Australasian Housing Institute

Aboriginal Housing Master Class

Supporting a sustainable housing sector for Aboriginal people

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Bringing together senior housing professionals whose primary focus is housing Aboriginal people and leaders from mainstream housing providers extending their service to Aboriginal people, the events in this series focus on enabling discussion about real solutions for supporting a sustainable housing sector for Aboriginal people. Each Master Class comprises a program of keynote and speaker presentations, and participatory sessions focussed on a range of themes:

  • Aboriginal housing design
  • Aboriginal housing management practices
  • Social impact investment for Aboriginal housing
  • Sustaining Aboriginal tenancies through partnerships 


Feedback from Master Class participants

  • It's a splendid opportunity to listen, learn and impart ideas to facilitate the adoption of methodologies that work and disregard those that did not work effectively and efficiently.
  • A great opportunity to understand the operational and strategic challenges facing other jurisdictions.
  • I will take away the good example of Aboriginal housing organisations operating in NSW and Victoria with the knowledge that it can be done.
  • Was a great opportunity to network and gain greater insight into perceptions and considerations of other services. 



Following the tremendous success of the two previous Master Classes in 2016 and 2017, the third event of the Aboriginal Housing Master Class series was held on 9-10 May 2018 in Adelaide.

The Australasian Housing Institute co-hosted an Aboriginal Housing Masterclass with NSW Aboriginal Housing Office (AHO).

More than 60 participants from both remote and urban areas of Australia attended the 2 day event in Adelaide.

We heard from a diverse range of practitioners, CEO’s, program managers, and architects from the community, not-for-profits, for-profits, and government agencies. The speakers were passionate advocates for best practice and generously shared their knowledge and experience from many corners of the globe.

Participants heard about the successes and failures from the past as well as new and innovative approaches for the future around engagement with communities, design, planning, and the logistics of remote communities.

The Masterclass was an opportunity to bring leaders from the Aboriginal Housing sector together to share information, highlight national and international learnings and address some of the big issues facing the community.

This was the 3rd Aboriginal Housing Masterclass and the participants now have a wider network of likeminded professionals to touch base with, as well as new ideas to take back to their organisations and communities of interest.

Julie Blake, Chief Executive Officer, Westside Housing Association & SA AHI Director

We would like to thank our speakers for their valuable contributions:

  • Hon Rev Dr Lynn Arnold AO FAICD | Ambassador | Reconciliation South Australia
  • Shane Hamilton | Chief Executive & Executive Director | Aboriginal Housing Office NSW
  • Jude Allen | Senior Manager, Remote and Far West Regions I Remote Aboriginal Housing Strategy and Services | Housing SA 
  • Olive Bennell | Manager Community Integration Partnerships | Anglicare SA
  • Jamie Chalker | CEO | Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD), NT
  • Sam French | Life Coach and Peer Researcher Co-ordinator | Aboriginal Housing Victoria
  • Sally Langton | Former CEO | Central Australian Affordable Housing
  • John McBryde | CEO | Central Australian Affordable Housing
  • Adam Schickerling | National Disability Reform Manager | Synapse
  • Kieran Wong | Director | Cox Architecture
  • Bruce Woodhouse | Project Manager | SGCH 
  • Dr Courtney Wright | Research Fellow | Synapse Australia Limited



On 16-17 May 2017 in Sydney, the Australasian Housing Institute co-hosted an Aboriginal Housing Master Class with NSW Aboriginal Housing Office (AHO). 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. It was the second Aboriginal Housing Masterclass and the sixth in the AHI's Masterclass series.


Fifty participants from around Australia attended the two day event in Sydney. We heard from a wide range of expert practitioners who shared their knowledge about many aspects of delivering successful and sustainable Aboriginal Housing. Presenters included architects, researchers, CEO's, housing managers, tenancy officers and tenants. The topics ranged from appropriate design principles, community engagement, tenant support, and community participation in decision making. 
Round table discussions were conducted to address some key challenges and to share success stories. A great deal of enthusiasm and positive feedback for the Aboriginal Housing Masterclass again, and planning has already begun to conduct a third event next year. The full report from the event will be available in the next edition of HousingWORKS.     



On 8-9 September 2016 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.”

Aboriginal Housing Office Chief Executive Shane Hamilton

The Aboriginal Housing Masterclass was a wonderful success, with over 50 participants across the two days representing nearly every  Australian state and territory. The presentations over the two days raised many issues, highlighted the challenges, offered many insights, and shared many success stories. There were key 'success themes' that ran through all of the presentations, including cultural respect and understanding, engagement with local communities, and the importance of participation in decision making at a local level. There were also some great learnings about the need to achieve efficiencies of scale, but also building organisational capacity without being dependent on scale to do so.

The other highlight of the workshop was a series of 'roundtable' discussions. These group conversations gave rise to a vision for the future of Aboriginal housing and some great ideas about specific things that we can do individually and collectively to get there. The workshop ended on a high with a collective commitment to the workshop becoming an ongoing forum for discussions and future workshops to develop policy positions that will  inform the next round of NPARIH negotiations in 2017.

A productive and energising two days, yet we have just scratched the surface!

Andrew Davis, AHI President

We would like to thank our speakers for their valuable contributions:

  • Jane Bender | Chief Executive Officer | Gunida Gunya Aboriginal Corporation
  • Steve Bevington | Managing Director | Community Housing Limited
  • Col Dillon | Former QLD Police Inspector
  • Sam Jeffries | Chairperson | Murdi Paaki Regional Assembly
  • Shane Hamilton | Chief Executive & Executive Director | Aboriginal Housing Office
  • Sally Langton | Chief Executive Officer | Central Australian Affordable Housing Company
  • John McBryde | Operations Manager | Central Australian Affordable Housing Company
  • Suzanne Naden | Chief Executive Officer | Bungree Aboriginal Association Inc
  • Darren Smith | Director, Strategy and Performance | Aboriginal Housing Victoria
  • Bruce Woodhouse | Projects Manager | Group Business Initiatives | SGCH


We would like to thank the Aboriginal Housing Office NSW for partnering with us on this event.

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