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CEO’s Intro

Tenant Newsletter Issue 49 | Winter 2020 Dear NCCH Tenants, Welcome to the Winter issue of our Tenant Newsletter. Over the past few months, since our last newsletter, we have certainly been living under very different—and sometimes difficult—conditions, as we negotiated our way through the COVID-19 pandemic and all the restrictions placed on us that have impacted our lives. COVID-19 Update As relayed in our last newsletter, NCCH has a Business Continuity Plan which includes a section for pandemics and we have utilised this plan as we negotiated our way through the changing restrictions during the pandemic. Our Exec Team, together with our Quality & Compliance Manager Richard Burns, have worked continuously throughout the COVID-19 pandemic so that NCCH can provide tenants with details of our approach and how it will impact our tenants on our website & Facebook pages, as well as via SMS “blasts” to tenants with mobile phones.

SINSIDE THIS ISSUE: CEO’s Intro .................................... 1-2 Updates & Info ................................ 3-6 Community Noticeboard ................. 7-9 Emergency Contractors List ............ 10 SPECIAL POINTS OF INTEREST: Scholarships Program ....................... 2 Together Home project ...................... 2 In Memoriam...................................... 2 Property & Development update ....... 3

The important thing is to keep yourself informed and follow the guidelines set out by the Australian Government Department of Health, NSW Health and the World Health Organisation (WHO); if you or a member of your family display any of the symptoms of the virus, please get tested! We will continue to keep you updated on any changes to our operations and if you have any questions please don’t hesitate to give us a call.

Winter Safety in the Home ................ 3

At the time of writing, the NSW Government has been gradually winding back the COVID-19 restrictions to return all of us to more of a normal way of life, even though things may have to be done differently.

New-look Tenant Statements ............ 5

We ask that you contact us if COVID-19 has had an impact on your employment or if your income has been affected by the loss of employment or reduction in hours. Please get in touch with us so we can work through the issue and make sure we work with you to sustain your tenancy in these prolonged difficult times. We are here to help!

Important info re NCCH offices ......... 4 From our Tenant Council ................... 4 Operations Team update ................... 5 Feros Care Virtual Social Centre....... 6 Counselling Services, Transport info & NCCH contact info ............................ 7 Rebates and Energy savings ............ 8 EWON Support & Poetry Corner ....... 9

The process around attending to maintenance calls as a result of the COVID-19 situation continues (see page 3 of this newsletter), and I ask that as we all go through these trying times, we try and remain courteous to each other and recognise that everyone at NCCH is trying to do their best to assist you in your tenancy. We are now working on our plans to open up our offices again and will let you know the details once we have finalised our plans.  We said farewell, at the end of June, to one of the Tenancy Managers in our Richmond (Lismore) office—Anne McArdle—who has decided to move to a warmer climate and be close to family. We wish Anne well and I would like to thank her for her efforts and commitment to her role with NCCH during the time she worked with us. 

Until next time, stay safe and stay well … John McKenna

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On behalf of the Exec Team, I would like to acknowledge and thank our staff for the work carried out by them during the COVID-19 pandemic.

NCCH acknowledges the Bundjalung, Arakwal, Gumbaynggir and Yaegl peoples who are the traditional custodians of the land that comprises the Northern Rivers.

Providing homes, Improving lives, Strengthening communities


CEO’s Intro continued

Tenant Newsletter Issue 49 | Winter 2020 NCCH Scholarships Program Congratulations to our two successful Scholarship applicants for Round One of 2020—Lakota an d Kabe. Du e to COVID r estr ictions, w e w er e un able to have a special presentation, however we will be sure to provide some photos of Lakota & Kabe with their certificates in our next issue of the Newsletter. Round Two application s open on 1 September w ith a closing date of 13 October 2020. In the meantime, if you would like more information, please check out our website: https://www.ncch.org.au/ncch-scholarships-program/ or give Julie a call on (02) 6627 5315.

Together Home Program—Securing housing for the homeless The NSW Government recently announced that rough sleepers across NSW are about to benefit from the largest housing response dedicated to rough sleepers in NSW history with a program to secure homes rapidly from the private rental market underway. The $36 million Together Home project would deliver stable housing and wrap-around support for hundreds of people experiencing homelessness. Part of this initiative is about finding people a place to call home, but the critical next step is supporting them with the services they need to improve their health and wellbeing, and to rebuild their lives. NCCH will receive $2.1M over the next two years to support rough sleepers in our region by finding 30 new leasehold housing outcomes and providing wrap around support to them. Together Home w ill b e deliv er ed in the No r ther n Riv er s r eg ion in collaboration with NCCH and specialist homelessness services and healthcare workers. NCCH hopes to work with local landlords in securing suitable properties to achieve this outcome.

