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News and information from the
Victorian Community Housing Sector peak body

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A message from your peak 


As the weather gets colder, the plight of those who do not have a home and sleep on our streets becomes more acute and issues surrounding housing affordability again permeate into public and media consciousness.
 
In the last couple of weeks we have had a number of articles criticising the government’s plan to redevelop some of the old, tired public housing walk up estates in well-located areas in the inner city.
 
CHFV has been actively involved in publically supporting the redevelopments with opinion pieces in The Age newspaper and the online publication The Conversation. In our view, the redevelopments are long overdue, with tenants living in sub-standard conditions. Increasing the social housing on these estates, even if it’s only by 10 per cent, is also a step in the right direction.
 
The tendering for these redevelopments has commenced and we look forward to seeing the positive impact in living conditions and social dwelling numbers that will result.


Lesley Dredge 
Executive Officer 

 

 


Insiders' briefing


Don’t miss your opportunity to hear about major issues impacting our sector, directly from those in the hot seat.

Book your seats now to hear from Assistant Minister to the Treasurer, the Hon Michael Sukkar, about the Federal Government’s housing initiatives such as the bond aggregator, and Productivity Commissioner Stephen King, who is presiding over the current investigation into ways to improve the delivery of Human Services – including affordable housing.
 

 

Feedback on the VAGO's report


Most of you reading this article will not be as old as me. I took to the streets in the 90s in support of the Auditor–General when the Kennett Government threatened to abolish the role. It was the first time I had effectively demonstrated in support of an accountant but it was a worthy campaign then and now. The Victorian Auditor General’s Office (VAGO) audits shine a light on government activity and introduce a level of accountability and transparency that we in the community housing sector are very familiar with through regulation.
 
The recently released VAGO audit into public housing assessed whether the development of a whole-of-government housing strategy, as it related to public housing, was supported by sound advice. It also reflected on the Department of Health and Human Services’ (DHHS) progress in implementing VAGO’s 2012 recommendations for improving the management of public housing.
 
In relation to the development of the Homes for Victorians (HfV) housing strategy, VAGO concluded that its policies and strategies were underlined by an extensive range of advice around housing affordability, social housing deficiencies, housing practices in other jurisdictions and potential measures to grow and sustain social housing.
 
However, it warned that the department had insufficient advice and measurements on the likely impact of funded initiatives on current and projected demand for social housing.

Click here to read more...

 

Rough Sleepers in Victoria


You might recall that a Rough Sleepers Taskforce was established last year to specifically consider issues associated with rough sleepers in the CBD.

Subsequently, Minister Martin Foley appointed Tony Nicholson for BSL to consider rough sleeping more broadly. He has produced a report Rough sleeping in Victoria – Situation appraisal, which documents what is currently known about street homelessness in Victoria with a view to informing discussion and development of a long-term strategy to reduce it.

The situation appraisal will inform discussions with stakeholders during mid-2017, prior to the development of advice on a Rough Sleeping Strategy to be provided to the Minister for Housing by the end of October 2017.

You can download the report here.
 

Filthy Rich and Homeless

 


Rough sleeping is an issue that has been attracting a lot of media through the airing of SBS’s program Filthy Rich and Homeless, a three-part series that sees five wealthy Australians experiencing 10 days homeless on the streets of Melbourne.

Whilst the premise had the potential to be cringeworthy, the result is compelling viewing that sheds a light on the challenges faced by the small proportion of Australia’s homeless who are the most visible tip of the homeless iceberg.

You can watch Filthy Rich and Homeless on SBSonDemand.

 
 

Compulsory reporting of suspected abuse


The Victorian Government has brought in new laws for the reporting child abuse to the Commission for Children and Young People.

This law sets out a compulsory reportable conduct scheme for organisations and businesses in Victoria. This scheme requires compulsory reporting of any allegations of ‘reportable conduct’ or employee misconduct involving a child to be reported to the Commission for Children and Young People, an independent body in charge of administering the reporting scheme.

Information on the allegations will then be shared with regulators, Victoria Police, the Secretary to the Department of Justice and Regulation and any other prescribed person or body.  

Click here for more information and see the attached the information brief prepared by our sponsor Moores.

 

 

 

Productivity Commission update


CHIA and the state and territory peaks are compiling the sector’s response to the Productivity Commission’s draft report Introducing Competition and Informed User Choice In Human Services.

The report, which includes housing, is looking at innovative ways to improve outcomes through introducing the principles of competition and informed user choice whilst maintaining or improving quality of service.

It is expected CHIA Chair Michael Lennon, CHIA CEO Peta Winzar, and NSW Federation of Community Housing’s CEO Wendy Hayhurst will make a presentation to the commission’s public hearing in Canberra on Tuesday, July 25.

