Welcome to Spring! We hope you enjoy our new easier-to-read format. In the coming weeks we’re going start work on redeveloping our website and we invite your ideas and feedback on the current one: what works, what doesn’t, and what would you like to see. You can email us at info@hhs.org.au


Seasonal hay fever occurs mainly in Spring and Summer and affects people allergic to pollens. Hay fever is very common and affects up to 30 per cent of children. 
Signs and symptoms of hay fever:
  • frequent bouts of sneezing
  • a runny nose
  • blocked nose 
  • itchy ears, nose, throat and mouth
  • red, itchy, swollen or watery eyes
  • headaches
If hay fever is left untreated it can lead to poor sleep, and tiredness. In some cases, hay fever can also make asthma more difficult to control and increase the chance of sinus infections.
Hay fever can’t be cured, but there are a number of ways you can improve the symptoms.
The best way to reduce the frequency of hay fever is to identify what causes your allergic reaction and then try to avoid contact with it.
If you’re allergic to pollen, checking the pollen count for your region can help you be aware when your hay fever might be worse.
Your doctor may suggest using medication to help relieve your symptoms, such as: non-sedating antihistamines or low-dose steroid nasal sprays.
Your doctor or pharmacist can give advice on which medication may be best for you and how they might interact with your other health conditions and medications.
If hay fever is left untreated it can lead to poor sleep, and tiredness. In some cases, hay fever can also make asthma more difficult to control and increase the chance of sinus infections.
Hay fever can’t be cured, but there are a number of ways you can improve the symptoms.
The best way to reduce the frequency of hay fever is to identify what causes your allergic reaction and then try to avoid contact with it.
If you’re allergic to pollen, checking the pollen count for your region can help you be aware when your hay fever might be worse.
Your doctor may suggest using medication to help relieve your symptoms, such as:non-sedating antihistamines or low-dose steroid nasal sprays.
Your doctor or pharmacist can give advice on which medication may be best for you and how they might interact with your other health conditions and medications.


There’s no better time for spring cleaning your rental property than, well, spring.  The sun stays out a little bit longer and you start to get the urge to wipe away winter clutter and make a fresh start.
Not sure how to start your seasonal clean-up?  Follow this simple checklist to tackle the tasks with the biggest impact and keep your rental property in tip top condition.

Build a spring-cleaning kit

Instead of rifling through your linen closet for a different cleaner every time you move to a new room, put together a bucket full of everything you’ll need to clean your entire home. Include items like detergent, all-purpose cleaners and vinegar, sponges and rags, and rubber gloves. This will simplify and speed up your spring cleaning.

Scrub your tub

Soap scum and body oils can combine forces to ruin the shiny surface of your shower, sink and bathtub and make hard to reach places a haven for mould and mildew. Spray your shower, sink and bath area with an all-purpose bathroom cleaner, and allow the product to soak while you clean elsewhere. Remember to turn on your exhaust fan or open a window to let any fumes escape. Use a gentle scrubbing pad to remove bathtub rings or deposits on shower floors. Scrub your tile grout lines, taps, nooks and crannies with an old toothbrush. Rinse off cleaner quickly and cleanly with a detachable shower head or jug. 

Wash walls, cabinets, baseboards and window sills

Grab a dry cloth and give your surfaces a wipe down to remove the dust. Follow up with a sponge and warm soapy water. Scrub walls from top to bottom, and make sure to leave a door or window cracked open to speed-up the drying process.

Clean your screens and windows

Gleaming windows can make a big impact to the look of your home. If you can access your windows safely,  now’s a great time to give them a clean. Remove the screen from the window, and give it a quick squirt with a hose. Scour the screens with soapy water to remove all grime and debris and let dry in the sun. Give the window a quick dust down with a cobweb brush to remove the dirt, grime and spider webs. Scrub the window from top to bottom with a clean cloth and soapy water or a water and vinegar mixture. Now squeegee the window dry. You can avoid streaks by cleaning the squeegee blade with a rag between strokes.

