Housing Choices Australia Group - Annual Report 2020

Housing Choices Australia Group (Housing Choices) is an independent, national, not-for-profit housing provider that delivers high quality, accessible and affordable housing for people who struggle to find a suitable home in Australia’s challenging private rental market. 



Housing Choices Australia is a member organisation of the Community Housing Industry Association and PowerHousing Australia.

We acknowledge the financial and other support of:

The Australian Federal Government The Victorian State Government The South Australian State Government The Western Australian State Government The Tasmanian State Government The New South Wales State Government

1.5 In the spirit of reconciliation, the Housing Choices Australia Group acknowledges Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples as the traditional owners of this country and their connection to land, water and community. We pay our respects to them, their culture and customs, and to elders past, present and emerging.






































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Housing Choices Australia | Annual Report 2019-20

Housing Choices Australia Group (HCA) is an independent, national, not-for-profit housing provider that delivers high quality, accessible and aordable housing for people who struggle to find a suitable home in Australia’s challenging private rental market. We manage over 4,500 properties, and spent over $21 million on repairs and upgrades in the last financial year. We work with residents, government agencies, support service partners and community organisations to deliver good housing particularly suitable for people living on low incomes, and those living with a disability. We also work to create resilient, inclusive neighbourhoods across all our properties, providing residents with access to support services that will improve their health and wellbeing, and to opportunities that will improve their life circumstances. We are active members of all the leading peak and industry bodies in our sector, including the Community Housing Industry Association, PowerHousing Australia and the Australasian Housing Institute.

Responding eectively to the real and often changing needs of the residents who live in our homes and the families who populate our communities is the key to our success. So, the relationships they establish with us with, and with each other, are vital to our service delivery. Our annual Resident Satisfaction and regular Partners’ Surveys, provide critical feedback about what we are doing well and where we can improve, enabling us to adjust our services and build long-term working relationships with our residents, so we can continue to provide them with the stable accommodation they need, to live their best lives. We constantly strive for innovative housing solutions for our residents, based on real evidence, ensuring our service delivery is documented and evaluated so we can adapt our business to changing needs over time.


Housing Choices Australia | Annual Report 2019-20


The pandemic has shown us the crucial importance of basic public services – including social housing. The community housing sector is positioned to assume a deeper relevance in Australia and economic restructuring will see the sector as a focus for stimulus and employment. But it will be new – in sheer scale, in funding and financing and in the quality of our initiatives, it will present opportunity of a rare kind. Housing Choices Australia is well positioned to respond to this environment. The Board of Directors reviewed its strategic direction to ensure the organisation has the capacity and capability to respond, innovate, deliver and govern in such a rapidly changing and challenging environment. Despite the challenges, Housing Choices has continued to deliver, and our positive impact is highlighted in this year’s annual report achievements. As always, there is considerable change to manage. Of particular note is the stepping down of Arthur Papakotsias after five years as Chair and of Director Saul Eslake. As a CEO who built a national not-for-profit himself, Arthur was ideally positioned to guide Housing Choices through its formative years. I thank them both for their significant contributions and warmly welcome Prof. Chris Leishman and Drew Beswick to the Board.

To our various strategic partners – state governments, developers, service providers, financiers and many others – I oer my sincere thanks. Housing Choices is a partnership-based organisation, which depends upon joint working arrangements of many kinds. In the next two to three years, we expect new and long-term strategic alliances and partnerships to emerge. Our residents are also engaged at all levels of the organisation. During the year, a highlight for me was ‘The Theory of Change’, focusing in detail on the nature and quality of services delivered to residents. Housing Choices’ achievements are measured in multiple ways and how our residents view us is especially critical. Our workforce continues to adapt and diversify, despite the challenges that were presented in the second half of this financial year due to the pandemic. My thanks to all for the commitment, energy, and skill demonstrated throughout the organisation and for the innovative way that sta engaged to support residents and each other through these challenging times. I am immensely proud of our sta and of our organisation. The past year has transitioned us to a new phase for Housing Choices. I am optimistic about our organisation’s ability to contribute to Australia’s social and economic recovery through the delivery of more, much needed, social and aordable housing.