The sector response will be made available to CHFV/CHIA members.

 

 Tenancy Plus

The Victorian Government recently announced the provision of an additional $1.5 million to expand and change the Social Housing Advocacy and Support Program into Tenancy Plus – a support program for social housing tenants experiencing difficulties.

Tenancy Plus will now receive annual funding of $7.2 million and its emphasis will shift from crisis intervention to a pro-active early intervention approach providing assistance to more than 3,800 tenants whose tenancies may be a risk.

CHFV is pleased that some of the funding has been restored to this program, however we are disappointed that only the community housing tenants in registered agencies participating in the Victorian Housing Register will be eligible. Our view is that all social housing tenants deserve equal access.

 

Model goods left behind procedures



CHFV has developed a set of model procedures for community housing organisations (CHOs) to deal with goods left behind by tenants and residents.  This has been prompted by concerns about the number of community housing properties that are vacant at any one time, particularly in the Transition Housing Management (THM) program. 

The reasons for properties being vacant are varied but major contributors are slow maintenance processes, delays in filling vacancies by support organisations with nomination arrangements, and delays due to housing organisations waiting for completion of Goods Left Behind inspection reports by Consumer Affairs Victoria (CAV).

The latter is one cause that is more readily addressed. The Residential Tenancies Act (RTA) Review has recognised that the current procedures are cumbersome and outmoded (in particular, the references to placing advertisements in newspapers and arranging public auctions), and should be streamlined and modernised.

They have developed options to ensure procedures for goods left behind align with contemporary communication and selling practices, and enable tenants to recover goods left behind in a reasonable timeframe, without placing unreasonable burdens on landlords.  Any changes, however, are unlikely to be in place until late 2018. In the meantime, landlords, including CHOs must operate according to the current legislation.

Click here to read more.

 

Promoting sector collaboration

The Human Services & Health Partnerships Implementation Committee has released a summary report of the Industry planning symposium held in March this year and attended by more than 100 community as service sector leaders.

The aim of the symposium was to bring government and industry leaders to work collaboratively on sector planning.

Click here to read the summary.

 

Wintringham to manage new $1.2m facility


Specialist community aged care provider Wintringham has been announced as the manager of a new $12 million aged care facility to be built in Bellerive, Tasmania. The facility, aimed at over 65 year olds, will include residential care beds with independent living units for the over 50s, with the Federal Government funding 40 residential aged care places each year.

The funding has been made by the Tasmanian Government through its Affordable Housing Strategy with the aim of providing safe, affordable accommodation for up to 50 low income frail and elderly Tasmanians in need.
Construction is expected to start in the 2018-19 financial year. 

 

New affordable housing challenge

 

Lord Mayor’s Charitable Foundation is seeking proposals from landowners (local government, statutory authorities or not-for-profit organisations) who would like to take part in its new Affordable Housing Challenge.
The challenge aims to engage leaders from the local government, not-for-profit, community housing and development sectors in developing new solutions to the need to increase the supply of affordable housing.

The Foundation has contributed $1 million to the Affordable Housing Challenge and there is an opportunity for another $2 million impact investment via Social Enterprise Finance Australia.

Proposals from landowners who are able to commit a site for affordable housing will be accepted until 18 August 2017.

Click here to apply.

 

Website innovation needs your help


The Summer Foundation has been funded to build a prototype housing website that will have capacity to centrally advertise DHHS SDAs, community and disability provider vacancies and new builds in the North East Melbourne Area (NEMA) and the ACT. 

The website will offer people with disability the opportunity to search for a range of housing types, and will offer a transparent process for people with disability seeking DHHS SDA places. The intent is to scale the site across Australia after the trial. It will rely upon community providers to engage with the website, and to contribute their vacancies and the Summer Foundation is keen to hear from community housing providers  about how best to make this work for the sector.

You can email you ideas to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call Lee on 0491 222 274. An information session will also be held in July.

 

Study grants open

 

Applications for the Human services scholarship and Ethel Temby research grant program are now open for employees in the human services sector undertaking a qualification or completing a research project.

The scholarship provides financial assistance to undertake study in 2018 or 2019.  There are 4 types of scholarships available: Disability scholarships, Housing scholarships, Child Protection scholarships, and Dsability Development Support Officer (DDSO) Senior Leadership.

The Ethel Temby research grant provides up to $9,000 to complete a research project during 2018 that supports the vision of Absolutely everyone state disability plan 2017-2020.

Applicants are encouraged from people employed under the HACSU award who are interested in obtaining a qualification in leadership, work in housing or homelessness or child protection.

Click here for more information. Applications close on 18 July at 5pm.

 

BeyondHousing


Rural Housing Network Limited has changed its name to BeyondHousing.

