Welcome to our 2020 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

Roberta Buchanan

Chair Roberta Buchanan

Lesley Drudge

CEO Lesley Dredge

John Lennon’s lyric ‘Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans’ perfectly sums up the 2019/20 financial year.

When the calendar flipped over to July 1, 2019, we had no inkling that our best laid plans were about to be upended; first by the devastating bushfires that tore through Victoria and New South Wales, and then by the global COVID-19 pandemic.

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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 2019/20 annual report:

Our membership

*As at June 30, 2020

CHIA Vic represents more than

Breakdown of our
full membership

Housing Associations Housing Providers Independent non-regulated
housing providers
10 28 15

We also have 23 Associate Members and
23 Aboriginal Housing Co-operatives affiliated through
Aboriginal Housing Victoria.

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 energy efficiency, prior to advocating on their behalf. Meetings during the year discussed industry-specific issues such as Portable Long Service Leave and COVID-19 related matters, including preparing for stimulus tenders.

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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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Harness & strengthen capacity

Quantifying and expanding the capacity of the community housing sector to be a significant solution to the issue of undersupply of social housing was a theme during the financial year with CHIA Vic releasing three key pieces of work; looking at what the sector had delivered in the past; ways to ensure its labour pool needs were met now and into the future; and, a Shovel-ready survey to see what projects the sector had on its books, ready to deliver if funding needs were met.

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

In addition to disseminating the Capability Framework with the aim of having our member organisations embed it into their day-to-day business, CHIA Vic completed a training and development review that outlined the current and emerging workforce training needs based on national and international trends. It considered current industry training offers, accredited and non-accredited, identified gaps and tested ideas and recommendations.

As a result we implemented our induction program and trialled elearning. This piece of work will guide our work in this space post pandemic.

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CHIA Vic’s training program is continually evolving informed by consultation with members and other stakeholders, evaluations of past courses, an analysis of the critical issues and changes affecting the sector, including COVID-19.

During 2019/20, we ran 95 training courses, attended by 1,120 people.

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

"Having just moved into the sector 3 months ago, it was the best time spent to help me learn."

"It was concise, informative and all the key issues covered. It will help me enormously in my role."

"This course is a “must” for anyone new to social housing"

"Thanks for the training, it was really relevant to our needs."

NDIS Training

NDIS Training

In recognition of the huge impact of the National Disability Insurance Scheme on our sector and tenants, CHIA Vic created a range of training and resources to assist organisations to make the most of the changes and support tenants who may be eligible for the insurance scheme. This includes free eLearning units on our website, with participants receiving a certificate of completion once they have finished each module.

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

COVID-19 developments

A major focus for CHIA Vic since March 2020 has been ensuring the community housing sector is on top of developments relating to the COVID-19 pandemic and best practice in mitigating risks for tenants and staff.

This support has taken a variety of forms, such as developing and distributing resources including those with a specific focus on risk mitigation in high-risk facilities and working with the sector and DHHS to identify high-risk facilities so that preventative assessments could occur to assist in improving risk mitigation strategies.

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

CHIA Vic aims to ensure it meets the needs members throughout Victoria through extensive communications, the RTA/VCAT Help Line, the Employee Assistance Program and training. The latter includes our new and free NDIS eLearning modules and our online video training stream that has made it easier for staff in regional and remote areas to attend.

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Support members to explore opportunities for shared procurement and service opportunities

Following on from the success of CHIA Vic’s work with BOOM! on energy efficiency projects, including the development of the BOOM platform with a panel of preapproved suppliers, CHIA Vic began investigating options for progressing to the next stage of work on creating a third party entity to implement energy efficiency upgrades. This is being done in consultation with several large Housing Associations.

Using a grant from the Energy Consumers Australia (ECA), CHIA Vic has had early conversations with a range of stakeholders on their interest in developing a new tariff and energy metering solution to ensure that the benefits of low cost renewable energy can be shared by all. This project could support advocacy to change energy regulations that artificially elevate the installation of rooftop solar rather than other initiatives such as solar farms.

BOOMPower and CHIA Vic completed the development of the BOOM! software platform, which was funded through the New Energy Jobs Fund Round 2 grants. The platform is now available to Victorian members free of charge and is being used by members to assess their properties for solar upgrades as part of the stimulus funding package.

Develop a digital capabilities framework that meets the needs of members

COVID-19 pressed the pause button on many project plans during the year, however it also pushed forward other initiatives, including providing online training options to members. With all face-to-face training cancelled, CHIA Vic’s training was only halted for two weeks before the entire suite of sessions, and more, was made available online. A major effort by Holly Mullaney, our Business Development Officer, who had to not only ensure our trainers were comfortable with presenting online, but had to work with them to create a new suite of courses, such as how to use Zoom, to assist members deal with the rapidly evolving situation.

The pandemic also sped up CHIA Vic’s plans to move our accounting software into the cloud.

Build awareness & trust

CHIA Vic is in constant communication with the sector, our stakeholders and the broader community via a variety of media platforms that complement our regular meetings, trainings and forums. These include our website, social media channels, magazines, monthly eBulletins and other email updates as required.


