It gives me great pleasure to introduce Defence HousingAustralia’s (DHA’s) Annual Report 2019–20.
DHA achieved a great deal in the past year, despite a number of challenges. The Managing Director will comment more specifically on DHA’s operational achievements, however I wanted to highlight some key areas.
The context within which DHA operates is complex and constantly evolving. In 2019–20, we sought and received support from Shareholder Ministers to implement a revised business model which refocuses on our core purpose—providing Australian Defence Force (ADF) members and their families with housing services. We are working closely with the Departments of Defence and Finance, and are taking a phased approach to implementation to ensure alignment with government needs and minimise any potential impact on service delivery.
Audit of DHA operations
In April 2020, the Australian National Audit Office’s (ANAO) performance audit into the Management of Defence Housing Australia was tabled in the Senate and published on the ANAO website. The ANAO made four recommendations in its report (refer to the External scrutiny section for more detail). DHA agreed to all recommendations and is implementing them in consultation with the Department of Defence.
Natural disasters and COVID-19 pandemic
Natural disasters, such as the bushfires which engulfed much of south east Australia and the COVID-19 pandemic, challenged our traditional ways of doing business in 2019–20. In response, we developed innovative ways of delivering services and ensuring a safe workplace. On behalf of the Board I expend special thanks to our staff across the country who united to ensure we continued to meet the needs of our customers. Their tireless efforts, flexibility and dedication was, and continues to be, extraordinary.
Support of the Australian Government
In 2019–20, DHA worked very closely with Shareholder Ministers and their departmental representatives to ensure we continue to meet the current and future needs of the Australian Government.
DHA will return a dividend of $25.6 million for 2019–20, a substantial effort given the challenges I outlined above.
I would like to thank the Minister for Defence, Senator the Hon Linda Reynolds CSC, the Minister for Finance, Senator the Hon Mathias Cormann, and the Minister for Defence Personnel, the Hon Darren Chester MP, for their continued support of DHA.
Support of the Defence community
DHA acknowledges that our primary purpose is to provide adequate and suitable housing and related services for ADF members and their families. We are also proud members of the broader Defence community and play an important role in supporting Defence capability to defend our country.
In 2019–20, DHA was a proud partner of Integra Service Dogs Australia and their project which selects, trains and places assistance dogs with ADF veterans or members. We also supported various ADF sporting organisations, the Australian Military Wives Choir and the Prince’s Trust.
As well as our major and sporting partnerships, we have a long history of supporting small community organisations that play a key role in the Defence community. In 2019–20, we supported the Randwick Family Centre in Sydney, Pearce Community Group in Perth, Duntroon Community Centre in Canberra and Karrakatta Community House in Perth.
Our presence at these events provides a positive interaction between DHA, ADF members and their families, and also highlights our brand and services to other Defence support groups and key stakeholders.
Support of the broader community
One of the most pleasing aspects of DHA’s national operations is that we can contribute to local and regional economies. In 2019–20, we continued to employ local businesses and tradespeople wherever possible in maintaining our property portfolio, constructing new properties and creating new residential communities.
Appointments and acknowledgements
The Australian Government appoints and reappoints DHA Board members to serve at their pleasure. The current composition of members brings together a diverse range of skills and experience, and I thank them for their service.
In 2019–20, I welcomed the reappointment of Ms Andrea Galloway and Mr Ewen Jones as commercial directors. I also welcomed the appointment of Brigadier Leigh Wilton AM as the nominee of the Chief of the Defence Force and Ms Kate Louis as the nominee of the Secretary of the Department of Defence. The Board and I value their knowledge and experience, especially in relation to residential property, the ADF and Defence industry.
I also acknowledge and thank former Board members, Commodore Vicki McConachie CSC RAN and Mr Martin Brady AO. Both brought considerable experience and pragmatism to the Board, especially in their respective roles as Chair of the DHA Advisory Committee and Chair of the Board Audit Committee. The Board and I will miss their wise counsel and wish them well in their future endeavours.
I wish to congratulate the Hon Alan Ferguson who was made a Member of the Order of Australia in the 2020 Queen’s Birthday Honours for significant service to the Australian Parliament and the South Australian community.
I wish to acknowledge Mr Barry Jackson and his exemplary leadership of DHA over the past 12 months. The Board and I thank him for his efforts, particularly in relation to development and implementation of the revised business model, and oversight of DHA’s response to the ANAO audit and operations throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.
I would like to acknowledge and thank the senior leadership team and all staff for their ongoing efforts and achievements in 2019–20.
The Board and I are consistently impressed and thankful for the professionalism and commitment to service that is displayed. DHA has highly motivated people at every level of the organisation and I thank them for their teamwork and commitment to our purpose.
There are always challenges in a business as large and complex as DHA, but I am confident we will continue to navigate them and deliver quality outcomes for ADF families, landlords and shareholders in 2020–21.