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19 Jul 2018

Compass recognised for innovation and contribution to the community

Compass Housing has had its innovative approach to providing social and affordable housing and its contribution to community recognised after being named a finalist in the Hunter Business Chamber Awards.   

Compass is a finalist for the Contribution to the Region Award and Excellence in Innovation Award.

Group Managing Director Greg Budworth said it was an honour to be recognised against other high caliber organisations. He said the credit goes to the whole team at Compass.

Compass is no stranger to the Awards. Last year Mr Budworth was named Business Leader of the Year and Compass Housing was crowned with a Business Excellence Award.

The Awards are the peak accolade for businesses and organisations based in the NSW Hunter region. Organisers claim they are the premier and the largest regional business chamber awards in Australia. This year 77 finalists will compete for 14 awards. They will be announced at a gala ceremony in Newcastle on August 10.

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18 Jul 2018

Opinion - Australia’s Sustainable Development Goals Report Fails On Housing

In his role as Vice President of the UN General Assembly of Partners, Compass Group Managing Director Greg Budworth reveals how Australia has been slow off the blocks in meeting the UN Sustainable Development Goals and the New Urban Agenda (NUA), which has implications for housing in Australia. This opinion piece was published in HousingWorx.

Australia is a signatory to both the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the New Urban Agenda (NUA). Both international agreements have ambitions to ensure that housing is provided as a human right to all citizens by 2030. Realising just one of the goals, SDG 11, would solve the current housing crisis and create an important foundation for the welfare of all Australians. But more on that later.

Australia delivered its first Voluntary National Report (VNR) on the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (UN Agenda 2030) to the UN High Level Political Forum in New York on 17th July 2018. The 132-page report is available on the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade’s website.

Each of the 193 countries that signed the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development has committed to producing a VNR at least twice over the lifetime of the Agenda. VNRs are intended to reflect a country’s efforts and achievements against the 17 SDGs. Various Australian government departments have been assigned lead responsibility for achievement of the SDGs and input into the VNR.

The Australian Federal Government makes the point that its VNR is a 'whole of Australia' report showing the initiatives and activity of government, business, civil society, academia, communities and individuals. It says Australians are contributing to achievement of the SDGs through their work in the care economy, by volunteering, by preserving the natural environment and through their everyday activities. This collaborative approach is welcome. Bringing together all sections of society is regarded internationally as key to realising the SDGs.

The VNR provides us with an opportunity to assess how Australia is progressing. Of most interest to the homelessness and housing sector is SDG 11, which is about “making cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable”.

Target 11.1 aims to provide “access for all to adequate, safe and affordable housing and basic services and upgrade slums” by 2030. The measurement of performance on that target is 11.1 – the proportion of urban population living in slums, informal settlements or inadequate housing. Unfortunately, many Australians are living in inadequate housing. In fact, the Everybody’s Home – – campaign shows there is a 500,000 shortfall in social and affordable homes.

The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare’s 2017 Housing Assistance in Australia report shows waitlists for social housing remain long, with 194,600 households awaiting social housing allocation as at 30 June 2016 and, nationally, between four and nine percent of dwellings were considered overcrowded, with between 12 and 25 percent underutilised.

According to the 2016 Census, the rate of homelessness in Australia has increased 4.6 percent over the last five years. People who sleep on the streets or under makeshift dwellings only represent six percent of the homeless population, while the other 94 percent are ‘hidden homeless’ – moving between the homes of family or ‘couch surfing’ at a friend’s place until they have to move. That’s not adequate housing.

Despite this crisis in housing, Australia’s VNR mainly reports on descriptions of challenges and the need to build smart, resilient and sustainable cities. There is no mention of the challenges posed by the current housing crisis and how they might be resolved by 2030. 

How are we shaping up when it comes to providing adequate housing for everyone? The VNR is silent on measuring performance against Target 11.1. There is no discussion of the current gaps and the plan to meet the Target by 2030.