Housing Choices Australia | Annual Report 2019-20


As the Housing Choices Australia Group continues to evolve, we welcome experienced Director and former Deputy Chair, Heather McCallum to the Chair, and Fabienne Michaux as the new Deputy Chair. We will also be welcoming new Western Australia Directors David Lantzke and Matt Raison in the coming year as WA Member Company representatives. We also pay tribute to outgoing Chair, Arthur Papakotsias and Director, Saul Eslake and thank them for their tremendous contribution and support during their tenure. This year the world has been overshadowed by the risk posed by the COVID-19 epidemic. Within a matter of days after the Australian outbreak, the organisation moved into rapid response with project structures set in place to manage the associated risks for residents and for sta. Julie Duncan, General Manager of Housing Services (South Australia), was appointed COVID-19 Controller and a COVID Response support team was organised around her. The executive team met on a weekly basis to manage the risk, and sophisticated levels of co-operation across Housing Choices were quickly established to assess and mitigate risk. In the period following, we maintained regular contact with our residents, especially in Victoria where considerable attention was given to the welfare and wellbeing of residents and sta. The response of the organisation to this was outstanding and demonstrates both the values and the capability of Housing Choices. Near the end of the financial year, the final steps in the merger between Access Housing Australia in Western Australia and Housing Choices were taken, final approvals were agreed upon and an implementation date of 1 July 2020 was set.

This now takes the Housing Choices Australia Group into five States and more importantly, the combined capability of the two entities strengthens the ability of the merged organisation to provide more and better services to expand its response to housing needs. Notwithstanding limitations on funding, our development pipeline continued to increase the supply of accommodation. Spence on Light in the Adelaide Central Business District exemplifies our capability to provide outstanding, quality accommodation, work with partners in government and the private sector and establish partnerships with service providers. This time with the ACH Group providing aged care services to the site. The development is outstanding by any measure and illustrates the progressive building and quality standards in our property developments. Another highlight for the year was that in every state that Housing Choices operates, all regulatory standards were met and there were no issues reported by regulators in any of the jurisdictions. This is a testament to the professionalism of our sta throughout the organisation. As we proceed into the next phase of organisational development, a range of new structures, processes and capabilities are progressively and carefully being introduced into the organisation. This is deliberately positioning us for what we see as a new phase of opportunity. To our residents and sta, I would also like to acknowledge the positive results recorded in the resident and sta surveys throughout the year. We do not take these for granted and look forward to working with everyone in the year ahead.


Housing Choices Australia | Annual Report 2019-20





He was the inaugural Chief Executive Ocer of Housing Choices Australia when it was founded in 2008 to 2012 and since 2014, he returned as Managing Director. Under his stewardship Housing Choices has grown to be one the largest housing associations in Australia. In the mid-2000s he led the establishment of the Glasgow Housing Association through the transfer of the largest volume of public housing stock in Europe. He served as Chief Executive Ocer of the Housing New Zealand Corporation. As Chair and Executive Director of the Australian Housing and Urban Research Institute (AHURI) he led its restructuring, leading to its status as the pre-eminent research resource for the housing industry in Australia. He has also led a significant government department in South Australia. He was Chair of national peak body, the Community Housing Industry Association (CHIA), from 2016 to 2019, during which

Fabienne holds board, research and consulting roles across a number of sectors, with a focus on creating social impact and system change. Currently Fab is working with the United Nations Development Programme to develop Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) impact practice standards for enterprises and investors and co-chairing the Australian Sustainable Finance Initiative’s Technical Working Group 3 on making better informed decisions. She is also a non-executive director of The Song Room and Impact Investing Australia and a Professor of Practice (Finance) at Deakin Business School. Fab’s experience also includes 22 years at S&P Global, one of the largest data, information and analytics companies in the world, where she held senior positions including her last role as Australian Country Head and Head of Developed Markets Asia-Pacific in the Ratings Division. She holds a Bachelor of Business (Economics and Finance) with Distinction from the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology and is a graduate member of the Australian Institute of Company Directors.


