On 8-9 September in Sydney, the NSW Aboriginal Housing Office (AHO) co-hosted an Aboriginal Housing Master Class with the Australasian Housing Institute.
The Master Class was an opportunity to bring leaders from the Aboriginal Housing sector together to share information, highlight national learnings and address some of the big issues facing the sector.
Speakers such as Sam Jeffries, Sally Langton and AHO Chief Executive Shane Hamilton addressed the core question: How do we combine the experience of mainstream housing and Aboriginal housing to learn from each other and collaborate to better address Aboriginal housing issues and support sustainability?
According to Shane, the AHO was initially approached to consider an Aboriginal Housing Conference, but felt that a Master Class was a more dynamic forum to have detailed conversations.
Shane also highlighted the importance of the event being a national initiative, particularly given the National Partnership Agreement on Remote Indigenous Housing (NPARIH) ends in 2018.
“We know that each state is in a different place with that agreement, so the conversation about Aboriginal Housing is absolutely one that concerns the whole of Australia,” explains Shane.
“As a sector, we need to start talking about where the real pressure points are going to be beyond 2018, and put our heads together to think about what a new agreement might focus on and whether another one should be developed.”
The Master Class was also an exciting opportunity to take a strengths-based approach and reflect on what has worked well in the sector and what it can keep building on. It was a time to look at what the sector could do differently and how it may need to change, to respond to emerging issues.
“There is great opportunity for us to share ideas and existing stories as a platform to talk about real solutions for future housing options for Aboriginal people,” says Shane.
“For example, there have been some really positive initiatives in transitional housing programs in Western Australia, which have clearly improved housing options for remote communities. This is something we could perhaps learn from and amplify nationally.”
One of the key issues the AHO wanted to raise with their national counterparts was that of stronger community engagement around the type of housing systems that are actually needed.
“In many cases, big national agreements can be seen to be imposing things on Aboriginal communities and developing systems and structures for us that do not reflect individual needs and aspirations.
“We don’t want to be in a situation where time and dollars drive a program and its outcomes; we want the drivers to be innovation and community need. This means we need to look at how we can better collaborate and co-design with our communities.”
Shane says should a new agreement or any kind of national partnership be developed, he wants to see innovation at its core, as it can’t simply be a ‘one size fits all’ model.
The AHO believes that forums like the Master Class are a great opportunity for this kind of innovation to flourish.
“With the NPARIH agreement ending in 2018, we need to start having these conversations now, so that we can better understand the level of need to plan for and start working on providing new solutions for people, as they transition through the housing continuum.
“We need to have a system that is responsive to those needs at every point on someone’s journey – not just solutions that are stuck and focused at one end of the spectrum.”
Shane argues that if you think about the broader, closing-the-gap agenda and look to health challenges, mental health, education, employment – all of those things have a theme, and that theme is housing support providing a strong foundation to address all of these other challenges.
“Beyond 2018, we know there will still be a lot of unmet need and there’s a challenge in making sure that programs are available at each stage of the housing continuum.
“We will also still face the challenge of making sure that programs and services are culturally relevant for Aboriginal people and their families. I think there’s a lot more we can do to support mainstream providers, who are connecting with Aboriginal communities,” says Shane.
The AHO hopes to continue to deliver master classes and similar events to ensure Aboriginal Housing has a voice and a recognised place in the broader housing sector.
“We do need our own platform to inform policy going forward. We need clear access and choice in housing options and we need to support our community in housing as well.
“By coming together as a national community, we can hopefully influence policy in a positive way and keep community need at the centre of decision making.”
Don't miss the FREE Festival of Energy at the Dubbo Showground, Friday 2 September 2016.
Proudly hosted by the Aboriginal Housing Office, the Festival of Energy is designed to help you reduce your energy bills.
Featuring exhibits, demonstrations and presentations, the Festival of Energy will show you new ways to save energy and check that you’re on the right energy deal. You’ll also be able to receive on-the-spot assistance from energy-related programs and assistance services.
The Festival of Energy will include family-friendly entertainment, cultural performance and storytelling, a delicious FREE BBQ lunch, a performance by the Street Warriors, a lucky door prize and much more!
The Festival of Energy is open to everyone from 11am to 4pm and is completely FREE to attend.
We are pleased to let you know that after extensive planning and negotiation, the Aboriginal Housing Office (AHO) has received Ministerial approval to transfer ownership of many Government-owned properties, purchased under the Housing Aboriginal Communities Program (HACP), to eligible Aboriginal housing organisations.
Click here for a message from the AHO's Chief Executive, Shane Hamilton.