CEO Celia Adams says the new ‘trading as’ name will not impact on their services. “We still have the same friendly, compassionate team and will continue to deliver the high standards of service you have come to expect.”

“Rural Housing Network was formed in 1998. Since then, our purpose has evolved to provide support, housing and advocacy services to people at risk of homelessness and those in private rental experiencing housing stress. Our new name better reflects this holistic approach.”

The organisation’s phone and address details remain the same, but they have a new website and associated email addresses.
 

 

 Planning Act changes


The Minister for Planning, the Hon Richard Wynne, has tabled changes to the Planning Act to incorporate a ‘Purpose in the Act’ to 'facilitate affordable housing supply' and to add a definition of affordable housing being:
Housing, including social housing, that is appropriate for the housing needs of any of the following:
a. very low income households
b. low income households
c. moderate income households.
 
The Minister has published income ranges for each of these household groups.
 
The Amendment also includes inclusion of a reference that a 'responsible authority may enter into an agreement with an owner of land for the development or provision of land in relation to affordable housing'.
 
CHFV will follow this issue and work with the Affordable Housing Industry Advisory Group to keep members informed.

Click here for more information and here to see CHFV’s response.

 

Training updates

CHFV training program


CHFV’s training schedule for July to December 2017 is now available to view online with more than 25 short courses available.

Click here for details on our courses or contact our Training Coordinator Holly to request a tailored in-house training course.

Registration details will be distributed by email approximately one month prior to the course, seminar or events and bookings will be accepted from that time.

 

New professional training 

 

CHFV is developing a package of courses that have been tailored to meet the professional development needs of experienced housing workers.


An induction program has also been created for housing and tenancy workers as they start their careers in the community housing industry. Participants in the induction program must complete all five highly-recommended units and a minimum number of two elective units over a six-month period with subjects ranging from understanding their professional responsibilities to working with community housing clients.

The next intake for the induction course will be in August with members eligible for a 20 per cent discount if they pay for the entire Induction Program in advance.

Contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for any training and registration related queries or to register for the induction program.

 

Family violence training for tenancy workers


CHFV is running new training for tenancy management staff on how to recognise risk factors and signs of family violence, such as extra maintenance or repairs, broken locks, broken windows, holes in walls, or complaints from neighbours and neighbour concerns about the safety of other tenants.

The training program follows the Family Violence Royal Commission’s recognition of the key role of housing in community responses to family violence. All forms of housing – public, community and private market – have a role to play

The landlord may be the ‘first to know’ that violence is occurring in a family and be well placed to refer tenants to support services.  Importantly, CHOs can avoid taking actions that, in effect, punish the victim.

The training will include options for tenancy staff and victims under the Residential Tenancies Act and when it is appropriate to refer matters to the police and support services. 

The session will be co-facilitated by Cindy Fredericks and Tania McKenna from safe steps Family Violence Response Centre for Residential Services and CHFV’s in-house Residential Tenancies Act and the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal expert Mark Smoljo.

Mark assisted in compiling the CHFV resource Playing our Part – Landlord resource kit for family violence protection. Members can This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. Mark to request a copy.

The next session will be held on Wednesday, July 12 from 9.30 AM – 12:30 PM (morning tea provided), at CHFV, Level 1, 128 Exhibition St, Melbourne. The cost will be members $220, including GST, $242 including GST for non members.

Download the registration form here or contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for all booking and inquiries about this training.

Department of Health and Human Services in conjunction with Community Housing Federation of Victoria (CHFV) are holding a series of information sessions around the state to inform stakeholders about the next phase of implementation of the Victorian Housing Register.

The information session will cover:

  • Overview of the Victorian Housing Register – including structure and  types of housing  
  • How the Register will be implemented in phase 2
  • Enabling legislation to operate the Register
  • Information sharing arrangements charter
  • Key roles for participating  registered agencies, designated service providers and DHHS staff
  • What’s changing information on the complaints and feedback process
  • Overview of the process for community housing agencies who may wish to participate in the register

Following the information session will be a demonstration of the online application tool, which is used to register applicants.

The timetable displays the confirmed information sessions.  Further sessions will be held in:

  • Bayside Peninsula
  • Broadmeadows
  • Preston
  • Sunshine
  • Geelong
  • Mildura


For further information please contact Penny Hunt This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or Andrew McDade on This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
 

 

VCAT/RTA news


New VCAT Notice of Hearing released
People coming to VCAT for residential tenancies hearings will now receive a new version of the Notice of Hearing. You can see the updated notice on the VCAT website.  

