Chair’s 2019 AGM message – working together

CHIA Vic Chair Roberta Buchanan gave an empassioned speech to the members at our AGM, calling for members to work together for change.

“Welcome everyone. I am very thankful to you for being given the privilege and opportunity to be the Chair of CHIA Vic over the last year.

Fulfilling that role is made easier by the great staff we have at CHIA Vic, and those members in our sector that also volunteer their time and energy to be on the board to support Lesley and the team.

Some of those members are here today and I would like to express my sincere thanks to you for making the time in your busy schedules to participate and contribute in a significant way to CHIA Vic: Trudi Ray, Stephen Morrissey, Jeanette large, Michael Deschepper, Stephen Nash, Bevan Warner, Shane Austin, Terry Burke, Chris Glennen and Haleh Homaei.

I’d like to pay particular acknowledgement to Haleh, Chris and Terry who, for all different reasons, made the personal decision not to renominate for board this incoming year. Thank you all, thank you for your leadership, your time, your commitment. I know I can speak on behalf of the sector and the staff; we are grateful for your contributions, which have made a lasting footprint for CHIA Vic and our sector. I am personally extremely grateful to have been able to serve on the Board with you and soak in your wisdom, passion and vision.

This year we have more nominations for positions that positions themselves. I thank everyone for their expression of interest and those of us who are not elected I know CHIA Vic will make the time to see you and understand how you can still significantly contribute over the next year – we have a lot to do.

Time to reflect

So part of my role today is to reflect on the year gone by and the new year going forward…As we move into December and the close of the year, when we are all feeling a tad weary – but there is  a spark igniting at the thought of some annual leave over the festive period – it really is a poignant time to reflect.

I’d like to share some personal reflection first. It has been a hard year. The challenges our tenants and those people waiting for housing confronts us with: the ever increasing inequitable society that we live in; energy poverty, social exclusion, loneliness, financial hardship for our tenants; the lack of the basic human right and dignity to have a place to call home for those waiting to access our services is confronting and simply unacceptable.

This challenge requires leadership. And it is not leadership at an individual level – it is collective response. Leadership in our organisations to maintain financial viability whilst assisting those most vulnerable people, leadership in supporting our frontline staff who, every day, face increasing challenges in their roles.

Leadership together outside of our organisations. A collective voice, sharing and supporting each other, taking risks together, increasing our transparency to show what we are – a part of a solution to the growth and supply of housing and what we really are – great landlords.

CHIA Vic’s role is to be a vehicle that supports us to do that.

Strategic plan

Our new strategic plan supports this through four new pillars based on Leadership, Capacity, Trust and Strength.

And under those pillars there are just a few of the things Lesley and the team have delivered for, and on behalf of, the sector:

  • Energy efficiency projects, assisting member to tackle energy poverty
  • The RTA Review; voicing the needs of the sector and our tenants
  • Delivering our regular day-to-day services, the RTA and VCAT Helpline, facilitating our many working groups, training and workforce development opportunities.
  • They have built new relationships in government, particularly with DELWP, (and we hear a little later from Michael Lennon, who is the cochair on Ministerial Advisory committee for the planning mechanisms for affordable housing).
  • Lesley and the team have continued to build relationships within the department. Ensuring that new people understand our sector, its history, its capacity, its potential to add and create value.
  • Advocating for growth and responding to issues faced by our organisations and our tenants through submissions to the Royal Commission into Mental health, Inclusionary zoning, THM review, RTA review; making sure we are represented at various groups – VHR leadership, Community Services Industry planning, VCOSS peaks and state-wide network are only just a few.

So Lesley, Jess, Mary, Holly and Kate (who has brought us into the digital age with a fabulous online annual report) and Steve, thank you for your hard work, your dedication, your commitment and passion to make Victoria a more equitable society through the work that you do to support the community housing sector.

Sponsor support key

All of this is, of course, made possible through our major sponsors, DHHS, Lord Mayors Charitable Trust, Moores, Bank Australia, David Cherry, Mechfield, Acacia.

So, the year ahead. We still have many challenges to break through. None more that the increasing need for Aboriginal people to access social housing. We will hear form Darren Smith form Aboriginal Housing Victoria today about this challenge and the work CHIA Vic is doing in this space to support our sector to respond to the need through developing our capacity to delivery culturally safe services.

Doing more together

So we need to do more together. We need a collective louder voice. We need to take risks. We need to show the power of what we do. CHIA Vic is the vehicle to assist us to do that.

So, if you have a story -tell it.

If you experience a challenge – share it.

If you are doing something great that would benefit all tenants – lead with it.

And if you have the opportunity to showcase your organisation and the community housing sector – do it.

There a lot of work to do and we need to do it together.

Roberta Buchanan
CHIA Vic Chair