Public Consultations on the National Regulatory System for Community Housing Final Report

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Public Consultations on the National Regulatory System for Community Housing

Final Report

14 February 2012

Contents

Executive Summary 1

Introduction 2

Regulation of community housing 2

National Regulatory System for Community Housing 3

Regulation Impact Statement 6

Public consultations 6

Public consultation report 7



Perceived costs and benefits 7

Perceived benefits of the NRSCH 7

Potential risks and additional costs 9

National Law 10

Subordinate instruments 11

Definition of community housing assets 11

Incorporation requirements 12

Registration tiers 14

Role of the Registrar 14

Registrar powers 15

Appeals 18

Linkages to NRAS Regulations 18

National Regulatory Code 19

Principles of good regulation 19

Tenant outcomes (Outcomes 1, 2 and 3) 19

Housing assets (Outcome 2) 20

Community engagement (Outcome 3) 20

Organisational health (Outcomes 4, 5, 6 and 7) 21



Implementation issues 21

Governance 21

Development of operating guidelines 21

Quality assurance 23

Timing 23

Support and resources 23

Direct costs 24

Transitional arrangements 24

Reporting obligations 24

Partnerships 25

State/ territory policy and funding agencies 25

Provider-specific issues 26

Jurisdiction-specific provider issues 26

Multi-jurisdictional providers 26

Tier 3 providers 27

Regional and remote providers 27

Multi-functional and specialist providers 27

Indigenous community housing organisations 28

Tenant issues 29

Finance sector feedback 30

Preferred option 31

Commitment to growth and diversity of the sector 32

Refinement of the design elements 32

Development of NRSCH operating guidelines 34

Ongoing stakeholder input 34

Broader reform agenda 34



Attachment 1: Public consultation process 35

National consultation forums 35

State/ territory consultation forums 35

Extended written submissions 36



Attachment 2: Jurisdiction-specific feedback 37

New South Wales 37

Victoria 41

Queensland 46

South Australia 53

Western Australia 56

Tasmania 60

Northern Territory 63

Australian Capital Territory 68




Executive Summary


There was strong in-principle support across the full range of stakeholders for the National Regulatory System for Community Housing (NRSCH) over the status quo—conditional on adequately addressing key risks and concerns as part of the final drafting of the National Law and the detailed development of the operating guidelines for the new system.

The main reason for stakeholder support for the NRSCH related to the

greater flexibility for providers to pursue growth opportunities—both through streamlined regulatory arrangements for providers working across jurisdictions and through clear pathways between regulatory tiers for single jurisdiction providers

reduced barriers to negotiating commercial arrangements with finance and development partners—who will no longer have to deal with the complexity of considering the implications of separate state/ territory regulatory systems

consistency with national competition policy objectives—in particular, by supporting a more level playing field for providers seeking to enter new jurisdictions and for providers wanting to operate in more than one jurisdiction

greater consistency in the achievement of tenant outcomes—driven by national standards that apply to all providers and in all participating states/ territories

greater opportunity under the National Regulatory System to leverage off and share existing regulatory systems and practice—both through greater collaboration and communication; and allowing jurisdictions without a statutory regulatory system to cost-effectively participate in the national system

increased scope for sector efficiencies (if the National Regulatory System is supported by funding and policy settings that allow providers to achieve economies of scale)

greater potential for the collection and reporting of nationally consistent sector information.

For a small minority of stakeholders, mainly representing smaller providers, their preference, based on the information available during the consultations, was to remain with the status quo. They highlighted that

too few details were known about the actual regulatory burden under the proposed NRSCH to support it at this time—given that the level of regulatory burden would only be known once the Evidence Guidelines had been developed

too few details were known about how state/ territory policy and funding agencies would use the NRSCH—in particular what registration requirements would have to be met by providers to retain existing funding or access future funding or investments

there were concerns about an additional regulatory burden on providers if state/ territory policy and funding agencies did not streamline reporting requirements under funding programs after the introduction of the NRSCH

there were concerns that the effort of changing to the NRSCH may not be worth it if there were not additional reforms to achieve greater national consistency in policy and funding settings needed to deliver growth.

On balance, Housing Ministers can be confident of proceeding with the proposed National Regulatory System for Community Housing with the support of providers, tenant representative organisations and the finance sector. Subject to the qualifications outlined in this report, the NRSCH is the preferred option of the Community Housing Federation of Australia (CHFA), Homelessness Australia, the National Association of Tenant Organisations (NATO), National Disability Services and National Shelter.

However, maintaining this strong support will require the following.

Reinforcement of Housing Ministers’ commitment to the growth and diversity of the community housing sector

A number of decisions about refinements to the design elements for the NRSCH—most importantly

clarifying whether the requirement to transfer surplus community housing assets in the event of wind-up [Clause 13 (2) (a)] only applies to those assets linked to government assistance (i.e. “regulated community housing assets”)

refining the definition of Community Housing Assets [Clause 4] to distinguish assets linked to government assistance from other assets purchased or developed without any direct or indirect government assistance

retaining the power to issue binding instructions [Clause 18] but clarifying their purpose and scope

retaining the power to appointment a Statutory Manager [Clause 19] but clarifying the scope of their function

extending the range of appealable decisions [Clause 22 (10)] to include decisions about the appointment of a Primary Registrar and decisions about an organisation’s registration tier

Extensive stakeholder input into the detailed development of the Evidence and Intervention Guidelines for the NRSCH

Strong stakeholder representation on the National Regulatory Council to ensure the integrity of the implementation of the NRSCH

Progress in expanding the reform agenda to ensure national consistency in the full range of controls that impact on the growth of the community.

Some stakeholders expressed disappointment at the limited scope of reform covered by the NRSCH—indicating that a truly national system based on competitive neutrality between community housing providers and state housing authorities would have delivered a more substantial reform for the sector and better outcomes for tenants.

Other stakeholders were more optimistic and viewed the NRSCH as a key foundation stone that provides the framework for other national reforms to achieve sustainable growth in the community housing sector.




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