Vale Fiona McConnell We are saddened to advise that Fiona McConnell, our for m er Property & Development General Manager passed away in May. Our thoughts are with her husband and three children. Fiona will be missed.

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Providing homes, Improving lives, Strengthening communities


Updates & Info

Tenant Newsletter Issue 49 | Winter 2020

From our Property & Development Team Maintenance Hotline!

During the COVID-19 lockdown, the Maintenance Team were kept very busy managing urgent calls and navigating through the restrictions to make sure all the maintenance jobs were attended to in a timely manner. We would like to thank all tenants who called in maintenance during this time for their patience and understanding towards the Maintenance Team. Please remember that due to the COVID-19 restrictions we are only dealing with emergency and essential maintenance issues at present and exterior works that can still be completed in line with the restrictions. All other maintenance issues will be placed on hold until the restrictions allow. What we have learnt through this time: 

Please don’t be afraid to leave a message on the voicemail

Leave your name, address and telephone number so we know who you are and can call you back

The maintenance number is (02) 6627 5300 then press 1

If we don’t call you back straight away, that means we are busy with other calls, however, we will call you back as soon as possible

Please note that when we call you back, it may appear on your phone’s caller ID as a Silent/Private number. A reminder about Winter Safety in the Home With winter comes an increase in residential house fires, so remember to be careful when using heaters, fireplaces, and electric blankets.

A reminder NOT to flush wipes down the toilet Baby wipes and sanitising wipes should be thrown away in the trash, not in the toilet. They do not break apart like toilet paper and will cause unwanted back ups and could even cause permanent and expensive damage. Please note that if wipes are found to be the cause of the problem, it will be a Tenant Responsible charge and you will be required to pay for the repair. Save the pipes – don’t flush your wipes!

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If you’re looking to buy a heating device always check for safety certification before purchase. Unauthorized indoor portable gas heaters such as cabinet heaters are a major fire hazard and have been banned for years. Please make sure you don’t still have one. More info https://www.nsw.gov.au/news/how-to-stay-safe-yourhome-winter . Here are some reminders regarding fire safety precautions: Electric blankets – if they were stored during the warmer months, examine them thoroughly before use. Always follow manufacturer’s guidelines for safe use and storage. Smoke alarms – all of your smoke alarms should be tested at least every month to ensure that the battery & the alarm sounder are working. If you have battery-operated smoke alarms, don’t forget to change batteries regularly. Clothes dryers – remember to regularly clean & remove built up lint from the lint filter.

Providing homes, Improving lives, Strengthening communities


Updates & Info continued

Tenant Newsletter Issue 49 | Winter 2020

IMPORTANT INFORMATION regarding how we’re conducting face-to-face business in our offices Whilst NCCH is preparing to return to work in our offices, our reception areas are still closed to walk-in clients and we are continuing to conduct all face-to-face enquiries, at all offices, by appointment only. Please note that:  NCCH is not closed, rather, we are taking precautions to limit the amount of face-to-face interaction with people.  If you are unwell at the time of your appointment, your enquiry will need to be dealt with over the phone.  When you come in for your meeting, physical distancing measures will be in place and the meeting will be kept as

short as possible. To make an appointment, please call in business hours (between 9am-4pm): 

Lismore office—(02) 6627 5300

Tweed office—(07) 5523 5800

Grafton office—(02) 6642 9100

If you are a tenant and have an emergency maintenance situation, please refer to our website’s home page www.ncchc.org.au, or call your local office and press 1. We thank you for your patience whilst these COVID-19 restrictions apply & apologise for any inconvenience caused.

John McKenna, CEO

From our Tenant Council On page 6 of this newsletter, Peter Harris and I provide our feedback on Feros Care’s Virtual Social Centre, access to which was made available to some of NCCH’s older tenants during the COVID-19 pandemic with government funding obtained by Feros Care who partnered with NCCH. Rebates available for the asking A number of rebates are available for various items to help you save money on costs such as car registration—see page 8 of this newsletter for more information. I’ve just filled out the form for NSW Gas Rebate the annual application period runs from 1 July 2020 to 30 June 2021. This is only one of many rebates that are available through the Energy Saver website: https://energysaver.nsw.gov.au/households/rebates-anddiscounts . Dolores Close, Chair Page 4

Providing homes, Improving lives, Strengthening communities


Updates & Info continued

Tenant Newsletter Issue 49 | Winter 2020 From our Operations Team New-look NCCH Tenant Statements NCCH has reviewed its tenant statement in recent months and has developed a new-look statement. Expect to be seeing these new statements over the coming months, along with our “How to Read your Tenant Statement” guide. If you have any questions about this new-look statement, please contact your Tenancy Manager for more information.

