Executive Director Corporate Services
Director Barwon South West*
All IT and telephony platforms have been upgraded over the past 12 months. The $900,000 investment has completed our Business Roadmap and enabled us to connect all our offices to the central operating systems and server platform in Bendigo. Staff are able to login using the same credentials regardless of their office location, thereby making working remotely a much easier and accessible practice.
Our high speed internet has allowed us to implement a new VoIP telephony system, connecting all of our staff across the state within the one system. Delivering financial as well as process efficiencies for the organisation.
All internal policies and procedures were reviewed, aligning every office under a single operating policy and procedure platform. By engaging all levels of Management we were able to reduce 207 policies to 106 within six months.
A business plan for Barwon South West was completed and endorsed by the Board. The plan aims to position Haven; Home, Safe as a Housing Association of Choice in the Barwon South West area, aligning well with our purpose and objectives of growth.
The Royal Commission into Family Violence and its recommendations, all of which the state government wants to implement, is set to define key decisions across multiple sectors over the coming years. We were successful in our bid for the Rapid Housing Family Violence tender that is set to grow our housing portfolio in Geelong and Warrnambool. Various support providers we connected with provided letters of support for that tender and we look forward to future opportunities to work with the community sector in Geelong to reduce the numbers of those vulnerable in our community.
A personal highlight for me was travelling internationally to the US and the UK to meet with some of the world’s best housing minds tackling issues of housing and homelessness. The US have a distinct focus on education for anyone trying to enter the housing market, a feature that we lack in our programs. Organisations aim to connect those that want to enter the housing market as either owners or private renters with various education programs that are funded and supported by banks. In the US, over 1000 Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFI) serve economically distressed communities by providing credit, capital and financial services that are often unavailable from mainstream financial institutions. CDFIs leverage capital from the private sector for development activities in low wealth communities, loaning and investing billions of dollars in the US economy.
In the UK welfare reforms sparked by austerity measures are creating havoc as Housing Associations rush to merge or form group structures in order to ensure their survival as rent yield is set to decrease 1% over four years. There are many opportunities to learn from the US and UK, in particular how they engage with their tenants and provide community engagement and participation platforms.
This year I also joined the Board of the Victorian Branch of the Australasian Housing Institute as Secretary and became a Certified Housing Professional level 3. This allows me to more actively advocate for the provision of affordable housing whilst remaining strongly connected to the Community Housing Sector both in Australia and New Zealand. I have also been selected to become a mentor for La Trobe University’s pilot MBA student mentoring program in 2017 and will sit on the CHIA Victorian Region Committee. Both opportunities are, of course, very exciting and I look forward to seeing the outcomes these could have on our communities.
*Trudi is now Executive Director South Operations