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14 Mar 2019

Hunter delegation to attend Sydney rally to make housing a NSW election issue

A delegation of 30 people from various Newcastle and Hunter based organisations will travel to Sydney Town Hall on Thursday March 14 to take part in the Assembly on Affordable Housing, Energy & Rental Reform (#TownHallAssembly19).

The delegation, led by Compass Housing, includes representatives from NOVA for Women, Uniting, BaptistCare and members of the Hunter’s Big Ideas Homelessness Network.

Compass spokesperson Professor David Adamson said according to organisers, Sydney Alliance, the assembly is the largest public event about cost of living issues ever held in Australia. More than 2400 community leaders are now registered to hear from real Australians sharing their everyday struggle with housing insecurity, rental affordability and energy costs.

He said at the assembly, state and federal politicians will be asked to commit to a suite of housing and energy costs including:

  • at least 5000 new social housing homes a year in NSW to meet the housing needs of families on low and very low incomes in our communities;
  • more security for renters by removing ‘no grounds’ evictions in NSW
  • a real funded 10 year plan to end homelessness in NSW
  • increased targets for affordable housing in new developments
  • a review of Minimum Standards of Rental Houses and Energy Efficiency Standards.

“We thought it important for Hunter organisations to attend the assembly on behalf of Hunter people who are struggling to keep a roof over their head.”

“Housing is a fundamental human right that impacts everyone and is essential for people to work, study and contribute to the community.”

“With high rents and house prices, rising homelessness rates, and long waits for social housing in the Hunter and across NSW, housing issues should be a key election issue.”

“We need the NSW government to lobby and work with the Australian Government to develop a national housing plan.”

Last year Compass Housing published the inaugural Affordable Housing Income Gap Report which showed median rents in Lake Macquarie and Port Stephens are unaffordable given median incomes in those areas. The latest 2016 Census figures show homelessness rates are on the rise, up 12% in the Hunter since the last Census.

Professor Adamson said one way Newcastle and Hunter residents can help to keep housing reform as an issue across all levels of government is to sign up to the Everybody’s Home campaign at People and organisations can also sign the Hunter pledge to end homelessness at

Politicians and party leaders from all sides of parliament have committed to attend the assembly including:

  • Doug Cameron, Shadow Housing and Homelessness Spokesperson
  • Mehreen Faruqui, Greens Spokesperson on Housing
  • Don Harwin, NSW Minister for Energy and Utilities
  • Adam Searle, NSW Shadow Minister for Energy and Climate Change
  • Jenny Leong, NSW Greens Housing spokesperson
  • Alex Greenwich (Independent)
  • Paul Green NSW MLC (Christian Democratic Party).



Media information: Craig Eardley on 0437477493. Not the assembly is a registration only event, not an open public event. Visit

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01 Mar 2019


Leading community housing provider Compass Housing Services has appointed Professor Caroline McMillen as its newest board member.

Professor McMillen is the current Chief Scientist for South Australia and former Vice-Chancellor of the University of Newcastle.  She holds a BA (Honours) and Doctor of Philosophy from the University of Oxford and completed her medical training graduating with an MB BChir from the University of Cambridge.

Compass Group Managing Director Greg Budworth said Professor McMillen brought impressive expertise to the Compass board.

“In addition to her impressive academic career, Professor McMillen has extensive experience as a company director having served on the Boards of the Australian Business Higher Education Round Table, Universities Australia, the Universities Admissions Centre and as a Business Events Sydney Ambassador,” he said.

“She has also served on international disciplinary bodies, research policy and assessment panels and industry groups, including the Australia Automotive Industry Innovation Council, the South Australian Premier’s Climate Change Council and the NSW Innovation and Productivity Council.”

Professor McMillen said she looked forward to working with a company that played a vital role on the frontline of the housing crisis. 

“As both a service provider and housing advocate, Compass sets the standard within the community housing industry,” she said.

“I’m looking forward to working with my fellow directors and rest of the team as the company pursues its vision for a world in which all people have safe and adequate housing and are engaged in sustainable communities.”