Therein lies the fundamental problem. There is no national plan. There are ad hoc initiatives, many of them worthwhile, but there is not a report on the priority, evidence-based initiatives needed to reduce, to zero, the proportion of urban population living in slums, informal settlements or inadequate housing by 2030.

At the Affordable Housing Conference, there was overwhelming recognition of the need for a national plan to resolve the housing crisis. A plan provides an analysis of needs, the identification of targets and a program to achieve them. It also regularly reports on achievements and failures.

It is widely accepted that government cannot do this alone, and the housing and homelessness sector is ready and able to assist government achieve the housing target of SDG1.1. Currently, we are not holding government to this task. The lack of accountability in the VNR for achieving housing for all is a route to failure. 

What can be done?
The SDGs and NUA provide frameworks to resolve housing problems in Australia. Your organisation’s engagement with UN programs can help realise their objectives to benefit Australian citizens. We all have a role to play to press government to action but also to assist a collaborative program for change.

Practical actions include:

  • Join the UN General Assembly of Partners (GAP);
  • Join state and national UN Australia Associations;
  • Encourage your peak body to get involved; and
  • Join and consider financially supporting the Everybody’s Home campaign.

The New Urban Agenda (NUA) is the outcome document from World Habitat lll. It is designed as an accelerator of all the SDGs, including SDG11, in the urban environment. 

On 1st and 2nd November this year, the second international iteration of the New Urban Agenda and SDGs Conference will be held in Newcastle ( The conference theme is Affordable Living in Sustainable Cities, and it is being held in partnership with the 26th EAROPH World Congress. You can attend, sponsor or contribute.

SDG 11 and the aspiration of adequate housing for all is everybody’s business. Let’s not miss the opportunity this provides us to hold government to the task it has accepted by signing the SDGs and NUA documents.

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04 Jul 2018

Partnership brings affordable housing to Wickham

Newcastle City Council and Compass Housing will each contribute $3million towards an affordable housing development in the inner-city.

Eight of the 17 one and two-bedroom units on Station Street, Wickham will be reserved for key workers, with the remaining nine for social housing tenants.

The $7 million project will provide homes for workers such as teachers and emergency services personnel and will typically see rents capped at 30 per cent of household incomes.


"Council’s contribution comes from Building Better Cities funds and will be provided once 80 per cent of the project is completed," Lord Mayor Nuatali Nelmes said.

"The joint venture will provide homes close to transport and jobs to ensure a healthy diversity of inner-city residents as part of Council's well-rounded city centre revitalisation efforts,” Cr Nelmes said.

"Without affordable housing in growth corridors, many people will struggle to find suitable accommodation and be forced out of these areas.

"I call on the housing development sector, relevant government agencies, NGOs and the community to follow Council’s lead and help create a community that looks out for each other."


Compass’ Group Managing Director Greg Budworth welcomed Council’s support for affordable housing given the chronic shortage in Newcastle and the Hunter.

"Compass Housing is using funds leveraged from its existing housing assets, some obtained from other State and Federal Government housing initiatives such as the Nation Building Economic Stimulus Plan to support this project," Mr Budworth said.

“Thousands of local people are under housing stress; including working people who struggling to put a roof over their heads,” he said. 

“Having appropriate and affordable housing is fundamental to success in every part of life so we’re proud to be part of this project.”


Over the past decade Compass has delivered more than 400 new social and affordable housing dwellings.


This is the latest affordable housing project to be delivered using the $12.5 million Council secured via the 1996 Building Better Cities program. Council previously funded a development in Mayfield, affordable housing in Newcastle and a retirement village in Hamilton with BBC money. Compass was selected to build and manage the units after Council undertook a tender last year to partner with a community housing provider on the project. The tender was open to all Tier One Community Housing Providers registered under the National Regulatory System for Community Housing.


Compass Housing is a Hunter-based, not for profit, community housing provider that manages more than 4,500 properties in NSW, Brisbane and New Zealand. It also undertakes community development projects in Australia and in Vanuatu.

For interviews call Council Communications on 4974 2264 or Craig Eardley (Compass) on 0437477493.