Changes to your income or circumstances during COVID-19 If changes in your household income or family circumstances have occurred, for example if you have recently lost paid work due to COVID-19, it is important you contact us immediately to discuss this. We will work with you to assess the rent and adjust it if required. (This will ensure you are not paying too much and more than is deemed affordable for you). Keep making your rent payments We’d like to thank our tenants who have continued to make their regular rent payments during the COVID-19. It is very important that you keep your tenancy because having a home is the first step to safeguarding the wellbeing of you and your family during the pandemic. Have you thought about setting up online automatic payments? Now is a good time to set up a regular rental payment through Centrepay if you receive a Centrelink payment. It means one less thing to worry about. Ian Leven, Operations General Manager Page55 Page

Providing homes, Improving lives, Strengthening communities


Updates & Info continued

Tenant Newsletter Issue 49 | Winter 2020 Feros Care & NCCH team up to keep our older tenants connected during COVID-19

During the COVID-19 pandemic, a Government-funded opportunity became available through a partnership between NCCH and Feros Care* to make the Feros Care Virtual Social Centre available to NCCH’s tenant community. For a limited time, Feros Care was able to offer NCCH tenants over 65 and Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander Tenants over 50, the opportunity for free access to Feros’ Virtual Social Centre for 3-6 months. The Virtual Social Centre is Feros Care’s safe online community of individuals just like you, who find themselves in selfisolation. Through the Virtual Social Centre, tenants had the opportunity to learn something new, stay active through exercise, attend book clubs, develop a new hobby or meet new friends online. All from the comfort of their home. NCCH tenants who fit the age criteria were sent a letter and brochures with details of what the funding could be used for to stay connected. Feros Care provided assistance to get set-up and offered support to ensure that tenants could use the Virtual Social Centre with confidence all done virtually through a phone call. Two of our Tenant Council Members – Dolores & Peter – signed up and here’s what they had to say: “Staying connected with friends and family, making new friendships and connections from afar and sharing common interests. NCCH & Feros Care supported residents to stay connected during this time of social isolation through a Government-funded opportunity. Feros Care offered our tenants access to the Virtual Social Centre and a Samsung tablet. At the time of writing this, the deadline was 30 June to access this free tablet. The Virtual Social Centre is a wonderful resource which, for some, means getting out of your comfort zone & learning how to navigate the use of a tablet. As many of us already take advantage of the many features of a mobile phone, it wasn’t much harder. Plus, there was good phone tech support from Feros to get you through the learning process. Page 6

So what was available? Exercise classes – Tai Chi, seated yoga, movement to music; Creative workshops – paint classes, choir, memoir writing; Education sessions – language classes (Italian & French), tech classes, bible study; Book clubs, trivia, chat blubs, and much more. Personally, I am delighted with what I can access and use, and what I can do to expand my in-home horizons. I am very thankful for NCCH partnering with Feros. Us oldies can learn new tricks!” Dolores Close “Due to the co-operation between Feros Care and NCCH, senior tenants could take advantage of the facilities of a virtual social centre while sitting in their own home. All I needed was a laptop or tablet, and to register with Feros. The registration process was fairly simple, I just needed to provide some details such as my Aged Care number, next-of-kin, and such -like. The facilities included chatting with people like ourselves, social workers etc., or taking part in programmes like exercising, arts & crafts, meditating or even learning new languages! I even tried my hand at learning Italian! The cost was free for the first 6 months and, with nothing to lose, I gave it a whirl!” Peter Harris NCCH would like to thank the staff at Feros Care for the opportunity of working with them on this partnership and we look forward to working again with them in the future. * Feros Care provides support for older Australians and those living with disability. They provide assistance with residential aged care, home care, home maintenance, veteran’s services, community care & getting people back on their feet after a hospital stay. For more info, please visit their website: https://www.feroscare.com.au/

Providing homes, Improving lives, Strengthening communities


Community Noticeboard

Help is at hand if you’re feeling overwhelmed by current events. Reach out to any of the organisations listed below

https:// www.beyondblue.org.au/

https:// www.blackdoginstitute.org.au/ news/10-tips-for-managing-anxietyduring-covid-19/

