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Innisfail Youth & Family Care Inc (Wet Tropics) Accreditation

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					Accreditation Status Report

The Report

This report provides an overview of Wet Tropics Community Housing’s performance in
relation to the National Community Housing Standards. Wet Tropics is auspiced by Innisfail
Youth & Family Care Inc (IY&FC).

The report consists of two main parts:

     Accreditation Status Report
     Accreditation Evaluation Report

Accreditation Status Report includes:

     recommended / current accreditation status
     background information about the organisation’s work and history
     an overview of the evaluation team’s assessment of the organisation’s performance,
      identifying major achievements as well as major areas for improvement
     Evaluation Team
     methodology.

It is important to note that the Accreditation Status Report, for accredited
organisations only, will be made publicly available on the CHSAU Website –

The evaluation team has assessed the organisation’s performance by rating each standard
against a five-point scale, as outlined below:

    Surpassed       Performance meets expectations in all of the three categories of evidence
                    (documentation, processes, measuring outcomes), and at least one category
                    has exceeded expectations.
    Met             Performance meets expectations in all of the three categories of evidence
                    (documentation, processes, measuring outcomes).
    Partially Met   Where there are no categories of evidence (documentation, processes,
                    measuring outcomes) not met, and any of the three categories is partially met.
    Not Met         Where there is a not met rating in any of the three categories of evidence
                    (documentation, processes, measuring outcomes).
    Not             The standard cannot be met by the organisation because external legislation,
    Applicable      organisation definition or funding policy guidelines prevents them from doing so.

Accreditation Status

Innisfail Youth and Family Care Incorporated (Wet Tropics Community Housing) has been
awarded three year accreditation from 15 September 2009 to 14 September 2012.

Summary of Feedback from Tenants and Other Stakeholders

The evaluation team considered the results of the tenant survey conducted by the
organisation in May/June 2008. Thirty-seven tenants completed the survey and the
evaluation team sighted responses from twelve tenants and interviewed one tenant.

Overall tenants were very satisfied or satisfied with the service provided by the organisation,
the way they were treated by housing staff, the support provided by the organisation and
with referrals to other agencies. A similar level of satisfaction was expressed in regard to
questions around the maintenance of properties although a couple of tenants were
somewhat dissatisfied with the condition of their home, the lack of fencing and locks.

The tenant interviewed had been with the organisation for five years and expressed
complete satisfaction with the services and support of the organisation. Comments ranged
from “willing to give you a chance when others wouldn’t”, “they listened” and “staff are helpful
and nice”.

The co-ordinating evaluator spoke with a neighbouring Tenancy Advice & Advocacy
Services (TAASQ) and the Tenants’ Union in Cairns and they advised they had little contact
with tenants and no knowledge of any issues with the organisation. Advice from the funding
body indicated there were no compliance issues with the organisation.

External agencies contacted advised they have a high regard for the staff and the work of
the organisation and consider Wet Tropics provides a service which is of excellent value for
tenants, landlords and the community.

Overall Summary of Major Achievements including Areas of Excellence

Wet Tropics Community Housing is centrally located in spacious newly refurbished office
accommodation which is accessible by stairs and by lift for wheelchairs and prams. The
office has been fitted out with the tenants and housing staff in mind and privacy, security and
comfort is paramount. The office is within walking distance to Centrelink, the Court House
and banks.

The housing staff provide intensive tenancy management over and beyond the role of a
tenancy manager and examples were provided of support and assistance to tenants in
extreme distress to minimise the impact of their need to move to alternative accommodation.
Wet Tropic’s philosophy is to work with tenants if there are issues rather than commencing
with a Notice to Remedy. Time spent with tenants when undertaking property inspections is
seen as an opportunity to improve relationships and provide a valuable source of feedback.

The organisation operates a white goods initiative which enables tenants to borrow to
purchase white goods and re-pay the loan to the organisation. The organisation has never
had anyone default on their re-payments.

Overall Summary of Strategic Recommendations

Allocation of Housing

That procedures are updated to more specifically outline the steps in the allocation practice
including the requirement that a sub-committee is responsible for making the allocation
decision and detailing the make-up of the sub-committee.

Tenant Rights

That the language around Tenant Rights needs to be strengthened to demonstrate a total
commitment to a culture of the rights of tenants as individuals in addition to a focus on tenant
rights and responsibilities as required under the RTA.

Tenant Participation

That Wet Tropics uses a tenant focus group to research ways that tenants would best
respond to participation in the organisation and develop a broader range of strategies to
address tenant participation and ensure avenues for tenant participation are continually

Access to Services

That the policy and procedures are updated to capture the legislative requirements around
equality of access, disability, racial discrimination, equal opportunities and privacy.

Building Community Capacity

That the organisation is able to demonstrate how outcomes achieved as a result of
community capacity building has contributed to sustainable improvements in the lives of
tenants and the community.

A review needs to measure not just how much activity there has been but to consider what
benefits were gained for the organisation, tenants and the wider community. Realistic
measurements on what the work undertaken is intended to achieve need to be set in the
planning stage.

