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April 2014

Welcome to the first edition of Housing Matters

Hello and welcome to the first online edition of Housing Matters, the Federation’s monthly newsletter. 

Housing Matters will keep you up to date with what’s happening around our industry, including emerging issues, policy and advocacy topics, what our members and partners are up to, and the Federation’s own training and resourcing activities.

Please forward Housing Matters to colleagues who would also be interested in hearing from us and encourage them to subscribe directly via the link.

Lucy Burgmann


Talking Points

Headline news and emerging issues

The Federation prepared a comprehensive submission to the NSW Legislative Council Inquiry into Social, Public and Affordable Housing.  We were called to give evidence before the Committee, where we highlighted the important role community housing is already playing across the breadth of the housing system, and advocated for significant growth funding so that we can do more.  We also prepared a submission to the Senate Inquiry into Affordable Housing.

NRAS (the National Rental Affordability Scheme) has been in the news recently, with suggestions that some private developers are using the program to provide student housing, rather than to deliver affordable properties for the low to moderate income earners the program was designed to assist.  In the face of this criticism, support for NRAS has come loudly and strongly from urban planners, the building and development industries as well as community housing providers and housing advocates.  The combined media release is available on the ACOSS website.

There are still more questions than answers when it comes to the housing impact of the National Disability Insurance Scheme.  Our national peak body, the Community Housing Federation of Australia (CHFA) hosted a major forum on 27 March in Canberra, bringing together disability and community housing experts to map the issues and opportunities for our industry.  You can log issues and review available resources on a special clearinghouse set up on CFHA's website.

Significant developments on homelessness, with the Commonwealth Government’s recent announcement of a one year extension to the National Partnership Against Homelessness.  Negotiations will now take place with State and Territory Governments to secure matching funding.  In NSW, the Going Home Staying Home reform team has announced that transition to the new service system will take place over an extended period through to 30 September 2014, rather than immediately on 1 July.  This should benefit community housing providers, specialist homelessness services, tenants and clients during a time of very significant change.  More information about management of leases for transitional tenants will be available shortly.

The Victorian Government last week released its long-awaited social housing directions statement, which includes consideration of a strategy for the transfer of up to 12,000 properties to community housing.  Meanwhile, here in NSW, we continue to wait for the release of the NSW Social Housing Policy.

The Welfare Rights Centre and Shelter NSW have released analysis showing that 173,000 renters in NSW remain in housing stress despite receiving Commonwealth Rent Assistance.  While rent assistance makes a difference, the report highlights the unaffordability of the housing market in Sydney and in NSW more generally.


Reviewing the Certificate IV and Diploma in Social Housing

Have Your Say

Public consultation is now underway on the key qualifications for the community housing industry.  The Certificate IV and Diploma in Social Housing are available for workers who are involved in delivering social housing services and support to tenants and residents. 

Since the early 1980s the vocational educational and training sector has given workers in the industry the opportunity to gain a qualification and develop skills relevant to their workplace.  Community housing providers, Aboriginal community housing providers and Housing NSW have recognised the value of skilling workers to deal with the day to day issues that challenge them in their work. 
The Federation has been delivering these qualifications for over 10 years, to staff in community, public and Aboriginal housing providers, and is a specialist training provider in this area.  To this end we are involved in the current review of both these qualifications and their suitability for workers in the housing field.  The review is being conducted by the Community Services and Health Industry Skills Council and is part of the full review of the Community Services Training Package.  The Federation is represented on the Subject Matter Expert Committee and the Industry Reference Group for the Skills Council.
However just having input from the Federation is only the first step.  The review of these qualifications requires input from housing staff, managers and Boards in the housing sector.  The Skills Council is seeking stakeholder feedback to ensure strong, current and appropriate qualifications are developed for the industry, and we encourage you to let them know what you think. 
Feedback closes COB Friday 9 May 2014
For further information and full details on the units included please visit the web page.
If you would like to discuss any of the above please contact Kevin Saide at the Federation on 02 92817144 ext 215
Kevin Saide


Innovation as a way of life

Sustainable housing the way forward for Pacific Link

Sustainable housing and improved services are top priorities, with Pacific Link Housing helping tenants stay in touch, gain new skills, take on work and move into full-time employment.  Those who are able are encouraged to return to private housing, freeing existing social housing properties for others in need.

Ninety-three per cent of tenants expressed their satisfaction with Pacific Link’s management and services last year, while professional recognition followed through a number of state and national awards.

The organisation has recently taken on an exciting new challenge: the renewal of a consolidated housing estate in North Gosford.  The estate wide renewal - to be managed and financed by Pacific Link - will include new lighting, CCTV cameras, landscaping, painting and new play areas to improve tenants’ safety and experience while extending the useful life of the estate.

Pacific Link will use the project to provide award wage traineeships for unemployed tenants.  A separate research program commissioned by Pacific Link will see the University of Western Sydney measure quality of life outcomes for tenants.

Pacific Link Housing is a NSW Government-approved Category 1 provider of community and social housing based in Gosford on the Central Coast – with 25 years’ experience, approximately 1,000 properties, more than  2,000 residents, around $300 million in assets under management, and an accumulated surplus of $8.6 million last financial year.

Placed under new management in 2010 the company has thrived under a skills-based Board and dynamic management focused on detailed local research, the development of evidence-based strategies, innovation across all operations and a willingness to invest and take responsibility.

Lack of supply remains a major problem. The Central Coast has 30% fewer homes available than the average for the State, and with rapid population growth forecast (39% by 2036), Pacific Link is developing active strategies in collaboration with the Community Housing and Private Market Directorate and Housing NSW.

As availability remains the single most important challenge facing Pacific Link, the company is working closely with government to develop innovative supply and delivery initiatives.









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