Australasian Housing Institute

Innovation in Social Housing Professional Practice Seminar

Exploring new ideas and innovative approaches in social housing

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Like other industries and sectors, social housing faces pressures to innovate and do things differently in order to achieve better outcomes and meet the expectations of governments, stakeholders, tenants and staff.

Seminars in this series seek to expose delegates to advances, modernisations, improvements and originalities in the sector and include both speaker presentations and participatory discussions and to cultivate the sharing of ideas.

Topic areas explored may include:

  • business innovation
  • social enterprises
  • non-traditional revenue streams for housing businesses
  • innovative housing practice
  • innovative partnerships with private sector or NGO
  • innovative financing and funding models
  • innovative housing types. 


Melbourne, 24 August 2017

We are delighted to announce that the next event of the innovation series will return to Melbourne on Thursday, 24 August 2017.


Confirmed speakers:

  • KEYNOTE SPEAKER: Michael Lennon | Managing Director | Housing Choices Australia
  • Sheridan Bruinhout | Director, Homelessness and Justice Services | Melbourne City Mission

  • Peter Danks | Managing Director, EFG and Advisor | The Big Issue and Homes for Homes

  • Heather Holst | Deputy CEO and Director of Services and Property | Launch Housing

  • Jeanette Large | CEO | Women's Property Initiatives (WPI)

  • Jack Panton | General Manager Development | Port Phillip Housing Association (PPHA)


Bronze Sponsor


CHP CPD Points



Sydney, 13 December 2016

Following the successful event in Melbourne in July 2016, the second event was held in Sydney on Tuesday, 13 December 2016. The program for the event included insightful presentations and a showcase session, which will allowed delegates the opportunity to experience and engage with multiple concurrent displays showcasing innovative social housing property development projects.  

Sydney seminar highlighs:

  • Leading innovation in social housing in NSW: implementing new approaches. Paul O’Reilly | Future Directions Executive Director | Family and Community Services
  • Beyond Planning and Construction…Innovations in the transition and support of tenants in Specialised Disability Accommodation. Anne Bryce | CEO | Achieve Australia
  • From housing assets, to housing people: Fixing Australia’s public housing system | Brendan Lyon | CEO | Infrastructure Partnerships Australia

  • Bridge Housing’s Hand Up Project – lifting tenants out of the debt cycle. Reece Plunkett | Executive Policy Officer | Bridge Housing
  • How a community housing provider and property developer can partner to grow the supply of appropriate and affordable housing. Andrea Galloway | CEO | Evolve Housing
  • Roundtable: Innovative Practice


Feedback from Sydney event participants:

  • Excellent range of speakers with varying views. 
  • Great mix of speakers and topics as well as really good participation.
  • I found the group size to be good especially when engaging in the round table discussion. Location was very accessible and food was very nice.
  • Topics covered were representative of issues faced by CHPs and offered thought provoking solutions. 

Melbourne, 5 July 2016

The first event in the Innovation series was held in Melbourne on 5th July 2016.

Seminar speakers included:

  • Keynote speaker: Michael Lennon | Managing Director | Housing Choices Australia
  • Greg Anson | Director | FMSA Architecture
  • John Enticott | General Manager | St Kilda Community Housing Ltd
  • Michael Lennon | Managing Director |Housing Choices Australia
  • Matthew Torney | Acting Chief Executive Officer | Urban Communities
  • Jeanette Large | Chief Executive Officer | Women’ s Property Initiatives
  • Kristie Looney  | Officer in Effective Control | Women’ s Property Initiatives
  • Zoe Vale | General Manager Northern Services | Launch Housing.

Additionally, delegates had an opportunity to experience and engage with multiple displays showcasing innovative social housing property development projects, including: 

  • Ashwood Chadstone Gateway project for Port Phillip Housing Association
  • Summer Foundation·        
  • Haven; Home, Safe
  • Habitat for Humanity, Victoria.