Heather is a Chartered Accountant, experienced board director and senior executive with experience operating in complex environments across a diverse range of organisations and sectors. She joined the Board of Housing Choices Australia in 2014 and was Deputy Chair of the Board and Chair of the Audit, Finance and Risk Committee until her appointment as Board Chair in 2019. Heather is also currently a non-executive Director of the Derwent Sailing Squadron and TADTas, an organisation dedicated to improving the independence, dignity and quality of life for people living with disability. Heather has over 25 years’ experience spanning audit and corporate advisory (including with Ernst & Young’s banking and finance division), private enterprise, start-ups, and for-purpose organisations, having held both GM and CFO senior leadership positions. Reflecting a strong focus and commitment to social inclusion, Heather’s previous governance roles span youth, education and employment initiatives. Heather holds a Bachelor of Commerce (Honours) from Queen’s University School of Business and is a recipient of the Governor General’s Award (Canada). She is also a graduate member of the

time he led the development of its comprehensive National Plan for

Aordable Housing, delivered in 2018. He is currently Chair of the South Australian Planning Commission, reflecting his experience in urban planning and development. Michael has been an advisor to Australian governments at all levels and has been an advisor to the World Health Organisation (WHO). He is a leading advocate for reform across the housing and planning sectors in Australia, and an experienced board director and university governor. He is an adjunct Professor in the School of Humanities at the University of Adelaide.


Michael is a leading figure in the Australian social and aordable housing industry, with more than three decades experience in both private and public sectors, in Australia, New Zealand and the United Kingdom.

Australian Institute of Company Directors.


Housing Choices Australia | Annual Report 2019-20





  Drew is Chief Executive Ocer of Oak Possability Group, Tasmania’s largest provider of disability services. He previously served as Chief Operating Ocer of Possability during a period of significant transition for the disability services sector under the NDIS, including involvement in a successful merger and the expansion and development of the Group’s services into Victoria, where it has participated in the transfer of residential services from the Victorian Government. Drew is a qualified social worker with post-graduate qualifications in management and governance and has worked across a range of human service organisations in Australia and the United Kingdom, with extensive experience in providing, supervising and directing services and interventions. He led Early Intervention Services at Relationships Australia, with responsibility for clinical governance and supervision, and has held senior positions in health, social care and aged care policy and regulation. He was State Manager for the Federal Department of Health and Ageing during a period of significant health reform. Drew has held board positions with various community sector organisations and the Australian Institute of Public Administration, Tasmania. He is currently the public ocer of a Tasmanian organisation involved in the promotion of men’s health issues and has a strong interest in advocating for access to suitable housing for people living with disability.

   Meredith is Chair of the Fishermans Bend Development Board in Victoria. She has also been a non-executive director of a number of boards, including the boards of the Australian Housing and Urban Research Institute (AHURI) and of the Port of Melbourne. She lectures in the Masters program 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 State Government, including Deputy Secretary of the Department of Premier and Cabinet. From 2002-2006 she led the Oce of Commonwealth Games Coordination, for which she was awarded the Order of Australia in 2007.

Chris is an international housing economist and academic and is currently Director of the Centre for Housing, Urban and Regional Planning and the Hugo Centre for Migration and Population Research at the University of Adelaide. His research focuses on the economics of the housing market, including the relationship between housing supply and aordability, the behaviour of housing and land developers, and demographic / socio-economic processes such as household formation, housing consumption decisions and tenure choice. His work has helped inform government policy on housing supply and aordability in Australia and across the United Kingdom. Chris has undertaken studies for a variety of government departments and entities in several countries, third sector organisations including CRISIS and Centrepoint, and a range of academic funders including the Australian Housing and Urban Research Institute (AHURI) and the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) in the United Kingdom. He is an editor for the Urban Studies Journal and was previously Editor-In-Chief of the Housing Studies Journal.


Julie holds a Bachelor of Business Studies degree and 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 communication

strategy development, 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.


Housing Choices Australia | Annual Report 2019-20


The Housing Choices Board of Australia continues to demonstrate its commitment to and compliance with all governance requirements. The Board rigorously questions and challenges all proposed transactions to satisfy itself that these are in the best interest of Housing Choices and its residents. A significant achievement this year was the extensive governance review, which demonstrates the Board’s continued commitment to excellence. The findings will form the basis for the medium and long-term governance plans to further bolster and guide the organisation in our next exciting growth phase.

