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20 Aug 2020

NEW HOMES FOR VULNERABLE PEOPLE IN WALLSEND

A dozen families have received the keys to their brand new homes in Wallsend, after the construction of two social and affordable housing complexes developed by Compass Housing under the NSW Government’s $1.1 billion Social and Affordable Housing Fund (SAHF).

Compass Housing’s Lyndall Robertshaw took Minister for Families, Communities and Disability Services, Gareth Ward and Member for Wallsend Sonia Hornery to visit a completed project in the Newcastle suburb of Wallsend to meet a resident of one of the new homes.

Darren Green, a single dad, is one of the new tenants who has received his keys and has moved in. The new home has space for his teenage son to stay.

”I’m incredibly grateful for the support I’ve received from Compass and am proud to call this place home,” Darren said.

In total, Compass Housing is constructing almost 500 new properties across the Hunter and Central Coast under the SAHF program. Thirty-four of those homes will be located in Wallsend.

Ms Robertshaw said Compass is extremely proud to be involved with the Social and Affordable Housing Fund initiative.

She said a lack of affordable housing options for low to moderate income people is a serious problem right across the country.

“The NSW Government is really leading the charge when it comes to new and innovative ways to deliver more social and affordable housing,” Ms Robertshaw said.

She said one of the most exciting things about SAHF is that it includes a tailored support coordination service to help tenants maximise their economic and social participation.”

“We’ve always said that community housing is about more than just providing homes, it’s also about creating empowered tenants and sustainable communities.”

Mr Ward said the NSW Government has the largest social housing building program of any State or Territory in nation.

“This project is an excellent example of the work the NSW Government is doing to boost the supply of social and affordable housing in the Hunter,” Mr Ward said.

“A strong pipeline of new homes is helping reduce housing stress and is supporting some of the most vulnerable people in the community.

“It’s wonderful to see these modern new homes and it’s even more exciting to meet the people and hear the stories of people getting a fresh start.”

SAHF is a key initiative of Future Directions of Social Housing in NSW, the NSW Government’s plan to deliver more and better social housing across the state and is on track to deliver more than 3,400 homes, with close to 2,800 properties completed or under construction.

 

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19 Aug 2020

Specialist Disability Accommodation helps people live in the community

Modern, purpose built, specialist disability accommodation (SDA) is providing people with a high level of disability to enjoy living in the community rather than in institutions.

NSW Minister for Families, Communities and Disability Services, The Hon Gareth Ward MP, was recently in the Hunter, inspecting one of 65 new group homes being built as part of its Hunter Residences program.

The purpose-built, five-bedroom home at Morisset will be a new home for residents transferring from the NSW Government’s soon to be closed Kanangra centre. 

Compass Housing Services is part of the Home4Life consortia which is financing, building and managing the homes across NSW for 325 residents who are also transferring from the Stockton and Tomaree centres.

Compass Housing Services Group Managing Director, Greg Budworth, accompanied Minister Ward on the inspection.

Mr Budworth said safe, affordable, housing is a fundamental human right.

“We believe people with disabilities have a right to live in a community, rather than an institution, and to participate fully in that community,” Mr Budworth said.

“This is a new way of delivering contemporary, high quality, specialist disability accommodation,” he said.

Mr Budworth said, with more than 200 residents having already transferred to their new home for life, he has seen how living in these purpose-built homes is changing those residents lives for the better.

During the visit Mr Ward said that smaller living arrangements provide opportunities for people with disability to participate more in the community, gain greater choice and control and receive tailored supports.

“Residents who move into this new home will have access to accommodation that meets their individual needs,” Mr Ward said.

“This not only marks the start of the transition into their new home, but the start of the next exciting stage of their life,” he said.

The other Home4Life partners are BlueCHP who has designed and built the homes and LightHouse Infrastructure has helped to finance the program. Compass will manage and maintain the properties. The Government has selected six Supported Independent Living (SIL) organisations to provide, highly specialised, 24-hour support at the group homes.

Compass has some limited vacancies in the new group homes, which are available to people who have SDA in their National Disability Insurance Scheme plan.

Mr Budworth said Compass has a long and successful history of managing homes for people with high and complex levels of support. It is one of the largest SDA providers in Australia, managing around 1070 SDA places.

Compass is a Newcastle-based, Tier 1, not for profit community housing provider and an NDIS Specialist Disability Accommodation provider. It manages almost 7,000 properties in NSW and Queensland, including properties for people with disabilities.


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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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