Remove grease from your cooktop and range hood

To make stainless steal surfaces sparkle, mix a solution of a little bit of detergent with hot water.  Use a cloth to rub away marks in small sections, going with the grain. Rinse with hot water and dry with a clean cloth immediately.

Vacuum thoroughly

Pull your furniture away from walls and vacuum behind and under it. Don’t forget to vacuum the skirting boards and air vents while you’re back there.

Clean the fridge

Freshen up your fridge by removing any food that’s past its best. Once it’s empty, use a combination of salt and soda water. The bubbling action of the soda water combines with the abrasive texture of the salt to make a great cleaner”. Wipe down the entire unit with this solution for a double win, as it also helps to prevent future mold and mildew build-up.


We recently welcomed disability housing provider, Active Community Housing, to The Haven Group thanks to a merger with the not-for-profit organisation on July 1. 
Active is Victoria’s only housing agency dedicated to providing high-quality housing for people with very high and complex disability support needs and their families.
The merger will help us provide more homes and a bigger range of services to people living with a disability across Victoria, including home modifications, assertive technology consultations, and specialised property and tenancy management.
In the lead up to the merger, we also launched the Assistive Housing Hub.  https://assistivehousinghub.com.au
The Hub showcases the latest in communication systems and home automation, architectural hardware and furniture fittings, and tele-health monitoring supplied by Techsmax, Hafele and Tunstall.

Important information for NDIS participants

Are you or a member of your family registered as a participant with the NDIS or are you seeking registration?  If you are, we might be able to help with such as assistive technologies, equipment and home or vehicle modifications, or advice about Specialist Disability Accommodation.

For more information you can email us at ndisassist@hhs.org.au


We have  become the first Housing Association in the world to receive the International Organisation for Standardisation (ISO) certification for its asset management system.

ISO: 55001:2014 recognises our world-class governance and best practice over the management of our housing portfolio.

CEO Ken Marchingo AM said achieving ISO certification highlighted the Non-Government Organisation’s innovative and systematic approach to align its asset management objectives with its organisational goals. The benefits will be improved effectiveness and efficiency, financial performance, risk management, better services and outputs, and demonstrated social responsibility and compliance.

More Housing Support for Homeless in Mildura

More people experiencing homelessness in Mildura will have a roof over their heads thanks to the Accommodation for Homeless program from the Andrews Labor Government.

Construction has begun on two three-bedroom homes in Mildura, to be ready for tenants early in 2020. All properties will house vulnerable families at risk of homelessness and will be complemented by case management support for two years, provided by Haven Home Safe.

This support will help families to improve their financial stability, learn living skills, set up a home and look after their health, as well as helping them to renew relationships and care for children.

Homelessness Week Puts Poverty and Housing on the Agenda

Homelessness Week was held on August 4-10, and was a fantastic opportunity to shine a spotlight on poverty and housing in Australia and bring it back onto  the agenda of local, state and federal governments.

We use Homelessness Week to raise community awareness about what people can do at a local level to reduce homelessness in their area.  

This year, we held a range of events across the week.  At our Preston office, we hosted warm winter lunch and brought along our our free mobile laundry service by Orange Sky.

In Mildura, we cooked up a free sausage sizzle while our staff were on hand to talk about homelessness support services and other services that assist the community.

We wrapped up the week in Bendigo, where we recruited some of the region’s best baristas and took HeyVan to the Bendigo Writer’s Festival to keep everyone warm with fresh cups of coffee, tea and hot chocolate.

We also sold plenty of Keep Cups and copies of our book.

We’re calling on the government to raise Newstart

Newstart is a critical part of Australia’s income support system, however we believe the program isn’t working because Newstart payments are grossly inadequate. 

Newstart payment rates have not been increased in real terms in 25 years while living costs have gone through the roof. $40 per day is too low to give people the support they need to get through tough times and into paid work.

We’ve joined other non-for-profit organisations in campaigning the federal government to #raisetherate. 