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Arthur served as a Director of Housing Choices Australia from 2011 and Chair from 2014. In addition, he was a director of Mental Health Australia from 2011 to 2018 and the Chair of its Finance, Audit and Risk Committee between 2014 and 2018.

Saul is a well-known international and Australian leader and commentator in economics.

In addition to a high profile commercial career, he has held previous board directorships on the Australian Housing and Urban Research Institute, 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.

 Peter Richardson was appointed as Company Secretary on 27 July 2020. Hayley Parkes resigned as Company Secretary on 26 July 2020.    The numbers of meetings of the Board of Directors and of each Board Committee held during the year ended 30 June 2020, and the numbers of meetings attended by each director were:

































Governance, Appointments and Remuneration Committee

Audit, Finance and Risk Committee


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Pictured: Board Chair, Heather McCallum and Deputy Premier of Tasmania, Jeremy Rockli

Housing Choices Australia | Annual Report 2019-20

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Housing Choices Australia | Annual Report 2019-20

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Pictured: Latoya Rule, Housing Choices South Australia Resident


Housing Choices Australia | Annual Report 2019-20

WARNING: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander readers are warned that the following story contains names of deceased persons.

Latoya has been a valued member of Housing Choices SA’s Common Ground Adelaide community since 2011. Aged just 27, their determination, intellect and extensive accomplishments are only surpassed by modesty and willingness for authentic connection with others. Latoya recently met with Mark, one of HCSA’s Community Development Ocers, at a local city café to explain their journey in becoming active in the fight for Aboriginal human rights, freedom and ending racial discrimination. Latoya’s family descend from Wiradjuri (NSW) and Maori (Aotearoa/New Zealand), and they were born and raised on Kaurna Country of the Adelaide Plains. Latoya spent most of their early childhood around the local church in Iparrityi (Whitmore Square). As a result of a relationship breakdown, Latoya started sleeping rough at aged 17, and less than two years later, moved into a Common Ground apartment in Adelaide’s CBD. “I mostly kept to myself,” explained Latoya, “but I was grateful for Common Ground as it was the first time I’d experienced stable housing since being a young child, as well as getting social support, and access to GP and Dental care, it was a holistic healing opportunity,” Latoya said. Latoya also described becoming involved in Catalyst-Clemente, a University Pathways program made possible through a partnership between Common Ground, Mission Australia and Flinders University. “The program was amazing; I hadn’t even completed Year 9 and here I was enrolled at Flinders University.” Nine years later, Latoya has graduated with an Honours Degree in Social Work and Social Planning, with a first-class grade and a university medal. They were also selected to be a participant in a US study tour for high achieving students that took Latoya to places like New York and Harvard University in Boston. 

Latoya is now employed as a casual academic tutor and occasional lecturer across two universities, and in 2021 they will be commencing their PhD. Latoya described meeting Kaurna and Narungga Elder, Tauto Sansbury in 2013 as a turning point in their life, and the moment that inspired them to begin their advocacy work. “I was introduced to Tauto by a community member and became involved in the wider national campaign for treaty,” said Latoya. Since then, under the guidance of Aboriginal Elders, Latoya has organised numerous Aboriginal Rights actions including Invasion Days, establishing the SA branch of Warriors of the Aboriginal Resistance, and has been at the forefront of the struggle against alleged state-sanctioned brutality that was responsible for the death of their brother. Sadly, in late 2019, Tauto passed away. Tauto’s legacy, along with Latoya’s brother’s, will endure forever across this continent. Latoya’s passion and drive for justice has been informed by both their lived experiences, and the experiences of their family and community. Their drive also stems from hearing the stories and realities of those they’ve been privileged to cross paths with during their journey so far. It is Latoya’s hope that wider society will come to realise and act upon its potential to cede power to those who are powerless; for individuals to reflect upon their own privileges that in turn deny rights to others, for Australians to educate themselves about the issues of sovereignty and decolonisation, and for all peoples collectively to find a basis upon which we can begin building relationships that have not yet been grounded. Latoya’s vision for the future is not about reconciliation, it is for radical transformation and daring to dream that little bit bigger to create something completely new.