Media contact: Martin Kennedy 0418 353 913


Further information:

Professor Caroline McMillen commenced in the role as Chief Scientist for South Australia in October 2018 after serving as Vice-Chancellor of the University of Newcastle for 7 years between 2011 and 2018. She is a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Health and Medical Sciences, a Fellow of the Royal Society of New South Wales and a Bragg Member of the Royal Institution, Australia. 

She has served in academic leadership positions at Monash University, the University of Adelaide and at the University of South Australia where she held the role of Deputy Vice-Chancellor Research and Innovation.

Professor McMillen’s research focussed on the early origins of metabolic and cardiovascular health in adult life and she was a member of the PMSEIC Working Group on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander maternal, fetal and post-natal health.  She is also an active champion for girls and women in science and she was a Member of the Expert Advisory Group for Science in Australia Gender Equity (SAGE). 

Throughout her career Professor McMillen has been committed to building collaborations between universities, government, industry and communities that drive innovation and have a positive impact on the economic, social and cultural health of Australia.


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12 Feb 2019

Infrastructure bill necessary for growth: Greg Budworth

The NSW government's proposed Hunter Region Special Infra structure Contribution (SIC) has attracted criticism but things are not as black and white as some critics claim.


It proposes developers of dwellings on recently-rezoned land be charged a levy to help cover the cost of supplying the infrastructure needed to support the Hunter's growing population. It replaces the current system of voluntary planning agreements where developers negotiate contributions for each development.

The government estimates the SIC will raise around half a billion dollars, about 15 per cent of the cost of providing the roads, schools, health and emergency services infrastructure needed to support growth. It says the SIC is simpler, fairer, and will help speed up development. Critics claim the SIC will simply be passed on to consumers, pushing up the price of housing.

The reality is less straightforward. Some developers may try to pass additional costs on to consumers, but final purchase prices will inevitably be a function of consumers' willingness and ability to pay. These in turn are heavily influenced by market sentiment and access to credit.

Faced with this constraint, some developers may choose to factor the cost of the SIC into the price they are willing to pay for undeveloped land. Others may reduce their margin expectations. Some may do both.

It's worth noting the SIC will apply to new developments on land that has recently been, or is identified to be, re-zoned to allow residential or industrial development.

Owners of this land will have benefited from an exponential increase in its value.

It seems reasonable for those who benefit financially from new land releases to contribute to the cost of supporting infrastructure in a consistent way. That doesn't mean there isn't room for improvement.

Developers take on significant risks and play an important role in addressing the region's housingcrisis. It is important they remain profitable. Striking the right balance may involve offering developers limited concessions on floor space or car park ratios in exchange for contributions.

Successful and sustainable communities need more than just homes. They also need public infrastructure.

The question we should be asking is how the cost of providing that infrastructure can be equitably divided amongst the community.

What is vital is that there is an open and transparent process and factual debate.

Greg Budworth is the Group Managing Director, Compass Housing Services, and Vice President, UN Habitat's General Assembly of Partners

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24 Jan 2019

Despite falls, Aussie housing still amongst world's most expensive

Regional markets not exempt.

Australia has retained its status as one of the least affordable countries in the world according to the most recent Demographia International Housing Affordability Survey. 

Leading community housing provider Compass Housing Services said the results showed the need for urgent government action on housing.

The Demographia survey measures housing affordability by comparing median prices with median household incomes.  All five of Australia’s major housing markets (population >1 million) were in the “severely unaffordable” category and, despite recent price falls, Sydney and Melbourne maintained their positions as among the most unaffordable housing markets in the world.

Most expensive major markets (pop > 1million)




Median Multiple



Hong Kong
















San Jose




Los Angeles








San Francisco






















Source: Demographia 2019


However Compass Housing’s Manager of Public Affairs Martin Kennedy said it wasn’t just major markets where affordability was an issue.

“The survey’s findings are consistent with those of the Compass Housing Affordable Housing Income Gap Report, which last year found housing stress was not restricted to capital cities and was not only experienced by low income households,” he said.

