Welcome to our 2021 Annual Report

The Community Housing Industry Association Victoria (CHIA Vic) is the peak body that represents the not-for-profit community housing sector in Victoria.

CHIA Vic works to support the growth of community housing as the most effective and efficient means of ensuring more disadvantaged Victorians can enjoy the dignity of safe, secure and appropriate housing.

Report from the Chair and CEO

Chair Trudi Ray

Lesley Dredge

CEO Lesley Dredge

July 2020 brought with it Victoria’s second wave of the pandemic, which saw coronavirus cases emerge in community housing for the first time. This set the scene for the 2020/21 financial year being one like no other.

While, on a personal level, we were all facing challenges and learning new skills, such as working from home at a time of heightened anxiety, CHIA Vic and the community housing sector were discovering a resilience and agility that would do us proud. 2020 also saw the creation of Homes Victoria and the announcement of a historic $5.3 billion investment in social housing through the Big Housing Build, something which CHIA Vic and the sector welcomed with open arms.

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CHIA Vic’s Strategic Plan

CHIA Vic’s strategic plan 2019-21 sets out the organisation’s vision, mission and key priorities:

Our vision: ‘A thriving Victoria where everyone has the safety, security and dignity of a home – the foundation for opportunity.’

Our mission: ‘To lead and enable a diverse and dynamic community housing sector that is integral to the housing system.’

CHIA Vic’s strategic plan 2019-21 sets out the organisation’s vision, mission and key priorities

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The plan identified four key priorities, which we report against in this 2020/21 annual report:

Our membership

*as at 14 October 2021

CHIA Vic represents more than

Breakdown of our
full membership

Housing Associations Housing Providers Independent non-regulated
housing providers
10 29 25
chart-pie
chart-pie

We also have 25 Associate Members,
13 non-registered CHO members and
23 Aboriginal Housing Co-operatives affiliated through
Aboriginal Housing Victoria.

1. Strategic Policy leadership and champion reform agenda

Augment CHIA Vic’s policy development capability through members, partnerships and networks

CHIA Vic is in constant contact with our membership and stakeholders holding regular forums and meetings, as well as collating surveys and conducting one-on-one phone calls during the year when seeking input into specific issues, such as rent setting or cladding remediation costs, prior to advocating on their behalf. Meetings during the year discussed industry-specific issues such as the Stimulus Maintenance program, the Big Housing Build and COVID-19 related matters.

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Be a true partner of government in solving the housing supply challenge

As the voice of the community housing sector in Victoria, CHIA Vic is involved in providing high-level input to the Victorian Government through submissions, regular meetings and consultations.

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2. Harness & strengthen capacity

Equipping and expanding the capacity of the community housing sector to fully embrace the opportunities presented in the Big Housing Build was a key theme during the financial year.

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Review and adopt current training and development offering to meet the needs and priorities of a growing sector

 

Drawing on information and data from CHIA Vic’s training and development review, which included current and emerging workforce training needs based on national and international trends, we created a suite of courses designed to address particular training needs and bolster the sector’s capability.

 

Training

CHIA Vic recognised that a highly skilled and knowledgeable sector is essential to delivering the surge of projects under the Big Housing Build, and developed a number of training courses aimed specifically at making sure the sector was equal to the task

During 2020/21, we conducted 135 training courses, which were attended by 1,487 participants which far exceeds delivery levels in previous years.

If your organisation would like to book an in-house training session, or suggest a new training topic, please contact Holly.

View Training Schedule

New courses included

“Thanks for your support with this training. I look forward to being including in future training options via CHIAVIC.”

“Our tenancy teams have never participated in training like this and it was so valuable and practical. The data, videos, conversations and information were all very relevant.”

CHIA Vic Big Australian Housing Build Conference 2021

 

The first virtual conference Big Australian Housing Build took place over two afternoons on April 27 and 28, preceded by a networking event held at the Zinc Fed Square on April 26.

The networking event, sponsored by Community Housing Limited, attracted over 113 delegates that included local government officials, peak bodies, member and non-member organisations and sector developers. Key note speaker, Treasurer and Minister for Economic Development, Tim Pallas MP, addressed the crowd on the opportunities around the Housing Build.

The virtual conference, run in partnership with CHIA, attracted 245 unique conference registrations including 44 speakers. The delegates and the speakers came from mixed backgrounds that included academic, sector experts, CHIA board members, local government, and developers, giving the conference a highly professional profile and significance attracting local and international representatives.