Housing Choices Australia | Annual Report 2019-20



Last year we started our journey to transform the resident experience, asking our residents and ourselves to re-imagine the ideal social housing landlord. We engaged with Wendy Brooks Consulting to assist us to clarify the vision. Using a theory of change methodology, we set our big picture goal and then worked back to identify all the conditions and outcomes that need to be in place and how they interrelate to each other, to achieve that end goal. So, what is our end goal? It was quite simple, we took our Mission and simply inserted the word ‘resident,’ right in the heart of it:                      Using a theory of change (see far right) has provided us with methodology to create a Resident Outcomes Framework. This Framework provides us with a steadfast anchor used to align business activities, not just in housing services, but right across the organisation to assist us on our journey to transform the resident experience. We know that by following our outcomes framework we will raise our residents’ aspirations about a social landlord. By doing this, we will inspire our residents to challenge us. I know that when we inspire our residents to challenge us, we will raise our aspirations for Housing Choices. It was a delight during our Business Roadshow to share this with our colleagues across the business. I am looking forward to working and seeing initiatives right across every department that are aligned to the Resident Outcomes Framework. Throughout this report, you will start to see stories of those initiatives.

Whilst COVID-19 put some of our best laid plans to sleep, it did not dampen our ambition to quickly pivot our focus and implement initiatives that aligned to where our residents needed us to focus the most – a resident centred culture. Prior to any legislative requirements, in early March this year, we and the world frantically responded to the impact of COVID-19. Housing Choices made three impact statements that were immediately adopted by our Board. This provided the authorising environment for our sta to get creative to how we would deliver services with the social restrictions forced on all of us as a result of the Coronavirus;

No resident would lose their home due to being unable to pay their rent as a result of COVID-19

Residents and their wellbeing will be supported through a modified service delivery response

The risk of infection in our buildings is minimised due to the activation of increased infection control measures

The amazing responses from the housing service teams across the jurisdictions we work in, has shown me when asked to be creative, creative our sta are! I am so proud of each and every front line sta team who rose to the challenge of ensuring residents received a friendly daily check in call, food parcels, information on COVID-19, online activities, and hardship grants to help with increased costs of home schooling or utility bills. These are just some of the initiatives implemented, all whilst many were working and juggling their own family needs at the same time. So, to each and every sta member across our housing services operations, I am so honoured to be part of your team, thank you so much.

You absolutely showed every day of every week, just what a resident-centred culture is.


Housing Choices Australia | Annual Report 2019-20


Residents feel confident with Housing Choices as a landlord because the rights and responsibilities of both parties are clear, and information and processes are transparent

Housing Choices is committed to resident involvement in design, delivery, monitoring and review of services

Housing Choices has a positive resident-centered culture, based on values of inclusion, equity, respect and dignity

Housing Choices delivers services that have the most impact and value to our residents

Housing Choices invests to ensure residents have the capacity, capability and opportunity to participate

Residents influence how Housing Choices delivers services


Housing Choices is a leading provider of aordable homes working with partners and residents to create resilient and inclusive neighbourhoods


Pictured: Clinton, Housing Choices Victorian Resident

Housing Choices Australia | Annual Report 2019-20



Welcome to a spotlight on the Tasmanian achievements and milestones made possible by our residents, sta, partners and stakeholders. During this period Tasmania continued to feel the impacts of an extremely tight housing market resulting in ever increasing demand for good quality, stable and aordable housing across all regions. We were extremely pleased to be able to complete the construction of a number of new dwellings during the year. Dwellings that individuals and families have now made their homes. Importantly, supported by our ongoing advocacy for an increase in long term housing supply, the release of further state and federal government grant funding rounds helped us put together a significant pipeline of construction activity into the future. This will see us deliver an additional 172 much needed homes over the next 6 – 18 months, for those Tasmanians who are excluded from the private housing market, and will increase our portfolio to 338 dwellings. The State Government also announced its intention to provide stimulus funding for additional social housing in response to the economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. Housing Choices Tasmania (HCT) will be at the forefront of ensuring a meaningful contribution to this important supply initiative. The Tasmanian team now manage over 1,550 homes across the state, comprising a significant portfolio of properties managed on behalf of Housing Tasmania, a portfolio of HCT-owned homes and a small number of head-leased properties to support people escaping from family violence. Housing Choices Tasmania is committed to continuing its work in delivering a tailored housing product for this vulnerable cohort of people and ensuring that they are supported to access a long-term, sustainable tenancy. Whilst building more homes to enable more people to live in aordable, contemporary and secure housing is always a highlight, the things we do to support our residents to live in resilient and inclusive neighbourhoods that support life opportunities is also critical. We continue to invest in making sure that we do this and do it well and each of our partnerships helps us to achieve this goal.