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19 Jun 2018

Compass gets behind Vinnies CEO Sleepout to help end homelessness

Compass Housing has a team of five participating in this year's Vinnies CEO Sleepout, to play its part in helping to end the cycle of homelessness for local people.

The Sleepout will be held in Newcastle on June 21, one of the longest and coldest nights of the year, at McDonald Jones Stadium.

This will be Compass Housing CEO Greg Budworth’s fourth sleepout.  Mr Budworth says this year he had five staff members volunteer to sleep out with him.

He says he supports the CEO Sleepout because homelessness is such a significant and growing issue. More than 116,000 Australians experience homelessness on any given night.

“I hope by doing the Sleepout I provide some awareness to my staff and others in the community of the plight of homeless people and the disadvantage they experience,” Mr Budworth says. 

“Even though we are only sleeping out for one night, it does give you some perspective of how unpleasant it is to be homeless,” he says.

More than 50 people are registered for this year’s Newcastle Sleepout and they have so far raised more than $50,000.

Mr Budworth encouraged people to donate what they can to help Vinnies to provide support to homeless people. $55 will feed a family for a day. $105 will provide emergency accommodation for a family in crisis. $505 will help pay rent for a family facing eviction.

The Compass team will join hundreds of other CEOs, business owners as well as community and government leaders to sleep outdoors at 11 locations around Australia to support Australians who are experiencing homelessness. Last year, the Vinnies CEO Sleepout raised $5.6 million nationally.

Compass’ CEO Sleepout team is Kirsten Adam, Debbie Bradfield, Greg Budworth, Michelle Faithfull and Mel Hope.

Donate to Greg and the Compass team here.

Supporting the CEO Sleepout is one of a number of things Mr Budworth and his team at Compass Housing are doing to eliminate homelessness in the region.

Aside from its day to day business of providing social and affordable housing to around 10,000 people in NSW and Queensland, Compass is a member of, and provides secretariat support to, the The Big Ideas Homelessness Network.

The Network is working with local organisations to sign the Newcastle and Hunter Pledge to end homelessness.

Compass also provides secretariat support to the Hunter Homeless Connect Day committee which runs a one day event in July to provide one stop shop services and support to local people who are experiencing homelessness, or are at risk of homelessness. 


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28 May 2018

Opinion - Tax Cuts Insignificant in the Face Of Australian Housing Crisis

Compass Housing’s Group Managing Director Greg Budworth has had an opinion piece published in the Fifth Estate.

Despite growing consensus Australia’s housing system is broken, it failed to rate a mention in this year’s federal budget. It’s a remarkable oversight given the threat the housing crisis poses to the economy.

Australia faces a shortfall of half a million social and affordable dwellings. Around 35 per cent of Australian renters are in rental stress. Aussie households have almost two dollars of debt for every dollar of disposable income. Home ownership levels among younger people have collapsed, and Australian real estate is the second most expensive in the world. Yet in terms of policies that would boost the supply of social and affordable housing, provide relief for private renters or improve home ownership rates, the budget contained nothing.

Instead, the big-ticket item was relatively modest cuts to personal income tax for low-to-moderate income earners, and the promise of bigger cuts in seven years’ time. While some tax relief is welcome, it pales into insignificance in the face of Australia’s housing crisis. For a median income family, the proposed tax cut of $515 a year would barely cover one week’s rent. It is equivalent to 0.04 per cent of the deposit required to purchase a median-priced home in Sydney. Better than nothing, certainly, but only just.  

The omission of housing from the budget is particularly remarkable given the threat out of control housing costs poses to the economy. Households in rental stress inevitably cut back on consumption as do those with heavy debt loads who face the added threat of possible interest rate hikes. Both groups are highly sensitive to cost of living pressures. Any substantial decline in consumption risks sending the economy into a downward spiral as businesses cut costs by shedding staff, thereby reducing economic activity even further. Reduced economic activity has a flow-on impact on tax revenue, increasing the likelihood of additional borrowing to sustain services.  


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