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Volunteer serving a customer at Compass' Shack Shop
29 Jul 2020

The Shack Shop reopens at Tumbi Umbi for low cost food items

Central Coast social housing tenants and other members of the community are again able to access low cost grocery items with Compass Housing Services reopening The Shack Shop at its The Meeting Place community hub in Tumbi Umbi.

Compass had to close the service, which is largely staffed by volunteers, as a health and safety measure during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Hub’s community participation officer, Maureen Hunter, said the shop provides low cost staple foods and frozen goods made available through Food Bank. Ms Hunter said free Second Bite bakery items are available most days and they sometimes have some free seasonal fruit and vegetables.

The Shack Shop is open Monday to Friday from 9.30am.

“We wanted to be able to resume this important local service,” Ms Hunter said.

“Being able to access affordable groceries and fruit and vegetables helps reduce people’s living costs to free up money for other living expenses such as rent and utilities,” she said.

“We also have lots of low-cost personal hygiene, washing and cleaning products.”

“It also encourages tenants to cook and eat well, rather than relying on take away foods.”

“Our partnership with Food Bank and Coles’ Second Bite and our amazing volunteers makes the service possible.”

Ms Hunter said that the Shack Shop is ensuring it is COVID-19 safe to protect customers and staff. Only two customers are allowed in the shop at any one time. Temperature checks and hand sanitiser application is mandatory upon entering the shop.

She said the Hub is working to reintroduce other community services and events in the coming months, subject to Covid-19 restrictions.

The Meeting Place is an award-winning community hub established in 2011 by Compass in partnership Housing NSW. It is designed to foster a more inclusive environment to diminish barriers between social housing and the general community. It won the national 2018 PowerHousing Award for tenant engagement and social inclusion. Compass has replicated the model in Broken Hill.


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My Place Property Maintenance team in front to the work van
27 Jul 2020

Compass Housing property maintenance facility to provide local jobs

There is some good news on the job front in the Hunter with locally based housing provider, Compass Housing, setting up its own property maintenance facility in Beresfield.

The My Place Property Maintenance facility will ultimately create 40 permanent Compass Housing jobs. Last week, Compass placed adverts for 18 positions covering plumbers, electricians, carpenters and cleaners.

Staff at the facility will service and maintain 2,600 social, affordable and disability housing homes that Compass manages in the Hunter and on the Central Coast from October 2020. It will also be the headquarters for staff who will be employed to service another 1,800 homes in Cessnock and Taree for which Compass will take over responsibility for maintaining in June 2021.

Compass Housing already has one property maintenance facility in Muswellbrook that employs seven people.

Chief operating officer, Lisa Tierney, said with figures showing Hunter unemployment rising due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, the in-house facility provides some good opportunities for local people to work with a leading organisation whose work benefits vulnerable people in the community.

Ms Tierney said the plan was to employ more people after the initial 12-month establishment phase including apprentices to be supervised by its trade qualified staff. Compass will target those apprenticeships to young people from disadvantaged backgrounds with a focus on engaging indigenous youth.

“If you are looking for opportunities to grow and develop your skills and qualifications while making a difference in the community then Compass Housing wants to hear from you,” Ms Tierney said.

Compass Housing is an award-winning employer,” she said.

“We offer competitive wages, flexible work arrangements, access to not for profit salary packaging and ongoing professional development including access to an annual training allowance and paid study leave.”

She said bringing all property maintenance services in-house will generate savings that can be put back into property upgrades to provide better homes for Compass’ tenants.

“As we now either own or have many properties under 20-year leases, we have more certainty to invest in our own property maintenance infrastructure and workforce rather than using temporary, outsourced, contract arrangements which can be expensive.”

The latest Bureau of Statistics figures show more than 40,000 jobs have been lost in the Hunter since the start of the pandemic in February. The jobless rate for June rose by 1 percentage point in Newcastle and Lake Macquarie on the previous month to 11.1 per cent, while in the Hunter Valley, the rate rose from 5.9 to 7.4 per cent. The youth unemployment figure in Newcastle is 24.8 per cent. Experts say the effective unemployment rates are higher than the official figures.

Compass Housing is a Tier 1, not for profit, community housing provider and an NDIS Specialist Disability Accommodation provider. It manages almost 7000 properties in NSW and Queensland and is continuing to experience growth in operations.



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Teenage girl studying
23 Jul 2020

Free tutoring and mentoring available through Grow A Star

A helping hand is available for high school students in the Newcastle LGA who did it tough while home schooling during the Covid-19 lockdown.

Compass Housing Services’ Grow A Star program has received $14,700 under the City of Newcastle’s “Boost Our City” community sector grants program to support its plan to offer students free tutoring and mentoring support for up to 10 weeks.

