Access Housing secures National Standards for Mental Health Services accreditation

Access Housing is proud to announce the company has been awarded full accreditation against the National Standards for Mental Health Services.

Accrediting body Quality Innovation Performance Limited (QIP) advised Access Housing in late September that the company had achieved full accreditation, based on our best practice Independent Living Program (ILP) service delivery.

The ILP is a Mental Health Commission-funded program that enables people with severe and persistent mental health issues to live independently in the community, with supports in place to assist with sustaining tenancies.

Access Housing is one of several Community Housing providers delivering the ILP in Western Australia. We proudly provide homes to more than 270 tenants through the program. Our delivery of the ILP is premised on a Supportive Landlord service, which involves providing person-centred support linked to housing. The Supportive Landlord service model is itself underpinned by the National Standards of Mental Health Services and provides:

  • strength-based tenancy management;
  • support coordination that involves maintaining collaborative partnerships with mental health services;
  • tenant engagement and capacity building programs;
  • choice and control around how ILP tenants maintain their tenancy, wellbeing and connection to community; and
  • opportunities for ILP tenants and carers to have their say around the development, delivery and review of our ILP service.

Over the past 12 months, Access Housing enhanced our focus on consulting with tenants, carers, staff and external partners to refine our ILP service as we progressed on our journey for National Mental Health Service accreditation. In doing so, we continued to be amongst sector leaders in ILP service delivery. Throughout the review and enhancement of our ILP service, Access Housing provided meaningful opportunities for ILP tenants and carers to inform our ILP service delivery. Our ILP tenants and carers were provided with additional resources about the program, as well as opportunities to provide feedback via ILP Information and Feedback sessions, ILP tenant satisfaction surveys and via the Advisory Committee of Tenants ILP Tenant Representative.

Our accreditation against the National Standards for Mental Health Services is current until 21 September 2023.

Survey says satisfaction high

In 2020 Access Housing engaged the Community Housing Industry Association of New South Wales to conduct our annual Tenant Survey between 29 June – 26 July. A census approach was used and all 1,802 households managed by Access Housing as at 29 June were invited to participate in the survey. This year we received 599 valid survey responses (a 33% valid response rate).

The findings and feedback from the survey showed a high level of satisfaction amongst tenants with regards to our overall performance, customer service, property maintenance and communication during the 12 months preceding the survey.

Tenants gave Access Housing an excellent overall satisfaction rating of 92%. This rating is 17% higher than the satisfaction threshold set by the National Regulatory System for Community Housing and is 2% higher than our 2019 result. Other positive ratings included:

Condition of your home – 92%
Communication from Access Housing – 93%
Repairs: Staff helpful and attentive – 93%
Repairs: Contractor respectful and courteous – 94%
Overall satisfaction with repairs and maintenance – 90%

Thank you to all tenants who returned their completed survey to CHIA NSW before the survey closure date. Your feedback has helped us identify what is important to you and where we need to concentrate our improvements.

Congratulations to the following tenants who each won a gift card for completing the survey and returning it before the cut-off date:

Kenneth from Hilton, William from Greenfields, Ai Le from Bentley, Adrian from Winthrop, David from Hilton, Susanna from Hilton, Neville from Hillman, Margaret from Rockingham, Caitlin from Mandurah, Natalya from Thornlie, Mahmoud from Queens Park and Anthony from Withers.

Please remember that you don’t need to wait until next year’s survey to give us feedback. If you want to tell us how we are doing, call your local Access Housing office or email us at info@accesshousing.org.au.

Access Housing and FMCS collaborate to ‘tool up’ on disability inclusion

Fremantle Men’s Community Shed (FMCS) will enhance its capacity for the inclusion of people with a disability following the completion of The Shed project, which was done in collaboration with Access Housing and Access Housing tenants living with a disability.

The Shed project was an 18 month collaboration that aimed to identify areas of strength and where improvements could be made regarding FMCS’s inclusion of people with a disability to access and participate in activities like wood and metal work, gardening, volunteering and music at FMCS. The project was made possible thanks to a Department of Communities NDIS Information, Linkages and Capacity Building grant.

The Shed project measured engagement, aspiration and capacity outcomes for people with a disability and the sector (FMCS and support services) in regard to disability inclusion at FMCS. More than 50 people participated in the project, including Access Housing tenants living with a disability and their carers / support workers, FMCS and Men’s Shed WA representatives, disability support sector representatives and Access Housing staff.

Access Housing Tenant Support and Capacity Building Manager Alison Paterson said The Shed project’s model was underpinned by the acknowledgment that people with a disability are the experts in, and of, their own lives and are best placed to lead discussions on what works well and what doesn’t regarding inclusion and accessibility.

The Shed project used a co-design method where project participants shared experiences and challenges to develop solutions around disability inclusion at FMCS,” Ms Paterson said.

“Outcomes from co-design groups were analysed and inclusion strategies that were identified during groups were then trialled by project participants at FMCS.”