With over eight plenary and 12 concurrent sessions, the program focused heavily towards recovery but also building better and stronger pathways and gave opportunities for both delegates and speakers to discourse on improving service delivery and Big Housing Build. The online conference platform was designed and structured to foster discussion between delegates in meeting hubs.

The most viewed concurrent session was Housing Regulation: Embedding a role for tenants, and according to our participant survey, the Plenary session featuring Uncle Jack telling his personal story was the most popular.

Sponsors

Without the sponsors and partners, the virtual conference would not have been able to feature such impressive international and local housing experts. The following organisations contributed to the funding: HomesVic, Community Housing Ltd, Moores, Everyone: a division of Metricon, Housing Choices Australia, Bank Australia, SPM Assets, South East Housing Co-Operatives, Karndean, Aboriginal Housing Victoria, Indigenous Business Australia, Savills Australia, HousingFirst, Development Victoria, Chintaro MDB Consulting, SDM and tenant delegate partners including HR Dept, Affordable Development Outcomes, Hornsby & Co and Unison Housing.

Engage with and support the sector to identify and implement leading practice and understand industry reforms and developments

Leading Practice Sector Group

A Leading Practice Sector Group was established to support continual quality improvement in community housing practice and assist in increasing the shared knowledge base, reputation and professionalism of the sector.  The group met five times over the year and shared knowledge on difficult practice issues and advice that guided the development of resources.  Resources developed based on the work of this group included guides for managing risks and issues related to the coronavirus pandemic as well as template policies on assignment of tenancies and dealing with goods left behind.  The group also provided input into the Describing Social Housing project by helping to document the current policies and practices of the community housing sector.

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Understand and respond to the needs of members in regional and rural Victoria

CHIA Vic supports members in regional Victoria through extensive communications, the RTA/VCAT Help Line, the Employee Assistance Program and training. A happy consequence of all our training courses being conducted online was that they were more easily accessed by rural member organisations.

Support members to explore opportunities for shared procurement and service opportunities

CHIA Vic was funded by the State Government to employ 12 workers for six months through the Working for Victoria Program, one of the Victorian Government’s initiatives to reboot the state’s economy and address unemployment due to COVID-19. CHIA Vic partnered with members and 11 of these positions were placed in CHOs to assist with the rollout of the Maintenance Stimulus Program.

 

Develop a digital capabilities framework that meets the needs of members

In November 2020, CHIA Vic held a national workshop with community housing organisations and captured data on the current use of information systems, taking into account the community housing sector’s future information needs posed by the introduction of a potential stimulus package by the Victorian Government.

The report from this consultation identified a range of sector needs to support IT strategy development and digital transformation. To assist in meeting these needs, CHIA Vic successfully applied for funding from NHFIC to support CHOs to improve their business planning for IT infrastructure through the creation of a technology strategy template and supporting resources that will provide a stepped-out process for the development of IT strategies.

CHIA Vic has partnered with CHIA NSW and is seeking additional funding in the hopes that this work can be complimented by broader research and project work to support digital transformation across the sector.

3. Build awareness & trust

CHIA Vic is in regular communication with the sector, with a number of communication assets that support our work, events and trainings, as well as keep members up-to-date with the sector news and development.

Our communication tools include our website, social media channels, magazines, monthly eBulletins and other email updates as required. Our online communications were especially employed to deliver breaking news and opportunities within hours of them happening.

A key piece of our communication work this year was developing our major communication tools to increase the scope, accessibility and reach.

Magazines

We produced a spring and summer edition of our 16-page, full-colour magazine CHIA Vic News, detailing industry news, views and innovations. In a move towards greater sustainability and accessibility, the magazine was produced in a digital format, which was able to be consumed and shared more widely.

Further work is being done to move towards a new format based on user-experience, which we anticipate will significantly increase the reach and impact of the magazine.

magazines photo

eBulletin

We distributed 10 monthly eBulletins during the year containing news, events, resources, policy changes and career opportunities.

During the first half of 2021, we sent additional enewsletters that contained time-sensitive news about the Big Housing Build, and information specific to the RTA and rebate/funding opportunities. Our enewsletters were a key driver for registrations for the CHIA Vic Big Australian Housing Build Conference and networking event.

Media

With an increased public conversation about community housing due to the Big Housing Build, CHIA Vic continued to be a strong voice in the public conversation. As the Big Housing Build began to be rolled out, our CEO Lesley Dredge, supported the sector, quoted on a number of occasions by journalists in metropolitan and regional Victoria, on homelessness and the need for more social and affordable housing.