Website: https:// www.lifeline.org.au/ 

Phone (24 hours/7 days): 13 11 14 

Text (6pm – midnight AEDT, 7 nights): 0477 13 11 14

Chat online (7pm - midnight, 7 nights): https://www.lifeline.org.au/crisis-chat

Tenant Newsletter Issue 49 | Winter 2020

Northern Rivers Transport information Want to know what transport options are available in the Northern Rivers? Social Futures Transport Development Project has recently updated a series of local transport guides for Richmond Valley, Clarence Valley, Byron, Kyogle, Lismore and Ballina (the Tweed Shire guide will be updated shortly). These guides outline public bus routes, community transport and private transport options for each region. You can access a copy of the guides and information about transport in the Northern Rivers through the going places website. Stay tuned for updated school bus route information on goingplaces.org.au, which is a transport option for many in our community – not just students. The Transport Development Project aims to reduce transport disadvantage and improve access to affordable transport options. The project includes supporting Transport Working Groups throughout the Northern Rivers. If you would like to be involved or find out more please visit the Social Futures website or contact transport@socialfutures.org.au.

Getting in touch with your Tenant Council NCCH Tenant Councillors are always happy to discuss an issue with you so please give them a call on one of the numbers listed below. Matters can be raised on your behalf at future Tenant Forums should you not be able to attend. All calls are treated confidentially.

Contacting your local NCCH office


(02) 6643 1209


(02) 6624 2619


0411 117 276


(02) 6674 0540


(02) 6627 5300


(07) 5523 5800

Contacting NCCH Tenancy staff


(02) 6642 9100

Tenancy-related issues/en quir ies can be em ailed to: tenancygrafton@ncchc.org.au for Clarence tenants tenancylismore@ncchc.org.au for Richmond tenants tenancytweed@ncchc.org.au for Tweed tenants

https://www.facebook.com/ northcoastcommunityhousing/

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All other general enquiries should be directed to NCCH’s generic email address info@ncchc.org.au.

Providing homes, Improving lives, Strengthening communities


Community Noticeboard continued

Tenant Newsletter Issue 49 | Winter 2020

Cost of Living Rebates Helping you find NSW Government rebates & savings that are relevant to you Below is a link to the Cost of Living website where you will find a list of over 70 NSW Government rebates and savings, including bushfire assistance programs, electricity rebates, gas rebates, Free Power of Attorney and Will preparation appointments through Trustee & Guardian (located in Zadoc Street, Lismore), health rebates and much more! People who receive assistance from the Department of Human Services (such as concession cards) may be entitled to receive rebates such as the NSW Low-income Household energy rebate; NSW Gas rebate; Medical energy rebate; Active Kids Vouchers; Creative Kids Vouchers; Regional travel; Photo ID & Drivers Licence; Car registration; MPS Permit (Mobility Parking permit); Power of Attorney & Will services for residents 60+ and who receive the full AGE Pension; NSW Specs program; IPTAAS (isolated Patients Travel and Accommodation Scheme). Please note, not all rebates & savings are directly applicable for clients who hold Department of Human Services’ benefit cards. Go to https://www.service.nsw.gov.au/campaign/cost-living#get-started then click the link “Find savings now” and you may find rebates that you may be eligible for. Or you can go directly to the questionnaire: https://questionnaire.costofliving.service.nsw.gov.au/questionnaire

How to cut spending on your energy bills this winter Most of us watch our bills escalate in winter but we see it as a necessary evil – we need to keep warm. Heaters, electric blankets and long, hot showers all guzzle energy. But there’s no need to accept bigger bills as inevitable. There are many simple, common sense ways to spend less on your energy bills this winter. Here are some suggestions for cutting costs and reducing your greenhouse gas emissions from the Energy Australia website. 

Understand what you’re paying for—revisit your energy plan and aim to reduce your usage. Check your energy bill from last year to see if your bill was for a similar amount for the same time of year, to see if it’s a usage problem.

Stay warm without turning up the heat—find other ways of keeping warm instead of turning on heaters

Target the main culprits—take a look around your house and think about where most of the energy is used

What else can you do? Some appliances that use too much energy could be replaced; switch things off when you don’t need them. Before you buy any new appliances, always check their energy efficiency rating.

