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Wednesday, 2 November 2011
Page: 12566

Mr LAURIE FERGUSON (Werriwa) (19:14): This evening I wish to make mention of the efforts of the Hume Community Housing Association, which essentially covers the Liverpool and Fairfield municipalities, although it has some coverage in Holroyd and other areas. In the next year or so it hopes to gain management of a quite significant 500 properties. This housing organisation currently manages 1,400 properties. Its revenue last year was $16.65 million and there was a profit of $1.7 million. It has property holdings valued at nearly $3 million and is at the moment setting about building its own new headquarters and will have some satellite premises.

In managing these 1,400 properties, there is a staff of 35. In reading the 2011 annual report, I was very impressed by the reports of not only the manager, Nicola Lemon, but also Tony Conides, the president, and long-term patron Pat Martin. Nicola reported in the recently released annual report that she looked forward 'with relish' to the 'mayhem and growth' of the next few years.

This organisation is genuinely close to its tenants. I notice that the recent survey of tenants shows an 89 per cent satisfaction with services; 75 per cent of tenants found it easy to get hold of the right person in the organisation; and 85 per cent rated the staff as helpful. During the annual meeting it was impressive to hear the reasons that people work with this organisation and both their own and the tenants' cultural backgrounds. There are 52 nations and 60 languages represented amongst the tenants and 49 per cent of the staff were born overseas. People who know Sydney would appreciate that having Liverpool and Fairfield as the organisation's essential area of coverage would lead to those kinds of figures.

I note that in the past year the organisation has striven to maximise its efforts in the temporary accommodation program. It is eager to improve that service and provide the right assistance to its customers. It has been allocated six three-bedroom units in Liverpool for a pilot project for temporary accommodation intended for homeless families. The organisation—and you would think perhaps this is not normally the ambit operation of these groups—has worked very strongly in the area of homelessness. It is dealing directly with local residents who are hit by this. It has established food packages and moved towards systems that provide overnight accommodation. So it is going well beyond the normal activities of housing cooperatives in the state.

The organisation was established back in 1981 and in 1994 there was an amalgamation of the groups in the two municipalities. It has certainly come a long way in that period. It stresses equity, trust, honesty, dignity and respect for its tenants. At the same time, it has maximised the rental income by a policy of following up arrears very strongly, internal reviews and strong improvement plans.

There is a social club amongst the tenants and, at the main event at the end of last year, there were 200 people in attendance—other major events being the Royal Easter Show and the annual trip to Jamberoo, on the South Coast. Another point that the organisation stresses and has had successful outcomes in is the environmental status of its properties, inspiring tenants to take an interest. That is part of the culture of the organisation—as I say, there is a very close connection between the highly committed employees and the tenants.

Nelson Cabrera was mentioned in the annual report again this year. He has conducted Tenants' Voice for quite a few years. There is a strong emphasis on block meetings, less formal advice centres and a presence by tenants on the committee that runs the organisation. An instance of the way they try to inspire people is through very active block projects.

It is great to see the alternative to government housing of properties managed by a very committed, democratically controlled, responsive organisation in the housing sector. I have been involved over two decades with a leading New South Wales organisation, Kapitbahayan, a Filipino based housing cooperative that is also involved in the Leumeah area of the Werriwa electorate. Hume is just another organisation which certainly merits support on the public record for its endeavours. (Time expired)