Website

Use of our website hit a new high during the year, attracting 27,500 users, up from the 21,000 the previous year. The number of page visits also jumped from 29,000 to 39,500.

The Big Housing Build and Affordable Housing Toolkits were consistently among the most popular pages.

The increased reliance on the website for information and resources was the driver for the decision to develop a new website, and online development firm, All or Nothing, was engaged to begin work on creating a new website based on their expertise in user behaviour and engagement, with the aim of making sure visitors to the website are able to find the information they require quickly and efficiently.

Social Media

Social media as a driver to news, information and resources proved increasingly effective this year, reflecting an overall increase in the number of people using the platforms as their source of news.

Our social media strategy was platform-specific yielding tangible results. During the CHIA Vic Big Housing Build Conference, highlights and key information from the speakers was tweeted out in real time, seeing a surge in engagement of over 700 per cent on the same time the previous year.

Our newly-created Linkedin profile proved effective as a peer-to-peer platform, with an increased 188 per cent of views in one month alone.

  • facebook
  • twitter
  • linkedin

Enabling strong and respectful relationships that leverage the full potential of the community housing sector

Building on our previous work with the Municipal Association of Victoria (MAV) to develop the Affordable Housing Agreement Toolkit,  we have joined forces for a second joint project to examine the various ways local government can secure and manage affordable housing contributions over time.

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4. Enhance CHIA Vic’s organisational strength

Skilled, supported, resourced and engaged workforce with the right people in the right job at the right time

CHIA Vic engaged an Affordable Housing Business Development Officer, Stephanie Ng, to work with the private and local government sectors to increase their understanding of the community housing sector and facilitate partnerships.

Kate Robertson decided to look for other challenges and Margie Ambrose joined the team as Communications Co-ordinator. We also welcomed Eggie Jadamba in our Working for Victoria position and she has become the administrative support we have been missing. Bernie Fernando joined as our bookkeeper two days per week.

CHIA Vic worked closely with DHHS and the community housing sector to address issues and mitigate risks for tenants and staff arising due to COVID. This work included conducting preventative assessments on 18 high risk community housing facilities. Based on the findings of these assessments CHIA Vic was funded to employ an Infection Prevention Project Worker for a six-month period to improve the management of these risks with a particular focus on improving the readiness of high-risk community housing facilities for an outbreak.

There were over 100 enquiries to the Project Worker on COVID issues from CHOs as well as additional enquiries from other organisations and regulatory bodies. The most common questions related to control measures and advice on adapting services to manage infection risks. Assistance was provided in response to these queries via phone calls, emails and site visits, and informed the proactive communication and resources developed by the Project Worker.

Conduct a review of CHIA Vic’s governance model

A governance review has been commenced by the Board and should be completed by the end of 2021.

Trudi Ray
Trudi Ray
Jeanette Large
Micheal Deschepper
Roberta Buchanan
Bevan Warner
Darren Smith
Grant McNeil
Chris Karagiannis
James King
Stephen Nash
Giovanna Savini
Prof Terry Burke
David Hayward
Steven Morrissey

Board Members 2020/21

CHIA Vic’s board members play a vital role in driving the strategic direction of the organisation and providing oversight of our governance and financial management, as well as being a sounding board for sector issues.

We would like to thank our Chair, Trudi Ray; Deputy Chair Jeanette Large; Secretary Roberta Buchanan; Treasurer Michael Deschepper; and, Ordinary Board Members Bevan Warner (Launch Housing), Darren Smith (Aboriginal Housing Victoria), Grant McNeill (Community Housing Victoria), Chris Karagiannis (Salvation Army), James King (Unison), and Stephen Nash (CEHL).

In November 2020, Swinburne Prof Terry Burke and Giovanna Savini (Housing First) were appointed to the Board.

We would also like to acknowledge and thank those members who retired at the 2020 AGM: David Hayward and Steven Morrissey.

Finances

The 2021 financial year presented a challenging environment for CHIA Vic and the community housing sector more generally. The COVID-19 virus was present for the entire period and forced our small, dedicated team to manage the organisation in a manner not previously expected (or experienced) and focus on aiding member organisations with resources and guidance as they tirelessly worked to support vulnerable clients.

View Treasurer's Report

Thanks to our Supporters

As a not-for-profit peak body, CHIA Vic relies on our strong membership base and the financial support of our major sponsors to be able to provide the vital services, support, training, advocacy and project work required by our sector. We would like to thank the following organisations for their assistance in 2020/21.

Our 2020/21 Sponsors