Expressions of interest are now open. Parents or carers can apply through their school or by calling 0429 358 426.

Grow a Star program co-ordinator, Shane Marshall, will connect selected students to local, professional, tutoring services. He and other program staff will provide mentoring to add another layer of support for the young person, to boost the young person’s self-esteem and health and well-being.

Mr Marshall said learning from home was challenging for some students, particularly for those already experiencing disadvantage.

“We want to help students who have lost some motivation or slipped back to return to or improve their level of learning,” Mr Marshall said.

“This support is open to any high school student living in or going to school in the Newcastle LGA, not just Compass tenants,” he said.

Mr Marshall said using local tutors will give work to people who may also be struggling as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Meanwhile, the Grow a Star program has separately helped eight social housing students from across NSW and Queensland with a free laptop. The laptops were provided to students who did not have access to technology to help them during schooling from home. The students were from Weston, Singleton, Dubbo, Broken Hill, Springfield (Queensland), Ropes Crossing (Sydney), Singleton Heights and Taree.

Grow a Star is a youth mentoring and scholarship program, founded and managed by Compass, that helps young people from disadvantaged backgrounds overcome the financial or generational obstacles that are preventing them from following their dreams.

To find out more or to support the Grow A Star program visit www.compasshousing.org/community-programs/grow-star

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14 Jul 2020

Compass Housing tenants benefit from Muswellbrook Council Community Grant

Compass Housing Services' tenants and their gardens will benefit from a $2,000 community grant from Muswellbrook Shire Council.

The grant will provide gardening equipment for volunteers to assist residents in maintaining their properties in South Muswellbrook and other areas of the community.

Compass is one of nine groups to share in almost $14,000 worth of funding. The other groups are:

  • Early Links Inclusion Support Service
  • Baerami Memorial School of Arts Hall
  • Denman Little Athletics 
  • McCully's Gap Hall Inc.
  • Merton Living Limited 
  • St Martin's Guild (St Martin's Community Hall, Martindale)
  • Sunnyfield Community Services Hub
  • Wanaruah Local Aboriginal Land Council (on behalf of the Wanaruah NAIDOC Committee, Muswellbrook)

Compass would like to thank Muswellbrook Shire Council for its support in creating better communities to benefit local residents.



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08 Jul 2020


Compass Housing Services is one of seven Hunter-region-based institutions to have founded a task force to advocate and drive the local adoption of the United Nations’ (UN) Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The group of businesses, not-for-profits and government bodies – Compass Housing Services, Port of Newcastle, City of Newcastle, Hunter Water, Kumalie, Port Waratah Coal Services and University of Newcastle – have committed to raising awareness and actively implementing the SDGs in the region.

The establishment of the Task Force follows the UN’s launch a decade of action to deliver the global goals.

Compass has taken a lead role in advocating for sustainability nationally and internationally particularly through the promotion of the implementation of the UN SDGs and New Urban Agenda (NUA). Group Managing Director, Greg Budworth, is Vice President of the UN Habitat General Assembly of Partners.

Initiatives include:

  • integrating the SDGs into Compass’ strategic plan, business systems and its People, Place, Performance (PPP) programs to help deliver sustainable tenancies, social regeneration and increase social and economic participation
  • aligning business operations to the SDGs to play its part in ending poverty, protecting the planet and ensuring prosperity for all
  • giving all staff have KPIs on sustainability and waste and emissions reduction
  • hosting the International Congress of Affordable Living in Sustainable Cities in November 2018 and co-organising other NUA and SDG events 
  • achieving  Gold Partner Status in the NSW Government’s Sustainability Advantage Recognition Scheme
  • the appointment of a Sustainability Manager who was named 2019 sustainability champion in the NSW Government’s Sustainability Advantage Recognition Scheme.


Sustainability is at the heart of Compass’ operations because it makes good business sense. Underpinning the commitment to sustainability is a belief that safe, affordable and adequate housing is a basic human right. 

Compass works with its tenants help them to participate in  building resilient, sustainable and inclusive communities.

The New Urban Agenda (NUA) is the outcome document from the UN Habitat lll Conference held in Quito in 2016.  Australia is one of 193 nations to adopt the 2015 SDGs and one of 167 signatory nations to the NUA.

Information on how the SDGs and the New Urban Agenda align is available at https://www.sdgsnewurbanagenda.com.

Task Force members are sharing resources and are running a webinar series. These are open to anyone interesting in advancing or learning more about SDGs. Compass is calling on other Hunter organisation to join the Task Force. For more information visit https://huntersdgtaskforce.org/join-the-network




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