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December 2017


  1. CEO’s report
  2. Annual report released
  3. Ageing on the edge: the older I get the scarier it becomes
  4. House Keys Operations Round 3 launched
  5. Consultation on the Draft Residential Tenancies Amendment (Review) Bill 2017
  6. CTSH Update
  7. Position vacant
  8. In the Media

CEO's Report

In the last Housing Matters for 2017 issue I thought I’d take the opportunity to acknowledge the contribution to social and affordable housing made by individuals and organisations the Federation has worked with during the past year. Our recent AGM gave us an opportunity to say thanks to many NSW based people and so this list looks interstate and international - with one exception.

First, Government and the Australian Treasury‘s  Marty Robinson, chair of the Affordable Housing Working Group and his team for driving the bond aggregator proposal forward, being open and responsive to feedback and producing an excellent final report clearly setting out the reforms needed to realise additional social and affordable housing supply. Marty is about to move posts and capital cities and we wish him well. While on matters financial, our second gong goes to Julie Lawson from RMIT for the tremendous work she has done along with her AHURI research colleagues to prosecute the case for the bond aggregator. Her research was instrumental in getting us to the NHFIC and the welcome news that the bonds will be issued with a government guarantee.

Our third award also goes to an academic, Prof Duncan Maclennan who has introduced us to the economic concepts we need to use to persuade Treasuries that investing in social and affordable housing is good for their bottom lines. He snapped a few of our synapses along the way and we’re looking forward to launching his work early in the New Year.

Then it’s over to Ottawa and the Canadian Government for number four. I was over in Toronto when the housing strategy was still a promise but it’s on paper now. They have shown it can be done.

And part of getting a National Australian Housing Strategy is to keep on talking about it in public so that moves us to housing campaigner of the year. This has to be Jeff Fielder from the Housing Aged Action Group in Victoria. Jeff has worked tirelessly to get the housing issues of older Australians for and centre. The launch of the NSW report Ageing on the Edge at the AHURI conference was a real success and we will be aiming to keep up his great work.

We also wanted to make one NSW mention, Troy Daly from the GSC who has now left the Commission. The Federation has interacted with Troy on research, planning and the Western Sydney City Deal and we want to acknowledge his energy and commitment and also wish him well in the future.

So let’s hope 2018 builds on a bit of a flurry of activity at the end of 2017  and that Santa fills that funding bucket so the community housing sector can start building the affordable homes so many in Australia need. 2018 we hope will be the year Everybodys Home.


Above: Wendy Hayhurst and Shadow Treasurer the Hon. Chris Bowen MP at a special lunch held following the 2017 Annual General Meeting this month.

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Annual Report released

The Federation's Annual Report was presented to members at the 2016-17 Annual General Meeting on December 13 and can be downloaded here.

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Ageing on the edge: the older I get the scarier it becomes

A diverse group of advocates came together at the Ageing on the Edge Forum for the launch of ‘The older I get the scarier it becomes’ report on older people at risk of homelessness in NSW. The Federation has been working with organisations from the NSW homelessness sector, older person’s and housing providers to help the research team produce their work. Jeff Fielder of the Housing Aged Action Group (HAAG) in Victoria has been leading the work as part of a national project looking at the rise of homelessness among older people.

In the last 5 years there has been a 50% increase in the number of older people paying more than 30% of their income in rent, with many of these spending more than half of their income on rent. Rental stress affects older people right across the state, from metropolitan to regional. The report maps the incidence of rental stress across local government areas in NSW based on an analysis of Department of Social Services and 2016 census data.

The room agreed that a significant increase in social housing is needed to meet the needs of older people who don’t own a home and that the priority age should be lowered from 80 to 55. Specialist support services for older people experiencing or at risk of homelessness must be established to provide much needed help to this group. Better links between the aged care and housing sectors are also key in facilitating early intervention and prevention.
We had Susan Ryan AO and Tania Milhaluk MP to help launch the work and Lateline ran a feature story the night before the launch. Watch the episode here.

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House Keys Operations Round 3 launched

The latest round of the industry’s own benchmarking platform, House Keys: Operations, is now live.
House Keys allows you to benchmark your organisation against a range of peers so that you can improve services to tenants, check you are providing value for money, highlight areas of high performance and identify where you could make savings or improve customer service.  Subscribers can now log in and check their data across critical areas such as housing management, asset management and finance and efficiency.

Adam West, the Federation’s business development manager will be running a series of webinars and events to help House Keys participants get the most out of House Keys over the next three months, and can provide individual briefings on results for CHPs managers and boards on request. 
Our top priority for future rounds of House Keys is to reduce the lag time between CHPs submitting data to the Registrar of Community Housing and the information being available via House Keys.  In order to achieve this, we will start the sign-up process for the next round early in January 2018.
For more information please contact adamw@communityhousing.org.au

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Consultation on the Draft Residential Tenancies Amendment (Review) Bill 2017

In November the Federation was asked to respond to a request from the Department of Finance, Services and Innovation about specific aspects of the Residential Tenancies Act 2010, in particular about S85, ‘no grounds’ termination. This seems to have been prompted by the recent reports of a rising proportion of the population renting in the private sector and the actions of the Victorian Government is looking to address security of tenure. Timing for the feedback was tight and the Federation asked Compass, Bridge, Wentworth and Argyle to provide input into the response. Their contribution was welcome.