Fremantle Men’s Community Shed President Mark Thomas said FMCS collaborated with Access Housing and Access Housing tenants on the project to ensure FMCS was reaching its potential in terms of providing a best practice approach to full inclusion of people with a disability.

“The Fremantle Men’s Community Shed is committed to being as welcoming, safe, accessible and inclusive as possible for all members of the community,” Mr Thomas said.

“Our shed has proudly welcomed members of the community living with a disability over a number of years and we look forward to actioning and implementing recommendations from The Shed project report to enhance our existing levels of inclusion and accessibility.”

Findings and recommendations from The Shed project were presented today at FMCS to an audience including City of Fremantle councillors and staff, Department of Communities staff, Access Housing tenants who took part in the project, Men’s Sheds WA and FMCS representatives and disability support workers.

To view a summary report of The Shed project’s findings and recommendations, including those related to access, support, resourcing and inclusion strategies and initiatives at FMCS, please click here.

New policy to support tenants with disability and their co-resident carers

On Monday 6 July 2020 Access Housing put into effect the new Co-Resident Carer Rent Policy.

The policy incentivises people to become or remain a co-resident carer for people with disability who are living in social or Community Housing and incentivises social and Community Housing tenants with disability to seek a co-resident carer.

Under current rental policy, Access Housing tenants pay 25%* or 30%* of the household’s assessable income in rent. This includes all the assessable income of a co-resident carer. But under the new Co-Resident Carer Rent Policy, an approved co-resident carer will have their contributable rent capped at the current full rate of the Carer Payment, regardless of their total income that would otherwise be considered assessable under general rent setting policy. This ensures that the household rent remains affordable for the tenant, who is ultimately responsible for ensuring rent is paid.

To be considered a co-resident carer of an Access Housing tenant, carers must live in an Access Housing property and provide on-going care for the tenant they live with. For more information on who is considered a co-resident carer under this policy, click here to read our co-resident carer policy information sheet.

Tenants who think they may be eligible to have the Co-Resident Carer Rent Policy applied to their tenancy should not delay in contacting Access Housing.

If you would like more information, or if you would like to discuss whether the Co-Resident Carer Rent Policy is applicable to your tenancy, please contact your Tenancy Officer or our Rent Review Team on 9534 0400 or email rentreview@accesshousing.org.au.

*Band A households will have their assessable income capped at 25% and Band B households will have their assessable income capped at 30% as per our general rent setting policy.

The power of one – Housing Choices Australia Ltd and Access Housing Australia Ltd merge to become one of Australia’s largest Community Housing Providers

Western Australian-based Access Housing Australia Ltd and Housing Choices Australia Ltd (VIC, TAS, SA and NSW) are excited to announce they have joined forces and merged to become one of Australia’s largest Community Housing Providers.

Following an extensive due diligence period, both companies are pleased to now formally announce the merger, effective as of Wednesday 1 July 2020.

With Access Housing joining the Housing Choices Australia Group of Companies, the merged entity is now responsible for the management of nearly 7,000 social and affordable homes across Australia, with assets valued in excess of $900 million and with annual revenue of nearly $70 million.

Housing Choices Australia Ltd Chairperson Heather McCallum said the merger would enable the Group to provide more housing and opportunities for current and future residents while maintaining and advocating a ‘think national, act local’ vision that respects the local culture, history and tradition of both organisations.

“The Housing Choices federated model has been designed to balance the interests of each participating state by ensuring a local membership board and equal representation of each state on the national Board of Housing Choices,” Ms McCallum said.

“Under the model, each state business is able to realise the benefits from being a part of a national group, such as access to increased scale and expertise, while retaining strong local connections and preserving assets and investment at a state level.

“We think this approach is the best way to continue to deliver excellent outcomes for all stakeholders including, now, the people of Western Australia.”

Access Housing former Chairman David Lantzke has joined the Housing Choices Australia Board of Directors, as has former Access Housing Director Matt Raison.

Mr Lantzke said the new national organisation’s solid financial base and strong presence will help it meet the challenges of an emerging new age for the Community Housing sector.

“As a truly national Community Housing Provider, our scale and capacity will better position us to help inform and shape policy, both at national and state levels, as well as allow us to deliver a far broader and more innovative range of positive housing and community outcomes for some of Australia’s most vulnerable people,” Mr Lantzke said.

“From a WA-based service delivery perspective, the services Access Housing has provided to our tenants and the community will continue as usual, but with the additional support of our eastern states-based colleagues who we will be working with to determine and deliver best-practice affordable housing solutions to those in need.”

Housing Choices Australia Managing Director Michael Lennon (pictured) will lead the expanded organisation, with WA operations to be headed up by Executive General Manager (WA) Neil Starkie. Mr Starkie joined Access Housing in February 2020 in the role of Interim Chief Executive Officer as the companies worked to finalise the merger.

For more information about the exciting merger between Housing Choices Australia and Access Housing, please click here to read our merger FAQs.