Raising the single rate of Newstart and other allowances by at least $75 per week allows people to focus on building the skills to get them through tough times. People can focus on their futures rather than just trying to survive day-to-day.

TENANT survey update

Thanks to our tenants who took the time to complete our tenant survey, here’s what you said.

You’d recommend us to your mates.
87 percent of tenants would recommend Haven; Home, Safe to a friend or co-worker. 

You’re happy with your home
The majority of tenants are satisfied with the affordability of their home and their access to services and outdoor areas.  While most of you feel safe in your neighbourhood, there’s still more we can do to make you feel secure. 

Can we fix it? Yes, we can!
74 percent of tenants are satisfied with the maintenance that we have done on their home. 

Winners of the $50 voucher

Huge thanks to the hundreds of tenants who provided additional feedback.  The winners of the $50 vouchers were drawn at random and will receive their vouchers by mail.


Emergency Evacuation Drill Program

During August to October, tenants in multi development sites will receive a letter about when we undertake Emergency Evacuation Drills. 
The purpose of an Emergency Evacuation Drill is to train people about what to do in the event of an emergency.  If you are home whilst the drill is occurring we encourage you to participate.  
For further details, contact your Property & Tenancy Manager. 

Rent Reviews

Market rent reviews are calculated separately to your household rent review. When your market rent has been reviewed we will write to you providing a 60-day notice detailing any changes in the market rent amount. This will not affect your discounted rent and the rent your household pays until you next rent review.  
Rent reviews occur on the anniversary of the tenancy start date. We do this to ensure that we are charging the correct discounted rent and to validate eligibility for our affordable social housing and NRAS programs.   
Rent Calculation Policy

Have We Got Your Contact Details?

It is important that we have your most current details including email and telephone numbers so we can contact you and let you know about important changes or information regarding your tenancy. If you think we may not have your current details, please contact your Tenancy and Property Manager and let them know. 

We Value Your Privacy!  

We collect and manage your information in line with federal and state privacy compliance laws. We securely store and maintain your personal information on computers with active firewalls, password-protected databases, and in hard-copy files that are securely locked in cabinets within offices. We do not release information about you to a third party unless we have your written consent or we have a legal obligation to do so.  
For further information visit our website or ask for more information from your Property & Tenancy Manager.
Privacy Policy

Join our Doncaster and Boronia Tenant Reference Group

We have an exciting opportunity for you to represent your experience as a tenant, plan social events for the site tenant community and have input on services, policies and procedures for HHS. 
Tenant Reference Group (TRG) is a group of members that meet quarterly to provide a voice, and encourage tenants to actively contribute to further developments and improvements for the community and the site.   
For further information, contact Vicki, Community Engagement Coordinator on 9479 0729. 

calling all gardeners!

Victoria in Bloom Competition Opens

If you’re one of our green-thumbed tenants who make us proud every year, or a first time entrant, it’s time to get your garden blooming.  Run by the State Government, the competition recognises and the great work of gardening enthusiasts living in public or community housing.
Tenants can enter all types of gardens – from balconies, to back yards and community gardens. No garden is too big or small.

There is no age limit. Best Young Gardener category is for under 25s who enjoy gardening or are thinking of a career in this field.

Nominations for the 2019-2020 Victoria in Bloom Garden competition are open on Monday 2 September to 29 November 2019.
The award categories for 2019-20:
  • Best Balcony or Container Garden: Gardens on a balcony space or gardens made up of potted plants
  • Best Small Enclosed Garden: Gardens that are enclosed, such as courtyards
  • Best Young Gardener (U25): Young gardeners who are active at home, community or school garden
  • Best Household Garden: Front or back gardens that are larger than a courtyard
  • Best Sustainable Garden: Environmentally sustainable, may include features like compost, water tanks, worm farms, mulch and drought-tolerant plants
  • Best Community or Common Area Garden: In common areas and shared by a group of people, accessed and used by all the residents on a property. 
  • Best Edible Garden: Gardens where most of the plants are fruit, vegetables and herbs
  • Best Creative Garden: Designed using creativity, uniqueness and self-expression
  • Best First Year Entered Garden: First time in the competition that is judged as best garden.
How do I enter?
To enter, once nominations are open, you need to register your garden by one of the following ways:
Complete the registration form
Phone: 9096 9938
How is the competition judged?
First by division (North, South, East and West) and then state wide. Winners in each division go on to be finalists in their category for the state-wide competition.

