CENTRAL COAST HOUSING
Ms MARIE ANDREWS
(Gosford) [12.29 p.m.]: On 30 September 2009 I officiated at the opening of the new Central Coast office of Compass Housing Services Company Ltd at Erina. Compass is a partner agency with the New South Wales Office of Community Housing, an office within Housing NSW. Compass is all about providing social and support accommodation for those people who are eligible for housing with Housing NSW. Present at the opening were Compass Chief Executive Officer Greg Budworth, Director Sue Dark and Manager Central Coast Lena Jenson, together with other staff at the Erina office, staff from Housing NSW, Compass tenants from Gorokan and Tumbi Umbi and Gosford City Councillor Laurie Maher, who is also the chief executive officer of Coast Shelter, a non-government agency providing emergency accommodation to hundreds of people each year.
Compass is a not-for-profit corporate organisation established in 1984 with its head office at Hamilton, New South Wales and with a number of branch offices within the State, including one at Broken Hill. The principal activities of Compass are to provide social housing in Newcastle, Lake Macquarie, Scone and now the Central Coast. That is achieved through two major housing programs: the Community Tenancy Scheme, funded under the Commonwealth State Housing Agreement, and the Federal Government's Affordable Housing Rental Program. Currently Compass manages more than 1,000 properties, and with a greater investment by the State and Commonwealth governments in community housing, that number is set to increase quite significantly in the near future.
The Australian Government's nation-building economic stimulus plan will see a $2 billion investment by the Commonwealth Government to build more than 6,000 new social housing homes in New South Wales. I am pleased to say that a number of those will be built within the Gosford electorate. On top of that the New South Wales Government will invest $1 billion to build an additional 3,000 homes. As one of the Central Coast State members I am extremely pleased about this massive investment by the Commonwealth and New South Wales governments, because insufficient availability of social and affordable housing has been a burning issue within the Central Coast region for many years. We all recognise that having secure accommodation is essential in order to have a good standard of living and a feeling of wellbeing.
Compass has seen significant growth in recent years, yet it still manages to maintain its high standards. In 2008 Compass was the recipient of the New South Wales community housing award for outstanding performance in all areas of overall governance, management and tenant outcomes. Further, Compass also received an award for outstanding performance in tenant participation, tenant service and the excellence award for annual reporting. Those awards speak volumes for the high standards that Compass has set for ensuring that all its tenants are properly looked after. It also reflects the remarkable success Compass has had in receiving a grant of $1.3 million to develop affordable housing in the Cessnock area and successfully tendering to develop affordable housing in Wallsend.
Compass has also been given preferred status for Housing NSW developments in the Hunter and Central Coast regions. Compass is the recipient of the majority of stock transfers from public to community housing in the Hunter and Central Coast regions over the next 10 years. I hasten to add that the reason for this stock transfer is not because Housing NSW was not doing a good job; Housing NSW employees do an excellent job in very difficult circumstances but the fact is that community housing organisations, like Compass, with a greater accumulation of stock are able to borrow funds, thus enabling them to build more houses and thereby help address the long housing waiting lists.
These are exciting times for housing, with both the Federal and New South Wales governments placing more emphasis on, and injecting greater funding into, housing programs. In addition, the New South Wales Government has just made it easier for tenants on the waiting list with Housing NSW to be also registered with Compass and other social housing providers. From April 2010 a new program called Housing Pathways has made it easier, simpler and fairer for people to apply for and be matched with housing assistance. In the past prospective tenants would have to lodge separate applications with Housing NSW and each community housing provider. Under the Housing Pathways program, those applying for social housing will need only to fill out a single application form to apply for housing owned by Housing NSW, participating community housing providers or Aboriginal housing owned by the Aboriginal Housing Office. I am pleased to acknowledge also that Gosford City Council has an affordable housing policy, and well done Gosford City Council for taking that approach to a very important social issue.
Mr TONY STEWART
(Bankstown—Parliamentary Secretary) [12.34 a.m.]: I commend the member for Gosford for bringing to the attention of the House the great work of Compass in providing community housing in her electorate of Gosford and in the wider communities. It is clear that we are in a real period of opportunity for public, social and affordable housing, which would not have occurred without the member for Gosford's great advocacy on behalf of her Gosford constituents. She has always banged the door of Ministers to make sure that the best opportunities are provided via State assistance and funding to her constituents, and this is just another example of that, in partnership with the Federal Government.
I also congratulate the Federal Government on the economic stimulus program, which has copped some criticism, most of which is totally unwarranted, but I have seen the results in infrastructure in our communities. In this case the assistance through this stimulus program has provided opportunities for those who probably would not be able to get into suitable housing in their lifetime. I congratulate the member for Gosford and particularly the Compass group for their work. I am sure we will see great benefits from it in the future.