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10 Mar 2021

Singleton Council supports local Compass Housing tenants with laptops and tutoring

Local high school students living in social housing have access to free laptops and online tutoring thanks to an $8,874 Singleton Community Relief Fund grant provided to Compass Housing Services.

The grants are funded by Singleton Council and BHP Vital Resources.

The laptops can be borrowed from Singleton Library for up to an entire school term. The tutoring is being provided through specialist company – The Tutoring Company – and is available until June 30.

Compass' Upper Hunter Community Participation Officer, Kristy King, said many school students faced disruption to their learning during the COVID-19 pandemic lockdowns, which put some students at a disadvantage.

Ms King said young people in social housing don’t always have access to technology or have to share laptops with other family members.

She said online tutoring provides students with a safe, flexible and easily accessible way to complete schoolwork under expert guidance.

“Providing access to laptops and tutoring can make a big difference to the way young people engage with the education that is so important to their future,” she said. “Singleton Council and BHP have been very supportive of this initiative which will make an important difference in the lives of young people,” she said.

Ms King said Compass enjoyed great working partnerships with both Muswellbrook and Singleton councils under a common objective of helping those people living in community housing to gain the skills and support they need to maximise their economic and social participation in their community.

“Through a Muswellbrook Council grant to establish community gardens in tenant complexes we now have whipper snippers and battery powered lawn mowers to loan out to help tenants care for their properties.” 

Media information: Craig Eardley on 0437477493.

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Four people with shovels at the Marsden property
09 Mar 2021

Compass partners with investLogan on disability housing project

The first sod has been turned on an innovative community housing project that will serve people with a disability in the outer Brisbane suburb of Marsden.

Compass Housing Services' (Compass) Specialist Disability Accommodation team is working with investLogan on the project which will see construction of two, three-bedroom dwellings. The homes can be used as NDIS housing with provision for a Supported Independent Living Provider to be on site. Compass has been contracted to provide ongoing property and tenancy management services.

Compass Executive Manager of Specialist Disability Accommodation, Emma Duiz, said Compass was thrilled to be involved in such an important project. 

“Specialist Disability Accommodation is a game changer in terms of the way we, as a community, provide housing for people with disabilities,” Ms Duiz said. “Everyone has a right to live as part of the community, and to have choice and control over their own housing situation. Projects like this help make that possible.”

The homes are scheduled for completion in late 2021. They will be designed and constructed to the High Physical Support Specialty Disability Accommodation (SDA) Design Category, which is designed to incorporate a high level of physical access provision for people with significant physical impairment and requiring very high levels of support. This standard is equivalent to the Liveable Housing Australia ‘Platinum’ level.

The Community Housing Industry Association predicts Australia will have a gap of one million community homes within 20 years. This housing crisis is having the biggest impact on the 4.4 million Australian’s living with disability, of which more than 40 percent have reported not having their need for assistance fully met .

investLogan Chair Steve Greenwood said the current rate of construction of community homes doesn’t keep pace with the growing need, much less manage the backlog of people waiting for suitable NDIS accommodation.

“There is a growing need for housing that is suitable for those living with disabilities within our community,” Mr Greenwood said. “investLogan is committed to delivering social projects that support our community and improve liveability for all levels of need.

“This development is just a small contribution, but if it is getting a handful of people into homes where they feel entirely supported and have all their needs met then we are extremely pleased with that outcome.”

The move is supported by the City of Logan, with the sod turn attended by Logan Deputy Mayor Jon Raven.

Cr Raven said the delivery of NDIS housing was an excellent result for the region.

“We’re very pleased to see the delivery of this very important housing project that will provide people in need with a space where they can feel comfortable and supported,” Cr Raven said. “Across the country we are facing a tight housing market, which is being felt strongly by those who require specialised accommodation, so this housing will go a long way in supporting those who need it most.”

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08 Mar 2021

Get hand drumming and connecting at Compass Housing’s 123 Community Hub

What: FREE 10 week hand drumming workshop in April. Three intro sessions in March.  
When: Friday’s 12th, 19th & 26th March from 5pm to 6pm.
Where: 123 Community Hub, 123 Creedon St, Broken Hill.


Broken Hill residents can learn hand drumming and social and emotional connection skills for free through a new program being run at Compass Housing’s 123 Community Hub.

Three, one hour, introductory sessions will be held at the Creedon Street hub from 5pm to 6pm on March 12, 19 and 26 before the 10 week DRUMBEAT program kicks off on April 9.

Hub Co-ordinator Tammy Carswell said local resident Giti Haddadan Misagh, with social work students Briony Moore and Jess Lee from the Broken Hill University Department of Rural Health, will be volunteering their time to run a pilot program after training to be DRUMBEAT facilitators. She said Giti approached her with the idea after attending a Community Tea (cultural cooking session) at the hub. 

“This is the first time we have had a music-based skills and learning program at the hub,” Ms Carswell said.

“It is part of our plan to hold a wide range of fun and educational programs for Compass tenants and the broader community,” she said.

“DRUMBEAT will be another great way to bring our tenants and the community together – to explore common interests and walk to the beat of the same drum.”

The, award-winning, Holyoake DRUMBEAT program is the world’s first structured learning program using music, psychology and neurobiology. DRUMBEAT is an acronym for Discovering Relationships Using Music, Beliefs, Emotions, Attitudes, and Thoughts. It incorporates hand drumming, behavioural therapeutic principles, and cognitive and dialectical elements to facilitate development of social and emotional skills for healthy relationships and values.

Compass Housing’s, award winning, 123 Community Hub is a community meeting place in Broken Hill designed to provide local social housing tenants and other community members with access to a range of services as well as programs to improve their well-being and strengthen the local community. Since opening in September 2015 it has provided a growing range of programs and a place to access a range of services offered by Government agencies and non-Government organisations.

Compass Housing is a Tier One, not for profit, community housing provider which manages almost 7,000 properties in NSW, Queensland, and New Zealand - including 200 in Broken Hill.

To register for a session call Tammy on 0447 196 354.

Media information: Tammy Carswell on 0447196354 or Craig Eardley on 0437 477 493 (Compass Media). Tammy is available for interview.

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12 Jan 2021

Compass Housing Services strong despite challenging year

Hunter-based community housing provider, Compass Housing Services (Compass), finished the year in a strong position despite what Group Managing Director Greg Budworth describes as the most challenging year in Compass’ history.

Mr Budworth made the comments following the release of Compass’ latest annual report.

The report shows that Compass’ housing portfolio continues to grow. It added another 248 properties and increased the number of tenancies it manages by 7.5 percent. The growth was due to the expansion of its Specialist Disability Accommodation portfolio and substantial progress of the NSW Government’s Social and Affordable Housing Fund (SAHF contract). Under SAHF, Compass is delivering 500 new properties across the Hunter and Central Coast regions. Seven of 19 projects, comprising 123 properties, have been completed with another 12 projects scheduled for completion by the end of 2021.

Tenant satisfaction remains well above the industry average at 93 per cent.

In other highlights, Compass successfully established an in-house property maintenance division - My Place Property Maintenance (MPPM). The 60 strong team will soon include apprentices drawn from its tenants, with a focus on engaging Indigenous youth.  The Compass auspiced Grow a Star youth mentoring and scholarship program assisted 80 new young people - the most in a year since the program started in 2012. A new 10-year strategic plan, aligned with the UN Sustainable Development Goals and its operating paradigm of People, Place, Performance, Planet and Partnerships, was developed.

Mr Budworth congratulated his staff for their response to the year’s biggest challenge, in COVID-19.

As part of the COVID-19 response, Compass Tenant Engagement Officers completed 2830 COVID-19 welfare checks and developed packs to help tenants pass some time during lockdown.

“Staff were particularly cognisant of the potential for restrictions to compound the social isolation that can afflict elderly tenants and lone-person households, even under normal circumstances,” Mr Budworth said.

Prior to the pandemic, Compass staff held 129 engagement events which were attended by more than 3,000 people – an increase on the previous year despite a quarter of the year heavily impacted by COVID lockdowns.

Compass was an early mover in terms of adopting work from home arrangements. Led by its IT team, staff made the smooth transition to serving clients under new working arrangements within a week.

“With Compass having more than 180 employees, the logistics involved in effecting this change at short notice were considerable.”

“I want to thank and congratulate the entire Compass team for their strength, adaptability, and resilience through what has been, without doubt, one of the strangest, and most challenging years of our personal and professional lives.”

Mr Budworth said COVID-19 also threw the question of what it means to have “adequate” housing into sharp focus.

“Compass has long argued for adequate and affordable housing as the foundation of human wellbeing - something that has been made even more apparent by COVID-19 inspired restrictions which saw most of us spend more time at home than we were probably used to.”

Compass continued to influence the public debate on housing and the need for greater social and affordable housing. In 2019/20 it produced two research papers delving into the extent of Australia’s housing crisis. The first, Estimating Current and Future Demand for Housing Assistance, explored the extent to which official waiting list figures do not accurately capture the true level of demand for subsidised housing. The second was an updated edition of the Affordable Housing Income Gap Report which measures middle income housing stress across the country.

Mr Budworth said Compass has also positioned itself as an international NGO. It is now accredited by the Australian Council for International Development (ACFID) and is in the process of obtaining accreditation through the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT).

“Already we have delivered two community hubs and cyclone shelters in Vanuatu. Elsewhere in the Pacific, Compass is partnering with RMIT University to deliver an Urban Resilience Adaptation project to deliver climate change mitigation interventions.”

“Looking ahead, despite the general uncertainty created by COVID-19, the outlook for Compass is encouraging. That equates to more people from the Hunter and other parts of Australia having not only an appropriate roof over their head having a roof over their head but being engaged with their community. It also means continued jobs for local people as part of a broader contribution to the economy and community.”

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15 Dec 2020

A Garden for the Senses on the Central Coast

Compass Housing Services (Compass) has teamed up with the Royal Botanic Gardens and Cerebral Palsy Alliance to build and plant-out a wheelchair accessible sensory garden at one of its new specialist disability accommodation (SDA) properties on the Central Coast.

Residents of the new group home in Long Jetty will soon be enjoying home grown lettuce, tomatoes, and herbs. Sensory gardens allow people to connect with nature by touching, rubbing, smelling as well as eating the plants. This garden incorporates matting, stones, and wind pipes to invoke the senses of sight and sound.

The garden is funded by Compass as part of its sustainability program and is the first to be installed in a Compass property on the Central Coast.

Compass' Sustainability Manager, Jandy McCandless, said community gardens are increasingly being used in public spaces, schools, in public housing, and for people with special needs to develop a range of new skills.

Ms McCandless said community gardens are an important part of Compass’ tenant and resident engagement programs. She said in other community gardens installed in Compass’ properties, there have been positive results above and beyond the expected improvements in nutrition and social interaction.

“Community gardens can help tenants and residents to develop life skills and bring residents together,” Ms McCandless said.

Compass Group Managing Director, Greg Budworth said residents of the home used to live at Newcastle’s Stockton Centre and all use wheelchairs. The new group home is one of 65 built across the region by Home4Life, a joint venture between Compass and BlueCHP. The homes will eventually house approximately 300 people. There are five such homes on the Central Coast.

Mr Budworth said that the NSW Government has selected six Supported Independent Living (SIL) organisations to provide, highly specialised, 24-hour support at the homes. Cerebral Palsy Alliance manages this home and its staff will help residents care for and enjoy the garden.

“This is a new way of delivering modern, quality, specialist disability accommodation,” Mr Budworth said.

This garden is a small but important aspect of how we are working with the SILs to create homes for life,” he said.

Cerebral Palsy Alliance house manager Alfred Oduro said throughout COVID, resident outings were limited so we needed to be resourceful and find activities that could be done in and around the house.

“Activities such as this community garden mean that residents can find enjoyment and purpose in the safety of their home,” Mr Oduro said.

Brenden Moore from the Royal Botanic Gardens has helped Compass to create other gardens for tenants in other parts of NSW. The Royal Botanic Gardens donates Brenden’s time and bring the hardware for building gardens, the plants and trees, and the knowledge to help residents to enjoy and make the most of their garden.

Compass is a Hunter-based, Tier 1, not for profit community housing provider and an NDIS Specialist Disability Accommodation provider. It manages almost 7,000 properties in NSW and Queensland, including properties for people with disabilities. It manages 690 properties on the Central Coast.

Cerebral Palsy Alliance (CPA) has been providing supported short and long-term accommodation for people with a range of disabilities for more than 60 years. It provides 24-hour in home care to more than 400 people living with complex physical and / or physical disabilities across more than 100 homes in Sydney, Central Coast and the Hunter.

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