both his professional and his lived experience. He joined a mental health peer support group, because he was concerned

With little self-esteem, no direction and little hope for the future, Dean prepared for the worst. Desperately down-sizing, he emptied the six bookshelves that had taken him a lifetime to collect. “I literally prepared myself for no life, subsisting in a cramped, dingy, rundown, soulless little flat,” he said. But when he met his Housing Choices housing officer at what was to be his new home, Dean was “astonished”. “Hardwood floors, great condition and layout, a garden, neighbours, close to shops and transport. What more could I want?” he said. “It catapulted me into having hope again.” Dean says Housing Choices’ affordable rent allows him to feed himself adequately, pay his utility bills, health and home insurance and even afford a social life. “I was able to save up and buy a computer, which allowed me to take on work projects, which in turn gave me back a sense of purpose and identity.” Dean began by engaging with the Resident Advisory Committee that provides direct input and feedback to Housing Choices on everything from policy to practice, from new initiatives to key performance indicators. “The Resident Advisory Committee was my first real work project after escaping hospital. “I wanted to give something back to the organisation that provided me such a wonderful home. My initial thought was


The aim of the Resident Advisory Committees is to facilitate and improve communications between residents and Housing Choices, represent residents’ diverse needs and interests, enhance community development and build residents’ engagement in their communities. Raising collective issues that affect our residents’ they provide us with a resident perspective with feedback, advice and recommendations on how we can improve policies, operations, service delivery and resident participation. In addition, they aim to enhance community development programs and resident engagement activities through supporting Housing Choices’ advocacy work in the affordable housing space.

Our People - Annual Report 2016-17 19.

Key Achievements




The Tasmanian committee has eight members and meets every two months. This year the committee: • Reviewed and commented on the Housing Choices website • Reviewed and made recommendations about the Resident Newsletter • Considered and recommended applications for funding from resident groups and/or support partner organisations to the Housing Choices Better Housing Futures Resident Community Fund • Participated in reviewing state-wide community development activities and made recommendations on possible activities for 2017-18, and • Elected chairperson and minute taker/secretary.

The South Australian committee has nine members and meets every two months. This year the committee: • Reviewed resident communications, including social media and a resident-focussed newsletter, as well as the establishment of notice boards and the removal of ad-hoc signage • Established a resident survey regarding artwork in entrance foyers • Investigated door suppressors, which resulted in a new procedure that will see them seasonally adjusted • Developed a resident safety strategy, including building a collaborative relationship with SA Police and conducting three safety workshops • Evaluated services at three Common Ground properties, which resulted in a change to waste collection frequency and the addition of recycling options • Initiated several residents’ events including a very successful pizza lunch, and • Initiated a new cleaning procedure for the outside of windows in multi-storey buildings.

The Victorian committee has seven members and meets every two months. This year the committee: • Regularly reviewed Housing Choices’ Key Performance Indicators for Victoria and provided advice on areas of improvement • Helped to develop new letters to residents regarding rent reviews • Informed and endorsed a revised Housing Choices Resident Community Fund Procedure for Victoria • Completed training on the role, tasks and responsibilities of meeting chairpersons, provided by an external trainer and tailored to residents’ needs • Implemented a rotating chairperson procedure • Hosted a BBQ with Housing Choices staff who are not usually in direct contact with residents in order to extend the influence of the residents’ perspectives to their work • Considered and approved six applications from resident groups and support partner organisations to the Housing Choices Resident Community Fund • Participated in reviewing our communications platforms, and • Critiqued and endorsed our Futures Scholarship Program for residents, which is now in operation.

Our People - Annual Report 2016-17 20.

Developing Real Neighbourhoods

As we expand our national footprint, our state community development teams communicate regularly to:

• Provide updates on their activities and projects; share their successes, challenges, ideas and experiences; and support each other by helping to troubleshoot solutions to any problems that arise • Work together on common projects, initiatives and events • Co-ordinate community development staff updates for all states.

Real Community Participation



Resident End of Year Event

Costa Georgiadis Visit

Financial Inclusion in Social Housing Project

Harmony Days

DHHS Victoria In Bloom Competition

International Women’s Day

Somerset Arts Festival

Your Future Scholarships


Streets Ahead Incentive Program

Responding to Homelessness

Social Impact Bonds

Ministerial Visit in Adelaide

Costa In Our Coop

Our People - Annual Report 2016-17 21.


Resident End of Year Event Resident representatives and staff members met monthly to design and develop this much-loved signature end-of-year event. Held at Scots Church Hall in the Melbourne CBD, more than 180 residents plus staff and helpers celebrated another successful year of working together. The smiling faces said it all as everyone enjoyed a roast lunch, delicious dessert and shared stories with old and new friends. There was a fantastic performance by the With One Voice choir, as well as the traditional visit from Santa. The children enjoyed the face- painting activities and the adults joined them for photos in the special photo booth on site. Our Housing Choices Good Neighbour Award winner for 2016 was Damon from Seddon, who was nominated for his extraordinary efforts to support a neighbour experiencing severe difficulties from depression. Damon visited regularly and was an amazing listener during this difficult time. Ten runner-up prizes were also announced on the day.

Our very own High Street Garden Group won the Common Area Garden category for the North Division and went into the running for the state competition. Ruby, one of our young residents from a transitional property, received a Special Commendation in the Young Gardener category. Ruby and her partner Cameron are currently doing a wonderful job growing fruit and vegetables in her back courtyard and will soon have new planters installed after Ruby’s successful application to the Housing Choices Residents Community Fund. Also in February, the Western Region winners were announced at the Ballarat Botanical Gardens. Our resident, John, took out first place for Best Balcony Garden and another of our residents, Laurel, was runner up. Both are participants in the St John’s Community Garden Group in North Melbourne. In the North West region, the High St Garden Group won best Common Area Garden and a resident from a Housing Choices Transitional Housing Management (THM) property in Northcote won the Best Young Gardener category with a number of Housing Choices residents receiving participation awards.

