Gas heater recall update

If you have a client who has had their gas heater shut off who is over 75 years old or has a serious health condition then it is possible to have the replacement of their heater prioritised.

Simply contact the Department of Health and Human Services’ Call Centre and ask them to escalate the replacement of a gas heater that has been shut off, giving your tenants age or their specific health condition as the reason. You should not require supporting evidence.

The Call Centre has hired more staff to cope with the increase in calls due to the heater recall and briefed them on the need to escalate heater replacements for these cohorts.

There are still limits to how fast the replacements can be installed, so although the escalation process will prioritise the replacement, it may not be immediate. This is due to safety requirements that limit the number of installations gas plumbers can perform in a day and, potentially, issues with accessing appropriate replacement heaters.

Please circulate this information to your staff.

New Residential Tenancies Commissioner

Deputy CEO of Launch Housing and CHIA Vic Board Member Dr Heather Holst has been appointed as Victoria’s inaugural Commissioner for Residential Tenancies.

CHIA Vic CEO Lesley Dredge says Dr Holst is a ‘brilliant’ choice for the position.

‘Heather has worked in the housing, homelessness and tenancy sectors since 1989. With her experience of the sector stretching from the coal face of being a frontline worker through to senior executive and board roles, she will bring invaluable knowledge and skills to this new role.’

‘Victorian tenants will have a committed and diligent advocate,’ Ms Dredge says.

As Commissioner for Residential Tenancies, Dr Holst will work closely with stakeholders across the rental sector to identify systemic issues and make recommendations to government.

Minister for Consumer Affairs, Gaming and Liquor Regulation Marlene Kairouz says, ‘Dr Heather Holst has long been an advocate for housing rights and I congratulate her on her appointment.’




Why LGAs should work with CHOs

The new planning mechanisms for affordable housing came into effect on 1 June 2018 as a result of amendments to the Planning and Environment Act 1987.

CHIA Vic has created a factsheet for local government detailing how they can increase affordable housing in their municipality by working in partnership with community housing organisations.

Download your copy here.

An Aboriginal Housing and Homelessness Framework for Victoria

In a first for Victoria, the Government has recognised the need for a comprehensive and cohesive response to the housing stress experienced by Aboriginal Victorians.

Aboriginal Housing Victoria has advocated long and hard for the development of an Aboriginal Housing and Homelessness Framework and in the spirit of self-determination the government has agreed that Aboriginal Housing Victoria lead this work.

The Victorian Aboriginal community is strong in its culture and identity but colonisation and dispossession have had long lasting and far reaching effects. A lack of policy effort and investment in housing has resulted in very poor outcomes and progress towards closing the gap has been very slow in many areas.

We are pleased to announce that Professor Kerry Arabena, who is the Chair of Indigenous Health Equity at Melbourne University, will Chair a Steering Committee to guide work on the Aboriginal Housing and Homelessness Framework.

Professor Arabena says, ‘This work is critical for supporting our families to achieve health and wellbeing, and for creating intergenerational opportunities that enable people to live happy, fulfilling and meaningful lives.

‘We are committed to self-determination and often this relates to people having not only a house, but a home from which they can feel safe, loved, protected and supported.

‘We will be ensuring that a wide range of stakeholders have input into the development of this framework. We will be holding a Summit early next year to provide ways for all levels of government, those in community controlled and nongovernment organisations and tenants to work to support the aspirations of householders.

‘This way of working, of privileging the voice of tenants and for all of us to respond in the ways they want, when they want, is very powerful. The tenants can also then be supported in the uptake of their responsibility to ensure the houses become homes and that families are able to do more than survive, rather thrive and flourish.’

The framework will take a rights-based approach and will structure its work around:
• people’s housing needs across their life course
• the programs and supports needed to achieve improved housing outcomes
• the capacity and capability of service and housing providers to deliver on objectives.

We know that stable, safe and secure housing is the foundation for successful investments in education, training, employment, health, justice and family violence.