New Summary of Proofs form
As described in the May eBulletin there is a  new Summary of Proofs form which tenancy workers should complete and take to VCAT hearings. VCAT have fixed a few faults in the first version that you received in May. The newest version is on the VCAT website. You will find that it says this document is “27 August 2015”, but ignore this – the form on the website is the June 2017 latest version.

Concerns about Reviews of VCAT Decisions
A number of community housing organisations have expressed concerns that believe the review provisions are being abused by tenants in the know. When this was put to VCAT they responded that:
a.            There were 56, 412 residential tenancies cases listed last year. Of these only 2,800 were the subject of reviews (5%). When these were also not attended only 267 were the subject of request for leave for a further review (0.5%). These are not very high percentages.
b.            Due to Supreme Court decisions, VCAT members have to set the bar fairly low when deciding whether to allow a review. In your examples below I believe that the first excuse would usually not cut it with a VCAT member, but, believe it or not, the other two would be accepted by quite a few VCAT members. One thing you should do is make sure that your residents/tenants are aware of each hearing, and ideally, be able to prove they were aware of the hearing.
c.             It is part of natural justice that people have a right to a review if they miss a hearing with a reasonable excuse. In fact, housing workers have to ask for reviews too, on occasions.

CHFV’s response was that community housing organisations seem to be disproportionately affected by reviews, due to community housing tenants knowing how to use the system and deliberately missing hearings. However, we do not have any figures to back us up. CHFV will be conducting a small survey to look at the prevalence of reviews in a few community housing organisations over a set period of time.

VCAT RT Hub – credit card payments
The VCAT RT Hub is currently having difficulty processing credit card payments. Hopefully most community housing organisations have accounts with VCAT and pay by direct debit. This system is still working well. If you are having problems, ring the VCAT RT list.

New Wording for Oath or Affirmation
VCAT will soon be introducing a simplified version of the oath or affirmation that will cater generically for different faiths.

VCAT Koori Awareness Officer
VCAT now has a Koori awareness officer who will be responsible for training all VCAT members and staff. There will be a similar initiative for family violence. They have already produced a brochure about family violence and residential tenancies.
 

 

In the news


Government media release: More private rental support for family violence victims announced
ABC online: Brighton residents protest at State Government’s plan to build a nine-storey mixed public and private housing apartment tower.
 SBS Can homelessness ever be solved?
The Age A tale of three Melbournes as inner city detaches from outer suburbs
The Australian Census reveals households are becoming more crowded amid affordability squeeze
Brisbane Times Vanishing dream: Home ownership plummeting in Victoria
SBS Can't afford the rent? How the housing crisis could put you at risk of homelessness 
The New Daily Ticking time bomb': Older Australians face housing crisis 
The Australian Sleeping rough to help the homeless
The Guardian Grenfell Tower tragedy shows social housing system has failed UK citizens 
ABC Airbnb in Australia shows the sharing economy has a 'dark side
The Weekend Australian Australian dream reinvented: making renting more attractive
The Age No child will live in poverty; 30 years on Bob Hawke’s promise remains an elusive goal
News.com.au Victorian public housing needs overhaul: report

 

In case you missed it


CHFV submissions to various consultations:

State Housing Policy 

  • Statewide Housing Register: CHFV Principles Paper - Click here...
  • Access to Community Housing in Victoria - Click here...
  • CHFV 2016-2017 State Budget Submission: Delivering on the promise of a strong and sustainable housing sector - Click here...
  • Community housing and public accountability in Victoria: Community Housing is not Privatisation - Click here...
  • Better asset management - Click here...
  • Improving Transitional Housing - Click here...
  • Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities, Submission by the Community Housing Federation of Victoria - Click here...
  • Royal Commission into Family Violence; Joint Peaks Submission van be accessed here, the CHFV Submission can be downloaded here... 
  • Community Housing in Victoria, Who do we house? - Challenging the Myths - Click here... 
  • Value Proposition, Making the Case for Public Housing Transfers to Community Housing Organisations - Click here...
  • Reforming Victoria's Privacy Legislation - Click here...
  • Family Violence Information Sharing - Click here...

Residential Tenancy Act Review


Planning 

  • Submission to Infrastructure Victoria's "All things considered" - Click here...
  • Laying the Foundations Victoria’s 30-year infrastructure strategy  - Click here... 
  • Community Housing Sector ‘Inclusionary Zoning’ Position and Capacity Statement - Click here...
  • Better Apartments, CHFV's brief submission on the discussion paper - Click here...

Commonwealth & NDIS 

  • Joint Submission on the Smart Cities Plan - Click here...
  • Response to the Affordable Housing Working Group Issues Paper - Click here...
  • Submission to the Joint Standing Committee on the NDIS - Click here...
  • Submission on the NDIS Specialist Disability Accommodation Pricing and Payments Framework - Click here...

 

With thanks to our sponsors and partners: