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Managing Director's review

In 2019–20, DHA continued to deliver strongly against our core purpose of providing housing and related services to ADF members and their families, while adapting to the dynamic environment we operate in.

Over the year we focused on reviewing our operations and implementing a revised business model to ensure DHA supports Defence capability, is sustainable and delivers value to the Australian Government. External factors continued to challenge our traditional ways of doing business. Unstable property markets in some regions, evolving housing preferences and rapid changes in the societal, technological, environmental and economic context compelled us to undertake a number of activities to address these challenges and better position DHA to continue to meet the housing needs of ADF members in a financially sustainable way.

We also experienced significant challenges due to bushfires, hailstorms and the COVID-19 pandemic, resulting in us developing innovative ways of delivering services to ensure we continued to meet the needs of our customers during these crises.

Performance highlights

Some of the highlights and achievements in 2019–20 include:

  • DHA met the targets for housing to be provided for Members with Dependents and continued to put customers at the centre of everything we do, exceeding all customer satisfaction performance measures.
  • Our financial results exceeded expectations, in part due to refocusing provisioning strategies on lower risk and less capital intensive methods, such as leasing. This was further supported by bringing forward the delivery of properties for sale in markets where demand was strong, for example the Akuna Vista development in Schofields (NSW).
  • Working with Defence to provide greater choice in housing options in response to ADF member preferences.
  • DHA supported the Defence Joint Taskforce response to the bushfires in 2019–20. Between October 2019 and February 2020, DHA provided assistance to 24 Defence bases and allocated 5,500 Living in Accommodation beds to civilian and Defence evacuees.
  • DHA staff quickly transitioned to home based work, where possible, in response to COVID-19. This was supported by cybersecurity awareness resources, video conferencing solutions, additional network capacity, a suite of system changes to enable increased digital customer engagement and property inspections conducted by phone. All face to face interactions and non-urgent maintenance were cancelled, with inspections carried out virtually.
  • Adopting a new technology strategy and initiating projects that will deliver scalable, sustainable and fit for purpose technology to support the revised business model.

Priorities for the year ahead

Our primary purpose remains. We will continue to put ADF members and their families at the heart of our operations. However, like other organisations, we face challenges and opportunities: property markets are more volatile, the expectations of ADF members and their families, as well as our staff, have changed, and we are in the midst of a global health crisis which will have unknown economic consequences. With the world in which we operate continuing to evolve and facing new disruptions, we must continue to evolve and ensure we remain relevant by implementing more efficient and sustainable ways to deliver our services.

In the coming year, DHA will focus on:

  • continuing to support Defence capability by meeting the evolving needs of the ADF including through the ADF Employment Offer Modernisation program
  • refreshing our information technology systems and making it easier for ADF members and their families to do business with us when it suits them
  • implementing regional provisioning strategies that focus on flexibility and reduce exposure to volatile property markets
  • strengthening coordination and decision making processes to maintain a financially sustainable business
  • aligning our revenues to services delivered focuses on ensuring a clear link between DHA activities, their costs and the revenues earned from performing them
  • implementing a sustainable organisational structure and building the workforce capabilities required to deliver under the revised business model.

We will continue to adapt our approach to the dynamic environment in which we operate. As a national organisation, with our property portfolio spanning every Australian state and territory, we need to continue to be flexible in order to respond to environmental factors which impact our operations on local, regional and national levels.

The Leadership Team and I are committed to ensuring DHA builds and maintains a high performing culture that encourages inspiring leadership and supports our strategic direction. We expect our leaders to model Australian Public Service (APS) values, be accountable, visible, effective, trusted and make informed evidence based decisions.

DHA is committed to maintaining a safe workplace where any individual or group feels welcomed, respected, valued and able to fully participate and contribute. This includes a commitment to recognise, appreciate and celebrate our country’s rich and unique Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and cultural heritages across every facet of the organisation. We will do this through meaningful opportunities for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, for example by participating in the Indigenous Apprenticeships Program and increasing opportunities for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander suppliers in order to support improved economic and social outcomes.

Over 2019–20 there have already been significant changes to our business and there are more to come as we continue to improve and refine the housing services we provide. During the year I have been impressed by the commitment of DHA staff as they embraced the challenges and opportunities to innovate. Over the coming year we will continue to innovate to improve our processes, systems and ways of working.

I would also like to thank the Board and our Shareholder Ministers for their support while leading DHA through this period of significant reform.

Mr Barry Jackson
Managing Director