Further information will be provided in early 2016.
Did you know that on any given night in Australia, 1 in 200 people are homeless?
There are currently 105,237 people in Australia who are homeless. And 25 per cent of them (or 26,744) are Aboriginal and Torres Trait Islander Australians.
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians are 15 times more likely to be staying in improvised dwellings, tents or sleeping rough than non-Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islanders.
At the AHO, our vision is to ensure that every Aboriginal person in NSW has equal access to, and choice in, affordable housing. We are committed to doing all we can to put an end to homelessness amongst Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians.
After the AHO Chief Executive Shane Hamilton took part in this year’s CEO Sleepout, he reflected on a situation over 100,000 Australians experience every night.
“This experience for me highlights just how important the work we do at the AHO is. At the AHO, we strive to improve people’s lives through housing and this experience has really highlighted for me the plight of Aboriginal people,” said Shane.
Shane described the sleepout as ‘a long night, tossing and turning, trying to get comfortable.”
“You’re dozing in and out of sleep, and any little noise wakes you.
“My reflection is on the people who don’t sleep for fear of their safety. They probably stay awake most of the night and try to sleep somewhere safe during the day.”
Shane is determined to look at what else the AHO can do to put an end to homelessness, especially amongst the Aboriginal community.
“I’m questioning what we can do better to improve and support people so they don’t actually get to the point where they become homeless. Especially someone who is living in housing and gets evicted and they can’t go live with family, where do they go to.”
The AHO is focused on delivering better housing choices for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and is committed to helping those in crisis – including domestic violence, mental illness and homelessness.
“In general, demand for housing outstrips supply. Governments will never be able to fund the amount of houses we need, so we must look at innovative ways to bring more affordable housing to the market,” said Shane.
Watch Shane's reflection of the CEO Sleepout in full here.
The AHO is pleased to announce the new director leadership team. There are three new directors who will commence on the 7th, 21st, and 28th of September respectively.
Director Strategic Finance & Asset Management
Simon Newport is a highly talented and experienced senior executive finance professional with significant expertise across the construction, infrastructure and development industries spanning over 20 years.
He is a Fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in Australia and has demonstrated success within the private and public sector with specialist expertise in strategic financial and general leadership, contract and client negotiation, financial analysis and change management,
Simon joined FACS in early 2013 as Director of Finance – AHO, working with the Executive Team, FACS and Treasury to provide strategic and operational support to deliver accountability and transparency to the AHO. He is thrilled that he will be continuing the journey with the AHO in this new role as he is totally committed to the vision and reform strategy to further improve the lives of their stakeholders – the Aboriginal Tenants.
Director Housing Client Services
Nick Sabel is an experienced, respected and highly effective leader, who brings proven expertise at executive level as the CEO of Wentworth Community Housing where he instigated specific targets to house more Aboriginal people (including management of AHO-owned properties).
Having over 23 years’ experience of human services in both community and government sectors, Nick has extensive knowledge of the challenges faced by clients within Social and Community Housing and has focused his career on driving opportunities to meet these challenges through improving levels of service and community engagement.
Nick brings a passionate, ethical and authentic approach to harnessing organisational capability and demonstrating a strong commitment to social justice and truly making a difference to the lives of disadvantaged sectors of the community. His goal is to continue to contribute as a strong player in the human services sector and deliver innovative solutions and opportunities to AHO Tenants which is totally aligned with the vision and strategy of the AHO.
Director Policy Planning and Design Innovation
Mina Podbereski brings over 19 years’ experience in various senior executive positions with a number of State and Commonwealth departments, not for profit and private sector organisations.
She has spent the last four and a half years as the Regional Director for NSW/ACT at Comcare a Commonwealth Regulator for Work Health and Safety with responsibility for three national Portfolios and been instrumental in the development of the policies and programs and stakeholder training and capacity building related to those Portfolios.
Previously she was the State Manager for Child Support Agency ACT and NSW where she was instrumental in developing a number of Indigenous staff networks and specific services for Indigenous clients nationally.
Mina holds a Masters in Public Policy combined with qualifications in Social Work and Government investigations. She is passionate about ensuring social justice is delivered and her career has been focused on achieving this in partnership with community groups and other stakeholders.
AHO Chief Executive Shane Hamilton was recently interviewed by NITV/SBS about racism as it relates to social housing. He was also asked about the future direction for the AHO.
Nyoka Boney, aged 20 and Jessica Clark, 19, found their independence thanks to the Aboriginal Housing Office’s Employment Related Accommodation (ERA) program.
The ERA program provides shared or family accommodation for Aboriginal people with a connection to remote NSW who want to move to a regional centre to take up work or study.
