ahi Brighter Future Awards

Shelter WA’s Paula O’Leary has received the Australasian Housing Institute’s (ahi) WA Branch Committee Future Leader Award for demonstrating leadership potential through her sector work.

Her award was one of six highlighted at the Ahi’s Brighter Future Awards which included two new categories — the Future Leader Award and Response to COVID-19 Award.


Since 2004 the ahi Brighter Future Awards have recognised the wonderful contribution made by dedicated housing professionals across Australia and New Zealand. Awards go to housing professionals and companies who have made a significant and lasting difference to tenants or service users, to their community, their colleagues and profession.

The ahi WA Branch Committee held their presentations on Friday, 3 December at Doubletree Northbridge. Each award was presented by Mike Rowe the Director General at Department of Communities; Sabine Winton MLA, Member for Wanneroo representing John Carey MLA, Minister for Housing; and Sean Kelly, WA Director Australasian Housing Institute.

Future Leader Award

Shelter WA’s Paula O’Leary joined Vinnies WA in 2016 as a Tenancy Officer. Through her work they realised a different approach was needed to approach how their properties were managed and to understand the complexities of managing tenancies.

In 2017 a new role was created for Paula as a Housing Services Manager where she project-managed key issues and introduced processes to bring the service in line with current practises and ensuring both legislation and compliance are addressed.

This year Shelter WA was awarded a COVID-19 Grant by Lotterywest to build the capacity of the four WA-based Aboriginal Community Housing Organisations (ACHO). The aim of this project, run by Paula, is to optimise current assets and drive professionalism and understanding the impact of the pandemic and how these organisations can structure their businesses to mitigate future risk.

Outstanding Achievement

Kathryn Moorey the Chief Executive Officer at Stellar Living Ltd is a highly respected leader within the housing sector in WA. Kathryn’s leadership of the community housing sector is well recognised and is the first name to be mentioned when the sector is looking for broader representation to government. She has dedicated her working life to social and affordable housing as a career pathway, starting with a Degree in Social Housing from the United Kingdom. Kathryn has built alliances and friendships across businesses, government, and other sectors, all with the aim of contributing to the overall aim of increasing both the reach and reputation of the housing sector.

Response to COVID-19

Vinnies WA received this award in the way they created several tenant centric initiatives and amended their tenancy management and support practices in response to COVID-19, ensuring tenants stay at the heart of all they do, with their needs continuing to be met.

The rapid introduction of these initiatives ensured impact to tenant’s service delivery was significantly reduced and tenant’s wellbeing was placed at the centre of each response which led to positive outcomes for both tenants and Vinnies WA. The procedures and practices adapted by Vinnies could be easily adopted by other organisations, including for scenarios other than a global pandemic.

They included a trauma informed and person-centred approach to transparency and informative communication, developing new permanent programs and tenant support from temporary COVID-19 support measures and incorporating technology better into our day to day allowing for flexible service delivery.

Inspirational Team Member

Sarah Tutolo has become a real force for transformation as Noongar Mia Mia’s Tenancy Management Coordinator. She led the design and implementation of a whole-of-person tenancy support service. She goes above and beyond to support and advocate for tenants and families by proactively looking for opportunities to make lives better for tenants and their families.

Sarah acts with cultural awareness and sensitivity, getting to know people to build relationships of trust with them so she can guide, support, educate and empower. She has turned her own role to become so much more, in a way that’s shaped Noongar Mia Mia, its direction and the day-to-day of what they do.

Leading Innovation

Elevate by Foundation Housing is a new, Australian first innovative model for affordable housing launched into the WA market. Foundation Housing is a registered Tier One community housing provider with expertise in property development, tenancy management and support. It manages a portfolio of homes worth over $650m with over 2,100 tenancies under management and has ownership interest in more than $200m of assets around Western Australia.

To meet the growing need for affordable housing, Foundation Housing launched its Elevate program, using a new and sustainable financial model that provides high quality and rent controlled homes for essential workers and builds long-term assets for Foundation Housing. By targeting essential workers, the program supports those who are critical for the successful function of the community. The program has so far created 100 new affordable homes and twelve new social housing homes.

Elevate by Foundation Housing has also successfully demonstrated to the social housing sector the viability of a new model for affordable and social housing that builds long-term independent assets that can be used to fund future programs.

Excellence in Social Housing

ReSet is a consortium consisting of four frontline agencies, Wungening Aboriginal Corporation as the lead agency, Centrecare, St Bart’s and the Wirrpanda Foundation.

It provides support to men and women while in prison and after leaving prison, so that they can have a new beginning that is meaningful and breaks the cycle of offending. For some prisoners being released, residing in the home of a family member, friend, or significant other is not an option. This may be the result of family conflict, the reluctance of family members to welcome an individual back into their lives, or the lack of family or friends. In some cases, there are legal conditions to consider.

ReSet runs nineteen single site properties with outreach onsite support. Support provided can vary from low to high intensity, in line with the client’s needs. The provision of tenancy and support services are integrated. All clients residing in ReSet Transitional Housing are actively involved in their recovery journey and are seeking longer term housing.

National Housing Conference

Each category winner goes to the Australasian Awards where the overall winners will be announced at a Gala dinner on the first night of the Australian Housing and Urban Research Institute National Housing Conference in Melbourne on Wednesday, 2 March.