Good Governance

That the governing body:

   reviews the effectiveness of its own processes and structure in providing good
    governance to the organisation using the review of operations outlined in the standards
    manual 5.2.6

   continually works at defining the boundaries around its relationships to ensure there is no
    room for a conflict of interest to occur

   implements a risk assessment plan.

Planning and Development

That the organisation develops a strategic plan and a risk assessment plan and that the
planning process includes obtaining input from tenants, external stakeholders and
community agencies.

A strategic plan needs to include links between the planned activities and goals of the
organisation and the training and development objectives of staff, volunteers, members and
governing body members.

Organisational Review

That the organisation implements a strategic planning process and an annual planning day.
Refer to the standards manual for guidance.

Financial Systems

   that the Financial Management and Delegations policy and the Budget policy be
    expanded to include financial management procedures

   that a monthly or quarterly budget and cash flow projections is prepared

   that the budget is revised as necessary to ensure debts and expected expenditure can
    be paid and the service is viable and sustainable

   that a comprehensive monthly Treasurer’s Report is developed to ensure effective
    management and accountability

   that procedures are developed to ensure financial assistance received, rent received,
    other income, interest earned, fees charged are used for the agreed purpose stated in
    the assistance agreements

   that procedures are developed and included in the Financial Management and
    Accountability Policy for reviewing the financial systems to ensure checks and balances
    are in place and internal reviews conducted.

Supervision, Training and Development of Staff

   that performance reviews are implemented consistently

   that timeframes for performance reviews are documented in the policy and procedures in
    lieu of “an agreed and regular procedure” to ensure performance reviews occur and that
    they occur at designated intervals for all employees

   that an annual staff survey is undertaken to enable staff to raise issues or comment on
    situations they may find difficult to address through other means.

Background information about the organisation

History, location and community served

Wet Tropics was officially formed in December 1991 commencing with 12 properties and
managed by a sub-committee of volunteers. In July 1993, the number of properties
increased to 17 and, in September 1993, Innisfail Youth & Family Care Inc (IY&FC) took
over as the auspice. In September 1998 the property quota increased to 23 and now stands
at 29 although 45 properties were leased at the time of the evaluation owing to an
accumulated surplus.

Innisfail is bordered by the Great Barrier Reef and the World Heritage Wet Tropics
Rainforest. Industries in the area include sugar cane, bananas, fishing, aquaculture, tropical

fruit agriculture, manufacturing and tourism. The history and culture of the region date back
to the first discoverers.

Innisfail was reported in the 2001 Census as having a population of 8989.

Today, Innisfail remains very multicultural, with a prominent population of Indigenous
Australians, as well as people from Europe, in particular Italy, India and East Asia (in
particular Hmong people).

Innisfail township only has two secondary schools and a single business district. Being a
small community and one that was recently subjected to a severe natural disaster, Innisfail is
infused with a real sense of community.

Services provided by the Organisation

The main activities of the organisation are to:

    provide housing to low income applicants in the Innisfail region
    maintain tenancies for the benefit of tenants, lessors and Wet Tropics
    assist tenants to move into a Department of Communities property or move back into
     private rental.

Number of staff employed listing job titles and identifying the hours allocated to these

Housing Manager                  full time    38 hours per week
Administration Officer           part time    23 hours per week
Administration Officer           casual       on call

Property Portfolio

45 Properties – all leasehold in Innisfail and surrounding areas, no further than 15kms from
the town area.

Target group/s

Identified Target Groups are:

Single People                                                25%
People with disabilities                                     14%
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people                 54%
Women and Children escaping domestic violence                5%
No specific group                                            18%

Applicants on the waiting list                               149

Number of tenancies managed


Income sources

Funding is through the Community Rent Scheme administered by the Department of

Management/Governance structure

Innisfail Youth & Family Care auspices Wet Tropics and operates under a management
committee structure.

Key issues over the past 12 months

The key issues have revolved around reducing the number of properties due to the reduction
in surplus funds. Wet Tropics is funded for 29 properties but has been able to lease 47
properties in the past due to the availability of surplus funds. When leases come up for
renewal they are not being renewed.

The other main challenge has been preparing for accreditation with a new housing Manager
who has been in the role for only seven months.

Key Goals for next 12 months

   To continue to assist those in the greatest of need with housing and other services
    where applicable.

   To reduce properties to 35.

   To continue implementing and amending policies and procedures.

   Staff training.

The Evaluation Team

Coordinator:              Pat Rickard

Peer Evaluator:           Elvene Whitbread


Prior to the accreditation evaluation the service used the Self-Evaluation Workbook to
evaluate its own performance. The evaluation team then conducted a desk-top assessment
of information and documentation provided by the organisation. This was followed by an on-
site evaluation.

The external evaluation process involved gathering and assessing an extensive amount of
information and documentation and included:

   reviewing the organisation report and other documentation and evidence of various kinds
   conducting a range of interviews with management members and staff
   inspecting office facilities and equipment
   assessing policies and procedures
   reviewing the tenancy and property record audit reports
   interviewing and/or surveying tenants
   reviewing reports on the results of surveys of tenants and other organisations
    undertaken by the organisation
   interviewing or seeking feedback from key community agencies and the funding body.


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