The girls shared a three bedroom ERA property in Dubbo that was offered to them to so they could complete the Indigenous Police Recruitment Our Way Delivery (IPROWD) Training Program at Dubbo TAFE. The IPROWD training program assists Aboriginal people to gain entry into the NSW Police Force and is the result of a partnership between the Australian Government, the NSW Police Force, TAFE NSW and Charles Sturt University.
After completing Year 12, Jessica moved from Warren to Dubbo to complete the IPROWD course on the advice of her Aboriginal Advisor at Warren Central High School.
“I’m the eldest of four kids and when I told my family what I planned to do, they were shocked. They didn’t think I’d do anything with my life, but now they’ve seen what I’ve achieved and are supportive and proud of me,” said Jessica.
Nyoka, who also completed Year 12, previously lived with her Mum and 12 other family members and had a very different reaction from her family, “my Mum was all for it and she was hoping I’d get a placement even further away to make it harder for me, and really teach me to stand on my own two feet,” she said.
“It’s a great opportunity and has made a real difference to my life. I’ve learnt to manage money, buy my own food and cook for myself. It’s made me more independent.
“The course was tough, but got us ready for the Police Force. It’s a very good course and Peter Gibbs (IPROWD mentor) puts his heart into the course and gives it 100%. He makes us want to become police officers even more!” continued Nyoka.
Jessica said, “I found moving from home an enjoyable thing because I found independence, so it’s wonderful. It has made me more mature and grow up a bit so I can look after myself.
“I’ve learnt how to use money and save my money more, and I’ve learnt to cook!” she said.
Asked what advice they would pass on to others thinking of leaving home to complete the IPROWD training program Nyoka said, “It’s a great opportunity even if you don’t want to become a police officer. It’s a great course that lets you do other things, like become a security guard.
“It can be a bit scary at times, going from a house full of people all the time, to just one other. When I lived with Mum, I wouldn’t have wanted to move away to the Police Academy, but now that I’ve lived on my own, I’m up for it.”
Jessica added, “The course was wonderful, I really did love it. The best part was the theory leading up to getting into the Police Academy. TAFE became part of my everyday routine and I couldn’t go without it. My advice would be to learn to use a washing machine – I had no clue how to wash clothes!
“Our ERA house was very nice and huge and I got along really well with my housemate.”
The girls recently completed their IPROWD course and had their graduation ceremony. While they are both currently employed, they are awaiting admittance into the NSW Police Academy in Goulburn and we wish them every success.
Foundations for Success is a new guide for social housing providers working with Aboriginal people. To get up to speed with the guide register now for a learning session – places are limited so hurry!
The guide was developed in consultation with public housing, community housing and Aboriginal community housing staff. The guide proposes a flexible client-centred approach to improving housing outcomes for Aboriginal clients and is an invaluable tool for all social housing providers.
The need for change
- Aboriginal households exit public/AHO housing at twice the rate of non-Aboriginal households and have significantly shorter average tenancy length
- Over 60 per cent of exiting Aboriginal households exiting in one year are families with children
- Almost 60 per cent of Aboriginal households who exited in a year returned for multiple assistances within three years
This pattern of repeat assistance leads to poor housing outcomes for clients and significant financial costs to social housing providers due to property turn over and ongoing assistances.
Part 1 - Principles for working with Aboriginal people and communities
- Flexible approach to work with clients
- Accessible and culturally appropriate access and service points
- Services need to be responsive and timely
- Solutions need to be holistic and take into account diversity and complexity of issues and needs
- Responses need to be participatory and client focused
Part 2 – How principles apply across tenancy phases
- Application and pre-allocation of social housing
- Allocation and tenancy start up
- Managing emerging issues
- Tenancy exits
The guide is aligned to other FACS initiatives including:
- FACS Statement of Commitment to Aboriginal People the FACS Service Charter for Aboriginal clients and the Aboriginal Cultural Inclusion Framework 2015–2018
- Going Home Staying Home reforms implemented across Specialist Homelessness Services
- Focus on vulnerable households under the draft Social Housing Policy
Where to get more information
If you have questions about the guide or you would like to know more about our learning sessions, please contact our team at firstname.lastname@example.org.
12 November 2014
Exciting news! We have a new permanent Chief Executive for the Aboriginal Housing Office of NSW who will start with us on 24 November.
An Aboriginal man whose family are the Waka Waka people of the South Burnett region of Queensland, has been selected following an open search of candidates from around Australia.
Shane is an experienced leader and manager and comes to us from his current role as WA and SA State Manager of Community Housing Limited, a sizeable national community housing provider.