Of utmost importance in ensuring that we are delivering the services that truly benefit our residents; we make sure that we ask them to provide feedback. This is done via our regular contact, but at a strategic level we also survey our residents annually via an external, independent process. In the north-west our residents continue to embrace our localised service approach and the community engagement we practice. Despite the impacts of COVID-19, we were able to deliver some great programs. Our southern-based residents participated regularly in localised capacity-building activities, from group learning through to community gardening. It is this work, in combination with quality tenancy and property management, which assists in the long-term renewal and sustainability of communities. Achievements in this area over the 2019–20 year included:

Committed $110,000 to community development activities through the Resident Community Fund Grants Program that helped fund several resident and stakeholder initiated projects and programs; Sponsorship of several community initiated events including International Women’s Day, Neighbour Day Community Meal and the Doors to Mentors Program; and

13 x $1000 Scholarships awarded to HCT residents to further their educational aspirations.


Pictured (R): Kim Bomford, General Manager of Housing Services (TAS) speaking at the Fairlie St, Latrobe launch.

Housing Choices Australia | Annual Report 2019-20

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Our operational highlights of the past year could only take place through the hard work of our sta in Tasmania. These included:

As I wrap up, it would be remiss of me not to take a moment to reflect on how deeply COVID-19 impacted our residents, contractors and sta. Our already vulnerable resident base became further isolated, our locally based and committed contractors lost work and our sta had to rapidly adapt to working in new and restrictive ways. To the credit of all and with the support of our wonderful HCA COVID Response Team, we were able to rise to the challenge. We looked at new ways to connect with residents, limited the “down-time” for our contractors and our sta demonstrated dedication, flexibility and co-operation. With this backdrop, we have come through relatively unscathed and now, as I write this piece, we are recommencing our full range of operations in a new COVID-safe way. I am proud to have been a part of such a positive outcome during dicult times and want to thank every person and organisation that has an involvement with HCT for their commitment, resilience and co-operation. We can’t do what we do without you.

100% success in approval of NRAS incentives;

Delivery of $4.6 million in maintenance works;

Delivery of our remaining heating upgrades;

Achieving an occupancy rate of 99%;

Reducing turnaround times on vacated properties to four (4) days;

Increasing the number of tenancies maintained to 91%; and

Exceeding all performance measures for turnaround times on repairs.


Housing Choices Australia | Annual Report 2019-20



This year turned out nothing like we had planned – or did it?

In May we introduced a new contractor panel for ROSAS maintenance services, replacing the initial single head contractor arrangement. The changeover went smoothly, and our expanded panel of contractors are working well with the Housing Choices team to deliver maintenance services professionally, cost eectively and on time. Our 30 June impact assessment report highlighted that results remain strong in our flagship homelessness response, Common Ground Adelaide. Over the year:

While the second half of the 2019-20 year was dominated by the impact and restrictions brought about by the outbreak of COVID-19, Housing Choices South Australia still managed to deliver our major project for the year – Spence on Light. 75 apartments delivered on budget and on time. Thanks to the flexibility and safe work practices of our construction partner Hindmarsh, we were able to meet our commitment to deliver new aordable homes in the heart of the Adelaide CBD by the end of the 19/20 financial year. You can read more on Spence on Light a bit later in the Annual Report. Reflecting across the full year, there were also plenty of other achievements and highlights. 2019/20 got the year o to a fun start for Housing Choices residents with our second annual Residents’ Day in July. The theme being - health and wellbeing. Over 50 residents met and mingled with each other, sta and our partners on the day - Heart Foundation Australia, Dementia SA, Tackling Tobacco Team - Nunkuwarrin Yunti, ACH Group, and Campbelltown City Council. Following the fabulous results and feedback from our 2018-19 Resident Satisfaction Survey, we embraced the opportunity to launch some new ways to share information and keep in touch with residents, including our increasingly popular coee catch ups. We also established the Housing Choices SA Resident Advisory Committee. While COVID restrictions delayed our first face to face meetings, regular meetings are now underway. One of the first tasks of the group being to provide input to Housing Choices’ new complaints management system. Throughout the year we participated in and met the contracted performance and audit requirements of our contracts with the South Australian Government; Renewing our Streets and Suburbs and Common Ground Adelaide. Importantly, in April, we received our annual Tier 1 National Regulatory System for Community Housing assessment, with no recommendations for improvement.