Financial Inclusion in Social Housing Project

Housing Choices was successful in achieving a $90,000 grant from the Ian Potter Foundation to create and implement a financial inclusion program for its residents. Housing Choices established a partnership with Good Shepherd Microfinance and the delivery of this brilliant initiative will begin in July 2017. DHHS Victoria In Bloom Competition A number of Housing Choices residents took part in the DHHS Victoria’s In Bloom Competition this year. The competition recognises the contributions and hard work of the many gardeners and garden lovers who live in public and community housing. Housing Choices hosted the award ceremony for the North Division on a warm summer’s day in February, on the amazing terrace at High St, Preston. Division winners were announced by Ian Adoyte, Manager of Community Participation at DHHS- North Metropolitan Region.

Our People - Annual Report 2016-17


Tasmania Housing Choices is deeply engaged with residents through its advisory committees and its range of wonderful events that bring residents, staff and community together. This is a vital part of our commitment to strengthening the neighbourhoods in which our residents live.

Your Future Scholarships Your Future Scholarships are part of Housing Choices’ Community Fund Grants Program in Tasmania, which supports educational opportunities for residents and their children. The scholarships have been operating for two years and are open to residents’ children who will be completing Year 11 and Year 12 studies. The program was originally dedicated to the BHF suburbs in the North West region but has been expanded to include all Housing Choices residents. In February, a panel assesses the applications against the selection criteria. Scholarships can cover a variety of expenses, including: • Out-of-pocket expenses for educational materials, books and information technology items that are associated with using school technology • Tutoring costs either for tutors provided by the school or by private business • Costs of excursions within Australia or overseas that will benefit the student’s learning and career aspirations • Tools and equipment that are needed to complete the student’s field of studies, and • Costs related to an opportunity to attend extra learning activities, such as a conference. We have been thrilled to provide support to students who, due to difficult circumstances, may otherwise have had to curtail their education. One of our recent recipients is Oneck Francis, who received a laptop computer to allow him to fully participate in his Police Studies at the University of Tasmania. Oneck has aspirations to become a forensic detective and was attempting to do his on-line study using his phone.

Costa Georgiadis Visit The East Devonport community was excited to welcome Costa Georgiardis, host of ABC TV’s Gardening Australia , when he visited the Community Vegetable Gardens and Food Sustainability Projects, which are supported by Housing Choices. The Garden Project is located at the East Devonport Primary School and the Food Sustainability Project is at the East Devonport Community House. Both projects were the result of much hard work by a group of dedicated volunteers, who received financial assistance in the form of two $10,000 Housing Choices grants from our Resident Community Fund. Residents, volunteers, school children and staff from all the organisations involved were delighted to have the opportunity to gain gardening tips from Costa and show him their work. Over morning tea they talked informally about their gardening passion and experience, which was really inspiring for everyone involved. The new garden, called We Grow Well Together Community Garden , was officially opened in early 2017. Harmony Days Housing Choices played an integral role in two Harmony Day events in March. One event was held at the Queens Walk unit complex in New Town, Hobart, and the other at the Burnie Child and Family Centre in Acton in the state’s north-west. The Acton Harmony Day event was hosted by the Mariposa Filipino Cultural Dance Group and sponsored by Housing Choices, through its Community Fund Grants Program . The event was a great success with a feast of Filipino food (17 main courses and 9 desserts), colourful Filipino costumes and great music and dancing. Around 200 people attended and enjoyed the festivities.

International Women’s Day In Tasmania’s north-west, Housing Choices residents Dorothy, Diana, Yvonne and Tracey took the lead in organising a health and wellbeing event in Latrobe to celebrate International Women’s Day. The event was a huge success with more than 150 people attending. Housing Choices and the Latrobe Council supported an array of exhibits, including health and wellbeing stalls, inspirational cooking demonstrations and craft activities. We had wonderful support from EACH, East Devonport Community House, East Devonport Child and Family Centre, The Smith Family, LINC, Anglicare, Carers Tasmania, Advocacy Tasmania and Volunteering Australia. This event will become an annual activity in the community calendar and the wonderful proactive residents in Latrobe are already planning for next year. Somerset Arts Festival Housing Choices was pleased to provide financial support to the Somerset Arts Festival in February, enabling the event to be free entry for the community, with activities for everyone to enjoy. We were also excited to sponsor two of the festival’s art prizes and hope that in doing so we have contributed to the development of some budding artists. The event was attended by a number of VIP guests including: • The Hon. Joan Rylah, State Member of Parliament for Braddon • Mary Duniam, Deputy Mayor of Waratah/Wynyard Council • Ken Dorsey, Alderman, Burnie City Council • The Somerset Arts Festival Committee, and • Mr Hiller, Art Judge.

Our People - Annual Report 2016-17 23.

Streets Ahead Incentive Program Since Housing Choices Tasmania began its operations in the state’s north-west in 2014, nine people who were eligible for assistance with affordable home ownership have been successful in buying a home that was previously managed by Housing Choices at an affordable price. In addition, the Streets Ahead Incentive Program (SAIP) is specifically for residents who are currently renting a property that is owned by Housing Tasmania and managed by Housing Choices. Eligible residents can receive up to $13,000 through the program, which can be used towards the house deposit, legal fees and mortgage insurance. After hearing about SAIP, long-term Latrobe residents Fiona and Danny were able to purchase their family home of eight years.

Our dream of owning our own home has come true. We are so happy to call it ours and a great big thank you to Vickie and Housing Choices for helping it happen. Thank you.


Our People - Annual Report 2016-17


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