Homelessness, social housing, private rental and home ownership all need to be addressed if housing outcomes are to improve. In the absence of an integrated approach, Aboriginal Victorians will continue to be subject to piecemeal initiatives, major gaps in program offerings, and lost opportunities to build long-term sustainable housing outcomes.

We are determined to break out of the cycle of housing disadvantage experienced by Aboriginal Victorians. We think we can do it.

We would also like to thank CHIA Vic for supporting and advocating for the development of an Aboriginal Housing and Homelessness Framework.

Please visit the Aboriginal Housing Victoria website for further details or contact AHV.

-article courtesy of AHV

$3m partnership to deliver new homes in Mitchell Shire

A partnership between the Victorian Property Fund (VPF), Mitchell Shire Council and BeyondHousing will see eight new homes built for couples, single parents and families at risk of homelessness in Wallan, Broadford and Seymour.

The new homes were announced by Minister for Consumer Affairs, Marlene Kairouz, on Wednesday 1 August.

BeyondHousing CEO, Celia Adams, said the Minister’s involvement highlighted the significance of the partnership.

‘BeyondHousing is contributing just over $1million and the Victorian Government $2million through the Victorian Property Fund. It’s a major project for us and we thank Minister Marlene Kairouz for the investment,’ Ms Adams said.

Ms Adams also welcomed Mitchell Shire Council’s support of the project.

‘Mitchell Shire is experiencing rapid population growth and we share their desire to ensure there is a place for everyone in these towns,’ Ms Adams said.

‘Mitchell Shire is leading the way in how councils can work with agencies like ours to ensure their communities get the most out of funding opportunities.’

Mitchell Shire Mayor, Cr Rhonda Sanderson said the housing would address a critical need in the area.

‘There is significant need for increased funding for homelessness services across the shire and greater investment in social housing – this is something we have been lobbying for as part of our advocacy priorities,’ Cr Sanderson said.

‘We are pleased to work with BeyondHousing to increase affordable housing in our shire and we sincerely thank the Victorian Government and BeyondHousing for helping deliver this fantastic service for our community.’

BeyondHousing is the largest housing and homelessness service provider within the Goulburn and Ovens Murray regions of Victoria. Last year BeyondHousing provided services to more than 5500 people and owns or manages more than 700 homes.

Ms Adams said the new homes would be a mixture of units and houses to respond to the housing needs of single parents, couples and families.

BeyondHousing’s contribution was used to purchase land on which the homes will be built.

‘Work will start soon on house design. We have appointed Sessions, Metricon and New View Homes as the preferred builders,’ Ms Adams said.

Tim Sessions from Sessions Builders said they enjoy working with BeyondHousing, building quality homes for people in need and also keeping local people in work, such as builders and trades.

Ms Adams said BeyondHousing deliberately focused on working closely with local builders to support their efforts to offer jobs in the community and add to the local economy.

‘This is a significant injection of economic activity in the area and we prefer to develop longer term relationships with builders in our catchment area,’ she said.

BeyondHousing is committed to addressing homelessness, supporting people in housing stress and increasing the supply of affordable housing.

‘Increasing the supply of affordable housing in the Goulburn Valley and north east Victoria is a key priority of ours over the next three years. Last year we added 16 new homes to our portfolio,’ Ms Adams said.

The project is supported by the Victorian Property Fund through the Victorian Government.

Bendigo project to assist young people

Minister for Consumer Affairs Marlene Kairouz has announced a $2.78 million grant from the Victorian Property Fund to Haven; Home, Safe (HHS) for the construction of 16 dwellings at two sites, totalling 28 bedrooms.

HHS will contribute $1.84 million towards the $4.62 million which will provide long-term affordable rental housing for low income single youth and single young parents at risk of homelessness.

Support services will be a key component of the projects, with tenants of the Flora Hill site able to access the adjoining Sidney Myer Haven youth complex, providing opportunities to participate in life-skill building activities and pre-vocational training programs.

