Corporate Member: Bethanie Housing

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Name of Organisation: Bethanie Housing

Chief Executive Officer: Chris How

Joined AHi: 2017

Mission of organisation:

“Our mission statement is to demonstrate the love of God through the provision of high quality care, accommodation and community. It’s that last bit, the sense of community, which is really important to Bethanie Housing.”

Summary of services provided:

“Bethanie Housing has been around for about 11 years but the Bethanie Group has been around for a long time – since 1962. The Bethanie Group actually started off as a housing organisation, providing housing to post-war veterans that found themselves in a situation where they didn’t have anywhere to live. Even though we’re an aged care provider now, that’s where we started.”

“We’ve only officially been a housing provider for a little over a decade but we’ve always had our grassroots in providing that accommodation, so it really is core to the services we provide. In a simple, tangible format, we provide accommodation to people who are over the age of 55. We also then utilise the Bethanie Group’s services, such as home care, to support people staying in that accommodation for longer.”

“But we do even more than that. Not only do we house people as they become aged and frail, and home care services so they can stay in that accommodation longer, but we also provide facilities and common amenities that people can access too . Again, it comes back to our mission of providing communities. So we provide things like bowling greens, common rooms, art rooms, those sorts of things – things that people can access whether they’re in our facilities or whether they’re still living independently.”

“If our people do need to transition to something that provides more care, we can smoothly move them into residential care. So that’s  a niche service that Bethanie Housing is able to provide – that  support to the elders of Western Australia, and support them as they age within their accommodation.

Defining features of organisation:               

“We know that people need shelter but our approach is more that they need not only shelter but also they a sense of belonging – a sense of place – and they need a sense of purpose. So when we provide accommodation to people requiring housing, it’s about making sure they get a sense of connection with it. We build communities, as opposed to building buildings.”

“One of the biggest aspects of our vision is: how do we build these communities? There are two aspects to that. One is: how do we build that sense of belonging and connection? And the other thing is: how do we grow? You need to actually build form so you can build a community. We aspire to build communities in the context of not just its physical, built form but also providing that sense of community and connection.”

“It is that focus on the elders of the community that require accommodation but also, in doing so, leveraging off the Bethanie Group and their expertise and their resources , and providing for that complete ageing journey in that accommodation. That what we believe genuinely sets us apart from other housing providers.”

Achievements of organisation this year:

“Our biggest achievement in the last 12 months, and certainly something that we’re extremely proud of having completed, is finalising the second stage of our Peel development: Bethanie Peel. This is a 98-unit development that we commissioned that forms part of a 196-unit campus, which has a nursing home associated with it. We’ve been able to finish that off a few months ago, which is really fantastic.”

“Bethanie Peel provides the residents with access to a range of common amenities and facilities in line with our focus on creating communities. Some of those amenities include a 250-person common auditorium where people can do dance classes and those sorts of things. We also have an onsite cafe, hairdressing salon, beauty parlour, library, art room, dance studio, gym and outdoor bowling green. So, for us, what we’ve tried to achieve in that complex is retirement living within a social housing complex . And we believe that we’ve achieved it.”

“We’re so proud of the Bethanie Peel  development.  Every  time we take people out there to have a look they say, ‘So this is social housing?’ And we get to answer, ‘Yeah, it is’.”

Current programs:

“Well, we’re a registered growth provider with the Department of Housing – that’s the major program that we’re involved in. We’re  also working really hard and remaining focused on other things we’re trying to achieve. One of those things is working through our Tier One status application, which I think  a number  of  providers are also going through at the moment.”

Comment on the current state of housing:

” I think housing is in a state of flux, as what many of the human services are facing at the moment within Australia. Especially in Western Australia –  where the state government  hasn’t got the cash that it had previously to be able to support housing providers – we’re seeing the government retracting funding. Obviously, that puts pressure on small providers that don’t have the balance sheet and cashflow needed for their sustainability.”

“I think that’s going to potentially – unfortunately – create an environment where some of the smaller providers might need to merge with bigger providers. And I say ‘unfortunately’ because I personally believe there’s a space for smaller providers. They certainly understand the communities in which they provide

services a lot better than some of the larger providers. So I think that’s certainly a challenge.”

“The introduction of the aged care aggregator – and what that’s going to look like into the future, and how that’s going to support industry – I think is also a big challenge. I think that’s something where the AHi can certainly deliver advocacy and support for providers.”

Why did you become a Corporate Member of the AHi?

“We know that housing is a dynamic environment.  We know there’s a lot that’s going to change in that environment,  so it’s good to have a peak body that can provide you with the latest information about what’s going on with changes in legislation and changes in practice. I think that’s always important.”

“It’s also good to be able to link up with an organisation that brings government, private sector  and  not-for-profit together.  I always think that a collective voice is better than a single voice. But it’s not just that – it’s about how each of those groups can learn from each other. Everyone’s  always got something to learn from someone else, and I think it’s always good to be in an environment where someone is a catalyst to bring those conversations together.”

Join the Australasian Housing Institute!

As an AHI corporate member, you will benefit from the opportunities for continuing education and development, from the Professional Development programs available to you and from sharing ideas and knowledge with fellow professionals. Your commitment to the AHI also shows your support of the housing profession, adding to its strength, which benefits us all. Read more