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Collaboration is the key to unlock social and affordable housing


7 November 2012

Key stakeholders driving the future of Australia's social and affordable housing agenda convened today at a Westpac Institutional Bank hosted forum, forging a path for the sustainable development of the sector.

Westpac’s second Annual Social and Affordable Housing Forum brought together over 100 delegates from government, industry regulators, not-for-profit organisations, urban planners, builders, financiers and advisors to identify and develop innovative responses to the range of challenges the social housing sector faces.

The social and affordability housing sector is already well overstretched. According to Homelessness Australia, each day nearly 1 in every 200 Australians is homeless, without safe, secure or affordable housing. Last year, 220,000 Australians received support from specialist homelessness services.

Opening the forum, Westpac Institutional Bank’s Managing Director Property, Government & Infrastructure Mark John said “the only way Australia will overcome this diverse and complex problem is if all sectors of the industry come together with a collaborative approach.”

“A sustainable future for this sector will require development of alternative models of social and affordable housing including; government owning and managing assets as it has done historically, the ongoing vesting of State social housing assets to the not-for-profit sector as well as the private sector providing these assets through public and private partnerships.”

Key learnings from experiences in the United Kingdom were one of the main topics at the forum and highlighted how a vibrant social and affordable community housing sector is within reach for Australia through successful consultation with all stakeholders in the industry.

“Westpac’s interest in this sector is driven in part by our social and sustainability agenda but also by the belief Australia can benefit from similar opportunities as in the UK where the sector has grown from small beginnings into a major contributor to the UK housing market,” said Jon Ross Westpac Institutional Bank, Executive Director Property Government & infrastructure.

 “Westpac is supporting the opportunity to drive best practice at the formative stage of this industry to ensure that will become sustainable and viable in the future,”

The opportunity exists for a number of emerging and professionally run not-for-profit organisations to drive a viable growth path for this sector of the housing industry. Alternative models can fundamentally change the financial and risk profiles of these traditional businesses and will introduce new levels of risk management as well as corporate governance to the not-for-profit model.

Westpac’s Social and Affordable Housing Forum program included 10 expert speakers and panel discussions covering a range of topics including the National Regulatory Regime, How banks assess risk, Asset vesting verses PPPs, Issues from a State perspective and The UK experience.

About Westpac Institutional Bank

Westpac Institutional Bank (WIB) delivers a broad range of financial services to commercial, corporate, institutional and government customers with connections to Australia and New Zealand.
WIB operates through dedicated industry relationship and specialist product teams with expert knowledge in transactional banking, financial and debt capital markets, specialised capital, and alternative investment solutions.

Customers are supported through Westpac branches and subsidiaries located in Australia, New Zealand, United States, United Kingdom and Asia.