Federation feedback was to support removing S85 ‘no grounds’ termination from the Residential Tenancy Act 2010 if it is associated with some additional changes to the Act. Community housing providers don’t want to use S85 but may have to when they receive a 90 day notice from a landlord and are unable to encourage a tenant to move to alternate accommodation. Without the capacity to use a no grounds termination they may have no other basis on which to terminate a tenancy and this is particularly difficult for community housing providers who rely on the private rental market to meet their leasehold program requirements and who need to manage their relationships with real estate agents and owners carefully. If S85 was removed from the Act this would no longer be an issue as no landlord would be able to issue a no grounds termination notice.

Also, whilst there are clauses which allow for termination without notice in Division 2 termination by landlord in the instance of serious damage or injury in (S90), and threatening or abusive behaviour (S92), there was some concern that the evidence bar is too high to use these sections of the Act to terminate a tenancy quickly and that the process of securing an immediate hearing can sometimes take significant time.

The Federation argued that if S85 is retained in the Act, some of the options for addressing the issues faced by community housing providers which would help ensure that they no longer had cause to use S85 terminations include:

  • Amending Sections 147 and 148 of Division 5 Termination of social housing tenancy agreements to:
    • include eligibility for a specific housing program as a criteria for eligibility under these clauses, including eligibility for affordable rental housing programs as S149(c) specifies social housing premises only
    • reflect the need to provide alternative accommodation to a tenant in a shorter time period so as to meet a 90 day notice from a landlord, for example, by reducing the requirement to offer more than one alternative property specifically for these cases
  • Ensuring that NCAT hearings of S90 and S92 cases are:
    • expedited within a set timeframe of no longer than 3 days given the severity of issues that will be associated with the issuing of termination without notice
    • do not set the burden of evidence unrealistically high for social housing landlords who are trying to ensure that neighbours, communities and staff are safe.  

The Federation also provided comment about some other issues raised by the Department including pets, minor alterations, minimum maintenance standards, regulation to tenant databases and longer term leases. If you would like any further information, please contact Deborah Georgiou on 9281 7144 (ext. 204) or deborahg@communityhousing.org.au

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Centre for Training in Social Housing Update

Overall this has been a very busy year for the Centre for Training in Social Housing and I would like to thank you for the support you have given this past 12 months.  We have received very positive feedback from you on the training we have delivered, both nationally accredited training and the tailored training we have provided specifically to meet your needs. 
We also understand the importance of balancing work, family and study.  Therefore we have tried to be flexible with both meeting our requirements as a Registered Training Organisation and your requirements for ensuring your staff are well trained.

As you may be aware I have sent out the calendar for 2018 and the enrolment period for 2018 will begin on the 8th January. Although we take enrolments any time during the year we encourage you to enrol in January to help us with our class numbers and other planning.
Information will be available on our website soon.

Next year we are also excited about working with the Australasian Housing Institute and our own Training Advisory Panel on the concept of a National Housing and Homelessness Training Framework which will include a National Workforce Development Plan. We will keep you updated via email, Housing Matters and FedEx.

We at CTSH wish you the very best for the coming holiday period and hope you enjoy your well-earned break.

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Position vacant: Aboriginal Specialist

The Federation is supporting the development of an Aboriginal peak for the Aboriginal community housing sector and now has around 50 Aboriginal member organisations.  We are looking for a dedicated and skilled Aboriginal Specialist to help us extend our work with Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal organisations. The Aboriginal Specialist will provide advice, mentoring and organisational development support.  Applicant's skills will include project management, excellent presentation and written skills, and will include successfully engaging Aboriginal communities and boards. 

Please email resume and selection criteria to recruit@communityhousing.org.au or contact adamw@communityhousing.org.au for more information.  Applications close Thursday January 25. Full position description is available here.

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In the Media

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

Affordable housing policy extended to five new Sydney councils
14 Dec 2017: Another five Sydney councils will be able to more easily require property developers to provide affordable rental housing, under changes to planning laws to be put on exhibition this week.  Chief executive of the NSW Federation of Housing Associations, Wendy Hayhurst, said the inclusion of the five councils in SEPP70 was a "sign of movement" by the planning minister.

Performance Dashboard: Western Sydney suffers worst mortgage stress
30 Nov 2017: Western Sydney is one of the country's hardest-hit areas for mortgage stress, with one in 10 households struggling to meet their mortgage payments, according to a new series of housing affordability indicators the federal government will release in coming weeks. While large sums of money were needed to subsidise affordable housing – as envisaged through the federal government's plan to set up a bond aggregator mechanism to channel institutional investment into the sector – this was spending needed to underpin economic growth at a time of rising population and increasing household demand, Ms Hayhurst said.

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