The Flora Hill site, on Somerville Street, will comprise four one-bedroom units and four two-bedroom units, while the North Bendigo site at Lobb Street will be home to eight two-bedroom units. Both sites will be close to the Bendigo CBD, transport, schools, TAFE, community services and employment opportunities.

All dwellings will include a range of environmentally sustainable design features, including heat pumps and solar boosted hot water systems, water saving taps and showerheads, and plumbed rainwater collection tanks to help reduce utility costs.

Rent will be capped at 75 per cent of market rent or 30 per cent of household income.

HHS will oversee the construction and management of the $4.62 million development.

Victoria’s first Registered Housing Association provider, HHS has been providing services to the homeless and disadvantaged since 1979, and currently owns and manages more than 1900 housing units, accommodating in excess of 3,000 people.

‘This is about helping vulnerable young people in and around Bendigo get back on their feet by providing stable and safe long-term accommodation where they need it most,’ Ms Kairouz said.

Member for Bendigo West Maree Edwards said affordable housing projects like these ‘are vital for low income and disadvantaged young people in our community’.

Tenders for the construction of the Lobb Street project will go out to builders in the coming weeks.

-source, HHS

WHL awarded Housing Association Status

In an exciting development, the Housing Registrar has approved Women’s Housing Limited’s (WHL) application to become a Housing Association.

WHL’s CEO, Judy Line says the status change from Housing Provider to Housing Association, which has been 18 months in the making, is significant: ‘Becoming a Housing Association presents a wonderful opportunity for WHL and our clients – present and future.

‘As a Housing Association, WHL will have the capacity and resources to be able to provide more specialist housing for women and children.

‘For women in need, it’s about providing housing security and also a pathway out of disadvantage.’

CHIA Vic’s Chair Haleh Homaei congratulated WHL on the news.

‘It’s a huge achievement for WHL and it’s great to have a specialist women’s housing provider within the pool of Housing Associations.’

The Registrar of Housing Agencies, Bernard Gastin, approved Women’s Housing Limited’s application for a change in category to a Housing Association under the Housing Act 1983, based on its demonstrated capacity to grow at scale through a strong track record of consistent housing growth in the past and a future growth strategy that will continue this trend.

Whilst Registered Housing Providers vary in size, they primarily manage rental housing portfolios for other parties, such as the Director of Housing (DoH). Whilst some own properties, their growth is small scale compared with housing associations.

‘WHL specialises in the provision of affordable housing for women and children and has grown its asset base of $0.3 million in 2008 (with no owned property) to $54 million by 30 June 2019. Tenancy numbers have grown from 108 to 400. This scale is consistent with Tier 1 housing provider status under the National Regulatory System for Community Housing,’ Mr Gastin says.

‘WHL has also established a pipeline of projects, including a new development in Bayswater and partnership with major developers such as Lendlease. These projects will continue to increase the supply of affordable housing by approximately 60 units by 2025-26. The growth is achieved through WHL’s own capital investment as well as leveraging generous developer land contributions and without relying solely on government funding.’

The broader Housing Registrar team also congratulated WHL on achieving this important milestone.

‘We will continue to work closely with WHL to ensure the regulatory requirements of a Housing Association are met.’

WHL joins the other nine Registered Housing Associations in Victoria: Aboriginal Housing Victoria Limited, Common Equity Housing Limited, Community Housing (Vic) Limited, Housing Choices Australia Limited, HousingFirst Limited, Haven; Home, Safe Limited, Beyond Housing Limited, Unison Housing Limited and Wintringham Housing Limited. There are 30 Registered Housing Providers in Victoria.

New COO for Haven

Haven; Home, Safe has promoted Trudi Ray to the newly created position of Chief Operations Officer (COO) as part of a restructure of Victoria’s only fully integrated homelessness services and affordable housing providers.

Prior to being appointed COO, Ms Ray was the Executive Director for Operations in the southern region of Victoria for two years after serving as Executive Director Corporate Services from 2010 to 2016.