102 residents engaged with support services

95% of clients remained in secure housing at exit from Common Ground support

18 households have moved from Common Ground into Housing Choices housing, supporting a strong pathway from homelessness to independent permanent housing

Over the year a range of health services continued to be delivered from our Light Square service hub in partnership with the University of Adelaide School of Dentistry, General Practitioner Dr Simon Vanlint, and Psychologist Andrew Thompson from Links to Wellbeing.

Each service continues to attract strong resident participation with:




Dental Service Visits

Psychology Visits

GP Service Visits


Housing Choices Australia | Annual Report 2019-20

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In Port Augusta the Common Ground Program is delivered in partnership with the Salvation Army. The program provides long term stable, safe, secure, and aordable homes for residents. The program housed 15 new residents, representing 43% of all tenancies in the last financial year. Common Ground Port Augusta continues to provide culturally inclusive services for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander residents, who make up more than 80% of the resident profile. Work will shortly commence on the construction of the Port Augusta Renewable Energy Park and Common Ground will work with facility operators to identify suitable local training and employment opportunities for residents.

As a result of the pandemic, a number of residents were also able to benefit from the improved cleaning regimes introduced in response to Coronavirus, with a number securing employment in the cleaning industry. So, while things didn’t turn out quite the way we had planned, there is still so much to celebrate in what has been achieved over the year. Our residents and our sta have shown just how creative, resilient, flexible, and adaptable people can be especially when things don’t go to plan.


Pictured (Above):

Housing Choices SA’s Common Ground property in Port August, SA

Pictured (R):

A Housing Choices resident receiving dental treatment at our Light Square Service Hub

Housing Choices Australia | Annual Report 2019-20



The past year has seen some changes at our Housing Services Victorian operations, we farewelled General Manager of Housing Services, Ellie Francis-Brophy, and I commenced my role as the new General Manager, Housing Services (VIC) in May 2020. The Housing Services team, along with all sta members in the organisation and our residents, experienced unanticipated and significant changes due to the COVID-19 pandemic. March 2020 saw Housing Choices sta leave the oce and adapt to working from home. Whilst it was a great upheaval, it was inspiring to see everyone working together so we could continue to deliver property and tenancy services to our residents. I would like to especially thank our residents for working with us, keeping us informed and keeping themselves and everyone safe at our properties. As the pandemic surged through the country, and had particularly devastating impacts for Victorians, the Housing Services team ensured that any resident who lost their income due to COVID-19 received a review of their rental amount and also financial assistance through either our Hardship Policy, our HELP or Resident Assistance Fund (RAF) programs. This financial year, we supported 95 residents with financial assistance from these programs Whether it was assistance with the costs of food, increased costs of utilities, or home schooling, these items all add up to a significant proportion of income for our residents. With regards to our new developments, it was an exciting year for the team as we grew our portfolio to increase safe, secure and aordable housing to those who need it. Towards the end of 2019, the team were delighted to be handing keys over to our newest residents in Dandenong, Newport and Wantirna. Over the year we allocated over 250 vacancies across our portfolio - being able to provide the keys to secure and aordable housing is really rewarding. What makes this experience even better, is visiting new residents throughout the year and hearing stories of the positive impact their new home has made for them. This reminds us all about the importance of having a place to call home. While the year made it dicult for our community development programs to be face to face with residents, our Community Development Ocers quickly pivoted to providing calls to residents to check in on their welfare throughout the lockdown.

