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23 Aug 2018

Excellence in Innovation Award for Compass

On the 10th of August, Compass Housing's innovative approach to providing social and affordable housing was recognised after being named the winner of the Hunter Business Chamber Awards - Excellence in Innovation Award.
Compass was also a finalist in the Contribution to the Region Award.

Group Chief Corporate Services Officer, Lyndall Robertshaw, accepted the award. Ms Robertshaw said  it was an honour for the Compass team to be recognised against other high calibre organisations.
She said Compass was continually innovating to improve services for tenants, the working environment for its staff and to be more efficient.

“We also innovate because we want to influence the future and to make the community a better place for everyone,” Ms Robertshaw said.
“Compass has a great culture of innovation with staff looking to do things better as part of their working day,” she said.

Ms Robertshaw thanked Pitcher Partners for sponsoring the Award and the Hunter Business Chamber for hosting the event to recognise and support business excellence.

Compass is no stranger to the Awards taking out two major awards last year. Compass Housing was crowned with the Business Excellence Award for large organisations and Group Managing Director Greg Budworth was named Business Leader of the Year.

The Awards are the peak accolade for businesses and organisations based in the NSW Hunter region and are heralded as the premier regional business chamber awards in Australia. This year 77 finalists competed for 14 awards in addition to a President’s Award. This year’s Business Leader of the Year Award went to former NRMA Chairman and current HMRI Chairman Kyle Loades. The event was a sellout attended by almost 500 people.

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22 Aug 2018

Compass Report: Shocking gap between renters; costs and incomes revealed

A new report has revealed the shocking gap between the incomes of typical renting households and the incomes required to avoid housing stress in Australia’s three most populated states.

The Affordable Housing Income Gap Report, released on Tuesday 22 August by Compass Housing, takes a new approach to the measurement of housing affordability for renters. The Report establishes the amount of additional income required to avoid housing stress on various types of rental properties in more than 300 suburbs, towns and local government areas across New South Wales, Victoria and Queensland. This amount is referred to as the Affordable Housing Income Gap (AHIG).

Compass spokesperson Martin Kennedy said in many cases the median incomes of renting households were tens of thousands of dollars per year below the level required to secure a basic two-bedroom apartment without experiencing housing stress. The situation for renters seeking a 3-bedroom house is worse, with median incomes up to $100,000 per year short of the level required to avoid housing stress in certain areas.


Annual income to afford a 3br house

Amount above annual median income (AHIG)

Annual income to afford a 2br unit

Annual amount above median income (AHIG)

Inner Sydney





Inner Melbourne





Inner Brisbane






Housing stress is experienced by households with incomes up to 120% of the median that are paying more than 30% of their income on housing costs.

Mr Kennedy said the Report proved housing stress isn’t just a problem for low-income households. He said working families with average incomes are struggling to afford suitable rental properties close to where they work.

“To avoid housing stress in Sydney, Melbourne or Brisbane, a typical renting household often has to choose between living a considerable distance from the city or living in a one-bedroom apartment,” Mr Kennedy said.

“Neither of those things are practical for lots of families so they are effectively forced to accept living in housing stress. This can have a real impact on living standards because people in housing stress are less able to pay for other essentials like food, utilities, insurance, healthcare, childcare, and debt repayments.”

Mr Kennedy said that even in regional towns, where prices are nominally cheaper, comparatively lower household incomes mean renters in many areas still face significant affordability income gaps. The impact is particularly severe in “commuter belt” cities close to the capitals.

“The steady decline of housing affordability for renters is part of a broader housing crisis driven by a combination of low interest rates, preferential tax treatment for investors, rapid population growth, artificial rationing of land supply, high transfer duties, and a prolonged failure to invest in social and affordable housing.”

The Report recommends the creation of a national housing plan with initiatives crossing all levels of government. They include:

  • the construction of 500,000 social and affordable housing dwellings in the next 10 years,
  • reviewing the tax and transfer system to strike a fairer balance between the level of support provided to investors, first home buyers and renters
  • reforming state tenancy laws to provide greater security of tenure for renters and decrease demand for social housing.

Compass Housing is an Australian based not-for-profit, community housing provider that manages more than 4,500 properties in NSW, Queensland and New Zealand. The report is available from

Media information: Martin Kennedy, Compass Housing on 0418 353 913.

Full AHIG Report and media backgrounder are attached. Releases are also available for Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and other unaffordable key regional centres.


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23 Jul 2018

Compass Housing supports Hunter Homeless Connect Day

What: Hunter Homeless Connect Day

Where: Newcastle Showground Exhibition Centre

When: 25th July 2018 from 9am to 2pm

Some of the region’s most vulnerable people will receive a deserved helping hand on Wednesday (July 25) when local community organisations come together to run the annual Hunter Homeless Connect Day (HHCD).

The event will be held at Newcastle Showground Exhibition Centre. Compass Housing provides event co-ordination as part of its contribution as a member of Hunter Homeless Connect.

Approximately 1000 people who are, or are at risk of, experiencing homelessness are expected to receive support from more than 100 government and non-government services, TAFE representatives and volunteers in a welcoming and non-judgmental environment. Free services will include health checks, eye tests and glasses, hearing tests, immunisations, podiatry services and diabetes screening. Blankets, coats and toiletry packs donated by Hunter residents and businesses will also be available to those in need.

The theme of the event is “Respect: Everyone has a story”. As well as providing services to many who are doing it tough, HHCD is about raising awareness of the homelessness crisis nationally and in the region. It seeks to encourage community members to reconsider how they view people experiencing homelessness and what they can do to help.

Hunter Homeless Connect Day is convened by the not-for-profit organisation, Hunter Homeless Connect Inc. It is in its ninth year. For more information visit the Hunter Homeless Connect Day Facebook page or

Homelessness statistics

  • The Australia Bureau of Statistics (ABS) said that 116,42 people were homeless on census night in 2016, representing 50 homeless people per 10,000. 1,750 of those were experiencing homelessness in the Hunter region.
  • 28,000 Australians between 12-25 years old are experiencing homelessness every night.
  • 189,400 Australian households are waiting for social housing.
  • A survey conducted by Hunter TAFE students at the 2016 HHCD event revealed that for the first time, women outnumbered men among those seeking assistance. This was the case in 2017 too.

What can people do to help people experiencing homelessness?

  • Take the Newcastle & Hunter Ending Homelessness Pledge at the Hunter’s Big Ideas Homelessness Network’s website –
  • Volunteer for or donate to an organisation that is working to eliminate homelessness.
  • Provide training or work experience for people experiencing homelessness or at risk of homelessness.
  • Help change the language and attitudes. People experience homelessness, they aren’t “homeless”. Homelessness is not an identity. It's an event in a person's life – with a cause and a solution.


See how the Newcastle Herald covered the event

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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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