Feedback from Melbourne event participants:

      • I am extremely glad that I attended today’s seminar.  Working for a brand new organisation that’s only one year old, there were many ideas that were fantastic to learn about that I can’t wait to take back with me.
      • I have been extremely impressed by the quality of the presentations delivered today – I had some familiarity with any of the innovations presented, but not the detail and unique aspects of each. 
      • The seminars are always good to provide inspiration and building networks, and learning what other areas are doing.
      • Every session was valuable.  I took something away from every speaker.  Very excited to go back to work and share what I learnt today.

Event Wrap-Up

By Michael Forbes | Manager Regulation Housing Registrar | Financial Assets and Liabilities Department of Treasury and Finance

'Innovation in Social Housing' featured several excellent presentations from representatives and associates of community housing organisations based in Victoria. The seminar was suggested to the national AHI body by the Victorian Branch early in 2016, and possible speakers were subsequently communicated to the national AHI officers creating the seminar program. The end result was a high standard seminar which could be replicated in other states and territories. The sponsorship by HomeGround Real Estate and Haven; Home, Safe was much appreciated.

Michael Lennon, Managing Director of Housing Choices Australia was a provocative first speaker placing social housing issues within the context of the  challenges faced by the wider housing market, in particular declining home ownership. He presented a range of creative suggestions to address the declining home ownership trend and to enable longer term, more secure tenancies in the private rental market. Michael also suggested that government needed to play a facilitative role in addressing housing affordability and supply even if its capacity to fund this was limited, and proposed some actions which could be taken at the Commonwealth level in particular.

Matthew Torney, Acting CEO at Urban Communities Limited described the experiences of the agency in taking on broader roles in housing including place making and renewal, community building, social enterprises involving tenants, and owners corporation management.  Matthew also presented some learnings from managing a mix of public, social, affordable and private rental housing, including on one site or within one local geographic area.

Jeanette Large, CEO at Women's Property Initiatives (WPI) and Kristie Looney 'Officer in Effective Control' at WPI outlined the creation of a for-profit social enterprise Property Initiatives Real Estate whose profits will be directed back into WPI and more housing for women and children in need. The Real Estate business opened in March 2015 after about two years of planning and development. WPI gained great probono assistance in this work, particularly through the Crunch program offered by Social Traders.

Zoe Vale, General Manager Northern Services at Launch Housing provided an overview of the supportive accommodation model delivered at the Elizabeth Street Common Ground property in conjunction with Yarra Community Housing. The model is based on the original concept established by New York Common Ground. The Victorian development featured a strong partnership between two registered agencies plus a major property developer Grocon. This housing targets people with complex needs due to mental health, drug and alcohol, acquired brain injury, or other significant issues. Zoe's presentation also highlighted the importance of collecting data and evaluating outcomes against original targets. Some instructive statistics were presented to show the beneficial outcomes being achieved.

John Enticott, General Manager St Kilda Community Housing described the evolution of his agency from charity to welfare to advocacy to social enterprise and questioned where to from here. He captured the dilemma faced by many agencies about whether the key focus is growing the organisation's housing portfolio or adding value for the existing tenant base. His agency's priority is the second of these, and John outlined its social enterprise offshoots and other initiatives including the T2M maintenance service, graphic and web design enterprise, solar power rollout, and land trust model introduction. Social Traders had again assisted with its Thrive program, this time supporting the maintenance service's development.    

The final section of the seminar program showcased four innovative property developments with each presenter providing a brief overview and short video, after which seminar participants were able to discuss the developments directly with the presenters at their display tables in a break-out room. Greg Anson from FMSA Architecture showcased the Ashwood Chadstone Gateway Project undertaken with Port Phillip Housing Association, Di Winkler from Summer Foundation talked about housing severely disabled younger people moving from nursing homes, Trudi Ray and Sue Masters from Haven; Home,Safe described the Tucker Estate (Wattlewood) major development in Carrum Downs, and Philip Curtis from Habitat for Humanity discussed that agency's work particularly with a person whose previous home had been destroyed in the bushfires near Marysville in Victoria.

Refreshments available in the break-out room were an enjoyable way to conclude a very stimulating day for all those present.