By June we adapted our programs with residents to activities that could be conducted remotely, including food deliveries to our most vulnerable residents. We also designed a new Pay the Gap Program, which aims to support residents on low incomes with the high cost of childcare in school holidays. The pilot program is being rolled out for residents living in the City of Melbourne and Darebin areas and will provide up to $400 per household direct to a holiday program. You can read more about the various community events from this past year a bit later in the report. This year we worked in partnership with the Department of Health and Human Services to create a central platform for people seeking social housing, called the Victorian Housing Register (VHR). A project plan was developed with working groups overseeing operations, compliance, communication, and training. The transition means that there is now a common waitlist for Victorians applying for Social and Public Housing. We continued our journey towards operational excellence, and we embarked on a project to review our operations to strive towards consistently, high-achieving ways of working. Working collaboratively with all team members, we mapped processes, identifying pain points in both work execution and work-flow management. From this, we have built the foundation for the ‘Future Way of Working’ and enabled setting robust internal standards for quality and service. At the conclusion of the project in late 2019, we saw an immediate improvement in rent arrears – achieving our lowest figure in two years, along with our rent reviews and allocation processes becoming consistent and more ecient. The Victorian Resident Advisory Committee (VRAC) played a key role in reviewing our performance, providing feedback and assisting with policy development. Despite the challenges we were faced with, I am immensely proud of the operations team for responding with great care, patience, and collaborative work practices. I look forward to seeing what other wonderful achievements are to come in the next financial year.


Housing Choices Australia | Annual Report 2019-20

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Pictured: Housing Choices resident at the Melbourne Town Hall 2019 Christmas Party

Housing Choices Australia | Annual Report 2019-20


Before Carly moved into her home in Newport, she had been rejected by hundreds of property inspections and applications. All her belongings were in storage and she was sleeping on a friend’s couch while her son Huxley was staying with his dad. “I was then connected with someone at St Vincent Care. And he told me ‘tough times don’t last, Carly, but tough people do,’” reminisces Carly. Carly jokes that perhaps this phrase needs to be printed and hung up on her wall. As Carly often thinks back to this when needing motivation in times of hardship. It’s now been three years since Carly and Huxley moved into their Newport home. Carly was the first resident to move into the newly built property, and she still remembers the smell of fresh paint when her Housing Ocer, Angelica brought Carly there for the first time. “When looking for properties, I didn’t even consider Newport because the median house price here is crazy. It wasn’t an area I considered feasible for me to look at. When I walked through the door, I cried. Hands to my mouth and I cried. It’s still quite an emotional moment when I look back at it,” says Carly. Although only 27, Carly has achieved a great deal through her perseverance and determination. Carly was 20 when she was pregnant with Huxley and received additional support through the Young Mums Program at the Royal Women’s Hospital.


Housing Choices Australia | Annual Report 2019-20

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“It’s really grounded me. I feel a lot of more connected to a community and I haven’t really had that before,” she says.

She was connected to a doula in the community, who oered to support Carly through her pregnancy free of charge – usually there are out of pocket costs. As Carly and her doula’s connection strengthened through the months of her pregnancy, her doula became inspired by Carly’s story and wanted to help more young mothers in need. Carly’s doula went on to cofound Birth for Humankind. A not-for-profit organisation designed to support hundreds of women like Carly, who face additional barriers and challenges during their pregnancy. When Huxley was two years old, Birth for Humankind invited Carly to join their Board of Directors. Carly was one of the youngest female Board Directors in Australia during her time on the Board. Her passion and interest for the not for profit sector stems from her work with Birth for Humankind, and once Carly completes her studies (Communications at Deakin University) she hopes to find work in the sector. “I’ve had a very transient life. I haven’t spent more than four years in one place since I was four years old. I grew up moving from house to house with a single mum who was raising three kids on her own – me being one of them – and the challenges that go with that,” says Carly.

Carly loves the additional support available, and that makes Housing Choices dierent to the private rental market. The strong relationship between neighbours is something she is also very grateful for. “The first night I moved in my neighbours next door invited me to dinner. We take each other’s bins out, stop and say hello and ask how the kids are going. It’s just really lovely,” says Carly. “There’s that sense of stability and structure…it goes back to community connection and knowing there are people in place that will support you,” she continues.

This makes her all the happier and more appreciative for the community that surrounds her and her home now.

Pictured: Carly’s son, Huxley


Housing Choices Australia | Annual Report 2019-20

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