We produced an autumn and summer edition of our 16-page, full-colour magazine (the COVID-19 outbreak led to the cancellation of our spring edition) detailing industry news, views and innovations.

magazines photo
magazines photo

Email Newsletter

We distributed 10 monthly eBulletins during the year containing news, events, resources, policy changes and career opportunities (click here to subscribe) with our subscribers increasing from 1,170 to 1,435 with a very solid open rate of 32.6 per cent on average, more than MailChimp’s benchmark average of 28.7 per cent. We sent an additional six enewsletters that contained information specific to the RTA or VCAT, and 12 that contained important and time-sensitive information that could not wait for the regular eBulletin, including information on COVID-19.

Media Releases

We promoted media releases during the year on topics ranging from homelessness lessons from Canada to the need to consider energy efficiency in social housing and as part of any stimulus package. Our CEO, Lesley Dredge, was quoted on a number of occasions by journalists in metropolitan and regional Victoria, including on issues including the shortage of social housing in Bendigo. We were also involved in media planning to promote the updated Making Social Housing Work blueprint and assisted in the promotion of the Everybody’s Home campaign.


Use of our website was high during the year, attracting 21,000 users viewing the site 29,000 times, up 135.3 per cent on the previous year, with the pages on Affordable Housing, with information for developers and local governments interested in partnering with community housing organisations, proving to be the most popular.

We added an additional 16 pages to the site on topics including a public-facing COVID-19 page, a members only COVID-19 portal and pages on workforce capability, the updated Making Social Housing Work blueprint, created as part of the Housing Peaks Alliance, and information on the RTA changes.

Clearly articulate the value proposition and build brand recognition at a state and national level by developing a communications strategy that is tailored to key audiences and resourced appropriately

CHIA Vic began collaborating with CHIA National on a project to develop compelling, clear and consistent messaging for the community housing sector to, in part, counteract the confusion that exists around the terminology of social, public, community and affordable housing.

The new narrative aims to reposition the CHIAs as experts in, and champions of, Australians who rent. The project, which will continue in 2020/21, has involved consultancy Essential Media researching messages that cut through the complexities of the sector.

Social media

We greatly increased our social media presence during the year, adding Facebook to our Twitter and LinkedIn platforms to enable CHIA Vic to respond to issues in a timely fashion and via appropriate media for the audience.

This resulted in a huge increase in engagement overall, with LinkedIn engagement up by 81.3% on the previous year.

  • facebook
  • twitter
  • linkedin

Annual report

For the first time last year, CHIA Vic’s annual report went digital with a purpose-built micro-website. The aim was to increase the reach of the report, to assist in increasing the understanding of the sector and CHIA Vic’s role within that. The result was a much more engaging report that was more cost-effective and environmentally friendly, as it reduced printing expenses. The online report was well-received, and it has now been accepted as the best delivery method for CHIA Vic’s annual report into the future.

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

Following the Victorian Government’s 2018 amendments to the Planning and Environment Act 1987, local governments, community housing organisations and developers have been able to negotiate voluntary affordable housing contributions, as part of planning approval processes.

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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’s staff numbers grew in 2019/20 financial year as Jason Perdriau joined the team in the Tenancy & Property role in February. With our veteran VCAT/RTA expert Mark Smoljo working towards retirement, Jason has a background in legal practice and more than 10 years’ experience managing social housing and support services. This has included transitional, long-term and supported housing programs as well as services for people seeking asylum.

Our CEO undertook a study tour to England and Scotland where she met with Government, regulators, peaks and community housing associations. While the size and sophistication of the sectors in both countries dwarf our Australian social housing provision and experience, we face many similar issues and challenges such as a lack of understanding of the value of housing to the economy and other community services, erratic government support, an undersupply of housing and growing homelessness. Contacts made have written articles for our CHIA Vic News and have contributed to policy development.

CHIA Vic’s staff members undertook professional development during the year, including most of the team taking part in an in-house Social Media for Business training session to promote their use of the organisation’s new Facebook channel, as well as the existing Twitter and LinkedIn accounts.

Conduct a review of CHIA Vic’s governance model

A governance review will take place in 2021.

Darren Smith
David Hayward
James King
Chris Karagianis
Roberta Buchanan
Jeanette Large
Michael Deschepper
Trudi Ray
Grant McNeill
Grant McNeil
Steven Morrissey
Stephen Nash
Bevan Warner

Board Members 2019/20

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, Roberta Buchanan; Deputy Chair Jeanette Large; Secretary Trudi Ray; Treasurer Michael Deschepper; and, Ordinary Board Members Stephen Nash (CEHL), Bevan Warner (Launch Housing); Chris Karagianis (Salvation Army), Steven Morrissey (SouthEast Housing Cooperative), Darren Smith (Aboriginal Housing Victoria), Grant McNeill (Community Housing Victoria), James King (Unison) and RMIT Emeritus Professor David Hayward.

We would also like to acknowledge and thank those members who retired at the 2019 AGM: Swinburne Prof Terry Burke, HousingFirst’s Haleh Homaei; Haven Home, Safe’s (formerly Active) Chris Glennen; and Salvation Army’s Shane Austin.

Megan Davidson (formerly HousingFirst) and Elena Mogilevski (formerly St Kilda Community Housing) also contributed as Board Members for part of the 2019/20 financial year.


2020 has been a tumultuous year, with COVID-19 creating a great deal of uncertainty in the Australian community and within our community housing sector. CHIA Vic has not been immune to the challenges arising from the global pandemic and, from a financial perspective, this was most evident with the necessary cancelling of the biennial housing conference scheduled for May 2020. The conference is always well supported and generates a significant surplus and provides an opportunity for CHIA Vic to re-invest in member services.

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 2019/20.

Our 2019/20 Sponsors