Providing access to public housing is an important way that the
government assists those in housing need. This audit examined how
effectively the Department of Human Services (the department),
through its Housing and Community Building division (the division),
plans for and maintains public housing assets, to support current
and future access for eligible tenants.
The situation for public housing is critical. The current
operating model and asset management approach places the long-term
provision of this vital public service at risk.
The operating model, with costs increasingly exceeding revenues,
is unsustainable and the division is forecast to be in deficit in
2012–13. The department has not implemented longer-term
strategies to address this, instead using short-term approaches
such as reducing acquisitions and preventative maintenance. The
division now has an estimated 10 000 properties, 14 per cent of the
portfolio, nearing obsolescence and a significant maintenance
There is no current asset management strategy for the public
housing portfolio and past strategies do not meet Department of
Treasury and Finance guidelines or established asset management
practices. The department lacks basic information, such as accurate
property condition data, to inform strategic asset decisions.
The department is now working to develop a new Housing Framework
and has commenced financial modelling of new approaches and an
update of property data. As cost and demand pressures are unlikely
to abate, and the current model is not working, change is
necessary. New directions must innovate to so that access to public
housing can be better managed and sustainable into the future.