Of the 23 Australian cities and towns included in the Demographia report, only Gladstone, with a median multiple of 2.9, is deemed to be affordable.  

Rockhampton, with a median multiple of 3.8 is deemed “moderately unaffordable”, while Albury-Wodonga, Alice Springs, Darwin, Mackay and Townsville are “seriously unaffordable” with median multiples between 4.1 and 5.0.

The remaining 16 markets are all deemed “severely unaffordable”.  Remarkably, both the Gold Coast and Sunshine Coast have median multiples higher than London.

Mr Kennedy said the findings prove that although prices have begun to decline in some areas, they remain out of reach for median income households.

 “Prices might be falling at the moment, but the reality is in some areas it would take a fall of 50% or more just to get back into the ‘moderately unaffordable’ category,” he said.

“The broader economic consequences of such an outcome, if it came to pass, would be severe and could result in even higher levels of housing stress”.

The most recent Productivity Commission report found more than 50% of low-income households in the private rental market were already experiencing housing stress.

There are five simple things governments can do to fix Australia's housing system so that it works for everyone. 

  • Reset our tax system to make it fairer for ordinary Australians wanting to buy a home.
  • Appoint a minister for housing & develop a strategy to deliver 500,000 social and affordable homes.
  • Improve renters’ rights by getting rid of “no grounds” evictions and unfair rent increases.
  • Increase Commonwealth Rent Assistance for the thousands of families who are struggling to pay the rent.
  • Develop a National Plan to end homelessness by 2030.

Find out more at:


Media contact: Martin Kennedy 0418 353 913 /

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16 Dec 2018

Compass Housing makes submission to Central Coast Council's draft affordable housing strategy

Compass Housing has made a submission to Central Coast Council’s Draft Affordable and Alternative Housing Strategy.

The strategy includes 28 recommended actions to address the growing need for affordable and alternative housing options in the NSW coast region, north of Sydney.

The key points from Compass’ submission are as follows.

  • Compass congratulates Council for its recognition of the importance of affordable housing.
  • It supports the potential re-zoning of developable land within 400m of selected town centres and within 800 metres of selected railway stations and transport nodes but encourages council to assess the existing density of social housing within these zones before permitting the construction of additional social housing, to ensure overall densities are not excessive.
  • It endorses Council’s support of the “housing first” approach which has been internationally evidenced as the most effective method to reduce homelessness.
  • It strongly supports the resourcing and promotion of a homeless hub.
  • It welcomes the proposal for multi-tenure development on Council owned land.
  • It has reservations about extending the scope of transitional housing as a response to homelessness
  • It strongly supports a pilot program to build relationships between homelessness services and private real estate agents.
  • It supports an amendment of the DCP to limit the parking requirements to 0.6 per studio or one bedroom apartment and 1 space for two bedroom apartments.
  • It supports proposals to lobby the state government for an affordable housing levy in the Gosford Town Centre and to increased density and/or FSR and height increases in proximity to the CBD and railway stations.
  • Compass believes that, if council is considering small lot subdivisions of 200m2, it should require exceptional design and energy performance with resident running costs and amenity being the primary focus.
  • It believes allowing smaller floor spaces for one-bedroom apartments can lead to modest improvements in affordability BUT good design, amenity and energy performance need to be applied as a developmental control - delivers running cost advantages and savings for the resident/tenant.
  • It would welcome Council’s advocacy of title or management transfers of existing public housing to community housing providers
  • Compass says a more useful measurement of affordability for purchase prices than the 30% rule is the median multiple, i.e. the median dwelling price divided by the median gross household income.

Read Compass’ full submission here.

The public exhibition period closes at 5pm Friday 21 December 2018.

Compass Housing is a not for profit social and affordable housing provider. It manages around 700 social and affordable housing dwellings on the Central Coast. Earlier this year Compass Housing published the inaugural Affordable Housing Income Gap report. It looked at a different way to measure rental housing stress and found that even median income renting households in the Central Coast renting a median priced dwelling are experiencing housing stress.

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