Housing Choices Australia Group - Annual Report 2020

We were pleased to deliver asset management and maintenance services for a national portfolio of 4,508 dwellings over the year, across our four operating regions. Utilising our new Project Management Oce (PMO) framework, the Project Development and Maintenance team (PDAM) established the processes needed to ensure the smooth integration of the 3,000 properties associated with our 1 July 2020 merger with Access Housing in Western Australia. In Victoria we completed delivery of 39 new apartments and townhouses, 25% suitable for people requiring Specialist Disability Accommodation (SDA). A major highlight for our Victorian team was the day four of our disability residents moved into their new homes in Box Hill. The Neville Street double-townhouse project was purpose-built for these residents, with significant input from their families incorporated into the design. For some residents, it is the first time they have been able to live independently; an incredible achievement for them and their families, and for our team who put their hearts and souls into this outcome. Our stunning, 19-apartment, social housing development at Hemmings Street, Dandenong, with the construction cost of $6.4 million, was built with the support of the Victorian Property Fund (VPF) and was shortlisted for a 2020 Victorian Architecture Award and received a commendation. Accepting the award, project architect Patrick Kennedy spoke for all of us when he said; ‘we have achieved something new in this sector.’ Construction commenced on multiple projects including: St Albans (7), Queen Victoria Market (49), Williamstown North (6) and three exciting partnership projects; Nightingale Anstey (11) and Nightingale Village (21) in Brunswick and Nightingale Ballarat (6). Housing Choices successfully secured funding from the Victorian Government’s Social Housing Growth Fund towards the delivery of over 190 dwellings. In South Australia, all eyes were on our flagship development Spence on Light, where we delivered 75 new dwellings. Within a month of completion, 52 residents were safely transitioned, all achieved under restrictions imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic response. Commitments were confirmed for 34 new homes in Bowden, 14 in Felistow and 6 in CBD Adelaide, to commence in 2021. A really busy year in Tasmania saw us deliver around $1.365 million of new dwellings in the North and North West of the State, and we have commenced construction on multiple projects for 2021 with the proposed delivery of 165 dwellings costing approx. $40 million, including an 18-dwelling project in Somerset, 32 new homes in Clark on the edge of Hobart, and 24 homes in East Devonport. The remaining 91 dwellings located in various LGAs in the North West and the South.        

It was pleasing to see how well our asset management services and contractor management systems performed as they swiftly moved to a largely online capability, in response to COVID-19 pandemic restrictions. The important exception was the delivery of emergency maintenance services, which continued throughout, for the safety and comfort of our residents, and with all the necessary COVID-safe guidelines and best practices adopted to protect the health and welfare of both residents and contractors. Most of our pipeline construction projects were able to proceed uninterrupted, despite some restrictions put in place for periods of time, in some regions. Our PDAM and contractor teams were remarkable in their ability to overcome so many unforeseen challenges. Working in a COVID-normal environment is now ‘what we do’. Significant progress was made with our Environmental Initiatives Strategy (EIS). Our aim is not only to build homes that are sustainable, but for our organisation to operate sustainably across all our operations and move to carbon neutrality. A National Sustainability Committee was established to drive organisation-wide change, support implementation, and ensure knowledge sharing. We have identified emissions across our portfolio and calculated the investment required to reduce them. This strategy contemplates large initiatives like improving the energy performance of housing across the portfolio, solar installations, and smaller initiatives such as Housing Choices’ Travel Policy, oce eciencies, better leakage testing, tree planting and more. From development and asset management perspectives, our commitment to broad and measurable EIS outcomes, particularly measures that will reduce living costs for our residents, builds on Housing Choices’ existing commitment to Silver Livable Housing Australia (LHA) guidelines as a minimum, and the Nationwide House Energy Ratings Scheme (NatHERS) star rating system. Led by our indefatigable Assets Coordinator, Ravi Koneru, the impact of our social housing solar upgrade program, such as the installation at our Mason Street, Altona property, has inspired us all. Our EIS plans are ambitious and are matched by the team’s enthusiasm and ability. The impact of COVID-19 and the need to think and work dierently, have caused us to reflect on how we will build and create living environments in the future. There will be significant changes in how we live, certainly in the immediate future and likely for the longer term. These will impact on design, density, and the use of communal, public, and outdoor spaces. Change brings challenges, but it also drives innovation. Our thinking has well and truly commenced.


Housing Choices Australia | Annual Report 2019-20

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