He’s previously worked as Social Housing Coordinator and General Manager for the Department of Housing in WA, where he was responsible for delivering the national building stimulus. Prior to that he was Executive Director of the Aboriginal Housing and Infrastructure Directorate in the same department. Shane began his public service career in corrective services and held various management positions in correctional institutions across Queensland, Victoria and WA.
We have started the hard work of getting the AHO to a better place and strengthening our relationship with the Aboriginal community housing sector, and now Shane will help take the organisation to the next level.
Link2home commenced 1 July 2014
Link2home, the new statewide homelessness information and referral telephone service has now commenced.
- Provides information about local services,
- Conduct assessment as to what kind of help people need, as well as
- Make referrals to homelessness services across NSW.
It's part of the Going Home Staying Home reforms announced last month.
It brings together several homelessness telephone services including
- Homeless Persons Information Centre,
- Y Connect, and the
- After Hours Temporary Accommodation line and is being delivered by the Housing Contact Centre.
The service is for people who are homeless
Or, those who are worried they will become homeless, as well as for advocates acting on a person's behalf.
Link2home will work in partnership with Specialist Homelessness Services across NSW to provide the best response for clients.
Hours of Operation
24 hours a day, 7 days a week, every day of the year
- 9:00am to 10:00pm
Link2home provides callers with information, assessments and referrals to homelessness support and accommodation services across NSW.
- 10:00pm to 9:00am
Link2home provides information and assessment only and will refer to emergency services if required.
Entries close 5.00pm on 31 July 2015
The FACS HSC Youth Scholarship Program assists eligible young people living in social housing or on the NSW Housing Register to complete their HSC or TAFE equivalent. Two hundred scholarships are on offer, each one consists of a one off payment of $2,000 which is administered by the school or TAFE College on behalf of the student.
The funds can be used to purchase items or services which help the student complete the HSC or TAFE equivalent and can include:
- private tuition or coaching
- text books, workbooks, study guides and stationery
- specialist equipment (eg. art, music or photographic materials)
- course costs (including materials), excursions, study camps, sport
- computer software and printer.
Who can apply for a Housing NSW Youth Scholarship?
Any NSW high school or TAFE college student who meets the following criteria can apply. A student who has previously been awarded a Housing NSW Youth Scholarship cannot apply again.
A student is eligible to apply if he/she:
- is living in social housing in NSW (public housing, Aboriginal housing, community housing) or on the NSW Housing Register (waiting list) or living in crisis accommodation
- is studying in Year 11 or 12 at a NSW high school or TAFE college for the HSC or TAFE equivalent in 2015
- is aged under 25 years on 1 December 2015
- is an Australian citizen or permanent resident
- does not earn an income higher than the NSW social housing eligibility limits (if earning an income).
How to apply for a Housing NSW Youth Scholarship?
To apply for a scholarship, please refer to the documents below:
- Youth Scholarship 2015 Application Form (PDF)
- Youth Scholarship 2015 Guidelines to Application Form (PDF)
- Youth Scholarship 2015 Fact Sheet (PDF)
- Youth Scholarship 2015 Fact Sheet for Education & Support Staff (PDF)
Find out more about the FACS HSC Youth Scholarship Program 2015
7 April 2014
Minister Pru Goward announced today that an amnesty will be held from 7 April - 31 May 2014 to allow public housing tenants and approved household members to voluntarily report any undisclosed income, financial assets or property ownership to Housing NSW.
- People that make a report during the amnesty will be protected from prosecution and will not have to pay back rent.
- Only cases where property ownership makes a person ineligible for housing assistance will a person be expected to leave their property.
View the Minister's video message
For more details, please see the Housing NSW website.
The AHO has recently achieved some significant milestones in its National Partnership Agreement on Remote Indigenous Housing (NPARIH). The 28 February 2015 NPARIH milestone is worth a total of $19.546M. In summary the AHO achieved:
• 22 new houses completed or underway and 2 new houses acquired
• 277 refurbished houses completed or underway
• A total of 1435 tenants reached via Tenant Support and Education Programs (TSEP) – a Property and Tenancy Management (PTM) milestone
• 10 Employment Related Accommodation (ERA) dwellings completed, acquired or underway.
The AHO is committed to continuing to reach these milestones to ensure we continue to provide Aboriginal people with safe, secure and affordable housing.
The AHO Newsletter is packed full of news, developments and community stories and will keep you up to date on the latest news and developments from the AHO.
We are always looking for interesting content, particularly from our Providers, so if you have something you'd like to share, please get in contact with us!