What if I’m struggling to pay my bill? Each of the energy providers have hardship programs that you can contact to help you. Visit the Energy Australia website: https://www.energyaustralia.com.au/blog/better-energy/ how-cut-spending-your-energy-bills-winter The Energy & Water Ombudsman NSW (EWON) also has information available on their website, including rebates, counselling and other resources to help you with paying energy and water bills. Visit their website: https://www.ewon.com.au/page/customer-resources. See over the page for information on assistance with bills during the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Providing homes, Improving lives, Strengthening communities

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Community Noticeboard continued

Tenant Newsletter Issue 49 | Winter 2020

Support for energy customers impacted by COVID-19 Suffering from COVID-19 related energy bill shock? Your retailer can offer you extra support. All energy retailers already have affordability programs (sometimes known as hardship programs). Support measures differ between retailers, but include payment extensions, payment plans and help accessing grants and concessions. These programs have now been enhanced to help support customers during these very tough times.

The new measures follow the release of the Australian Energy Regulator's (AER) Statement of Expectations in March 2020. The Statement defines 10 expectations that energy retailers must meet during this time including: 

offering affordability assistance to all customers in financial stress

deferring disconnection of any residential or small business customers in financial stress until at least 31 July 2020

deferring referrals to debt collection agencies, or credit default listing until at least 31 July 2020

waiving disconnection, reconnection and/or contract break fees and daily supply charges for small businesses that have ceased operation, during any period of disconnection until at least 31 July 2020.

EWON (the Energy & Water Ombudsman NSW) has already received complaints from customers impacted by COVID-19 and as a result, worked with energy retailers to establish financial assistance for those customers. These include billing disputes relating to estimated bills as distributors restrict site visits, complaints relating to retailers not meeting the AER’s expectations of support and an increase in complaints involving customers with affordability issues resulting from COVID-19. If you’re having payment difficulties or are at risk of disconnection, contact your retailer first. They can help. If you’re not happy with their response, contact the Energy & Water Ombudsman NSW. We offer a free, fair and independent dispute resolution service and can also provide advice on how to save energy and get the best energy deal. Visit EWON’s COVID-19 energy support information page (https:// www.ewon.com.au/page/media-center/news/updates/covid-19customer-support ).



Life is too short Too short to deny a compliment Stay silent in the face of injustice Leave your feelings unexpressed https://www.facebook.com/ northcoastcommunityhousing/

For updates regarding NCCH or COVID-19.

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Look after yourself Look after your relationships You can be too cautious in life But you can’t be too caring

Providing homes, Improving lives, Strengthening communities

By Dolores Close


Emergency Contractors List Winter 2020

Tenant Newsletter Issue 49 | Winter 2020


 Advise the contractor you are a tenant with NCCH  The contractor may not answer but will have an answering machine – Please leave a message and the contractor will call back shortly (please do not contact another contractor)

 If you are in a leasehold property and require emergency repairs, please refer to your lease for emergency after hours contractors. Alstonville/Ballina/Casino/Evans Head/Lennox Head/Lismore Plumber:

A E Campbell .......................................... 0428 272 445


Arthur Walker Construction .................... 0410 577 325

Handyman/Glazier: Arthur Walker Construction .................... 0410 577 325 Bangalow/Byron Bay/Brunswick/Mullumbimby Plumber:

Cape Byron Plumbing ............................. 0422 246 409


Arthur Walker Construction .................... 0410 577 325

Handyman/Glazier: Arthur Walker Construction .................... 0410 577 325 Kingscliff/Murwillumbah/Tweed Head Coast/Tweed Heads Plumber:

John Kirk ................................................. 0412 755 535


Glenn Taylor Electricals.......................... 0412 508 406

Handyman/Glazier: Kevin Moroney......................................... 0418 871 972 Grafton/Wooli Plumber:

John Wright Plumbers............................. 0417 423 790


Ken McGrath................ (02) 6642 4170/0404 898 980

Handyman/Glazier: Graeme Mills............................................ 0419 407 785 Maclean/Yamba Plumber:

Graeme Mills............................................ 0419 407 785


Graham Watts ......................................... 0418 660 889

Handyman/Glazier: Graeme Mills............................................ 0419 407 785

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Providing homes, Improving lives, Strengthening communities

Profile for NorthCoastCommunityHousing

NCCH News - Winter 2020 edition  

The quarterly newsletter of North Coast Community Housing, a community housing provider based in the northern rivers region of New South Wal...

NCCH News - Winter 2020 edition  

The quarterly newsletter of North Coast Community Housing, a community housing provider based in the northern rivers region of New South Wal...