HHS Chief Executive Officer Ken Marchingo AM said last week the appointment followed the recent departure of Executive Director for Operations (North) Niall Hensey after nine years’ service.

‘This created an opportunity to deliver a different structure that more closely supports the strategy of the Board and the organisational requirements into the future,’ Mr Marchingo said.

‘Trudi has worked closely with me for over 14 years and is an outstanding and valued member of the Executive Management Team.

‘I look forward to working with her and the Executive as we drive the next stage in the organisation’s evolution and growth.’

Ms Ray said she was excited about the opportunity to work with the General Managers and staff to turn HHS’s strategy into operational and financial success.

‘With single IT housing systems and the development of a new CRM, we are in the process of being fully data-driven where the business can be guided by real-time data,’ Ms Ray said.

‘Operations across the organisation are complex and diverse and we have a genuinely talented and committed team who daily work towards preventing homelessness and giving people a place to call home.

‘The Board has set a great strategy and with my fellow executive we will continue to keep our strategy front and centre, ensuring we build towards more homes, more supports, more partnerships and more capacity,’ she said.

Ms Ray said that while there had been significant investment and commitments made in recent times, Victoria’s overall social housing stock was on the decline when measured as a proportion of all housing.

‘Wherever you look, in metropolitan Melbourne or in regional and rural Victoria, there is a chronic shortage of affordable and available rental housing which has significant social and economic costs not just to the individuals and families but also communities,’ she said.

HHS as always will continue to work with the sector and all levels of government to advocate for the housing and support needed.

Ms Ray will maintain offices in Preston and Geelong and conduct regular staff and stakeholder meetings in the Loddon and Mallee offices in Bendigo and Mildura.

The restructure will include the creation of two Executive General Manager positions to oversee day-to-day operations in the south and north of the state reporting to the new COO.


Trudi Ray has been responsible for growing and managing Haven; Home, Safe’s support services and housing portfolio across the northern and eastern suburbs of Melbourne in addition to expanding HHS’s footprint in the Barwon South West Region since 2016 in her former role of Executive Director Operations (South).

Over the past two years, HHS has secured more homes and supports for women and families fleeing family violence and those that are homeless working in concert with many support partners also delivering on a 17-unit development in the centre of Geelong.

Trudi’s strong work ethic and diverse management and leadership skills developed over the past 14 years has stood her in good stead as she takes up the Chief Operations Officer role.

Trudi has worked out of both our Geelong and Preston offices and prior to relocating to Geelong in 2015, Trudi was HHS Executive Director Corporate Services responsible for the agency’s Human Resources, IT, Risk Management, OH&S and communications programs

In November 2016 Trudi was elected to the Board of the Community Housing Federation Victoria (now CHIA Vic) and believes in advocating strongly for those most vulnerable in our community, those that are homeless, fleeing family violence or those in housing crisis.

Trudi understands the complexities of vulnerable communities and her passion for social justice and strong community spirit extends beyond the workplace having been the youngest women to be elected a local government councillor in Regional Australia in 2004.

She is a Justice of the Peace, Interim Chair Victorian Branch of Australasian Housing Institute of Australia, a member of the Manningham Council Healthy City Advisory Committee, and has been invited to participate on the Hume Moreland Housing Action Group and Intervening early to prevent homelessness working group with DHHS.

Trudi has received certification two years running into the AHI certified housing professional Level 3, one of only seven housing professionals in Victoria to do so.

Ranked in the top 15 per cent of all La Trobe University graduates in 2013, Trudi is now mentoring other MBA students through the La Trobe Alumni.

-article courtesy of Haven; Home, Safe

Your invite to NAIDOC celebrations

Aboriginal Housing Victoria (AHV) invites you to help celebrate NAIDOC week, and the final round of title transfers of properties from the Victorian government to AHV.

This is a significant event for Aboriginal Victorians but also for the broader community; celebrating the transfer and the vision of our Elders for Aboriginal Victorians to own and manage their social housing.

The NAIDOC event will be held tomorrow at the Collingwood Children’s farm.

Download the invitation