Hello Neighbour 2020

The 2020 Haven; Home, Safe Good Neighbour Awards are just around the corner. To launch the awards we’re hosting a fun-filled day out for families, celebrating our tenants who go above and beyond to support others and contribute to making our properties a happier and safer place. This family-friendly, free event offers speakers from Relationships Australia, the R U OK? Campaign and Victoria Police and food, live music and a range of kid’s activities.

When: Saturday 16 November 2019, 12pm – 3pm  
Location: MC2, 699 Doncaster Road, Doncaster 
Cost: Free

Social Housing Volunteer Awards

Do you know a tenant or a group of tenants who contribute positively to their local community?
Why not nominate them for the DHHS Social Housing Volunteer Awards before September 30.  
There award categories are: 
Frances Pennington Award: an individual public or community housing tenant, or a group of tenants, who have made an outstanding voluntary contribution to their community.
Molly Hadfield Award: an individual public or community housing tenant, or a group of tenants, who have made a positive effect on the lives of older tenants in their community.
For further information and details head to www.housing.vic.gov.au
Read more

Fresh Bread Mondays

Our Preston office will have a fresh supply of bread rolls and loaves for our clients every Monday thanks to Charbel from Bright Sparqe.
The bread is available to collection every Monday from 10am.

Pay ahead for a rainy day 

Being a little ahead on your rent can be a life saver when unexpected bills come in, or at expensive times of the year.  Make additional payments towards your rent each week from now until the end of November, and you could bank enough advance rent to skip one week’s payment at the end of the year. Imagine how this could help take the pressure off at Christmas, back to school time or with extra bills in the new year. 


From November 21 – December 31, many cafes and restaurants are taking part in DineSmart. Diners can donate an extra extra $1 on top of their bill to be distributed to charities to raise awareness and combat homelessness.   For further information and details on restaurants participating, visit https://streetsmartaustralia.org/dinesmart/ 
Free financial guidance for women over 50
Women’s Information Referral Exchange (WIRE) has created a free financial wellbeing kit, My Money Conversation Kit. The kit includes a guide with questions to uncover individual attitudes to money, tips on having difficult conversations, and advice on financial abuse as well as links to useful financial and government services. It includes an organiser to bring all your financial information together in one place. To learn more and download the kit visit: wire.org.au/my-money-conversation-kit/

important dates

AFL Grand Final Eve

Public Holiday Victoria
Friday 27 September
HHS Offices Closed

Daylight Savings

Sunday 6 October 2019
Turn your clocks forward one
hour at 2am

Mental Health Week

5 – 11 October
The theme in 2019 is
“What do you know?”

World Homeless Day

Thursday 10 October 2019
Find out more

Anti-Poverty Week

13 -19 October 2019
Find out more

Bendigo Cup

Public Holiday Bendigo
Wed 30 October
Bendigo Office Closed

Melbourne Cup

Public Holiday
Preston, Geelong and Mildura
HHS Offices Closed

Remembrance Day

11 November 2019
Check what’s happening
in your area

White Ribbon Day

22 November 2019
Prevent men’s violence
against womens

International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women

25 November, 2019


What’s the difference between an urgent and non-urgent repair?
In the recent Tenant Satisfaction Survey, some of you told us you were still unsure about the difference between and urgent and a non-urgent repair. 
URGENT REPAIRS are defined in the Residential Tenancies Act 1997 and include: 
  •  A burst water service 
  •  A blocked or broken toilet system 
  •  A serious roof leak 
  •  A gas leak 
  •  A dangerous electrical fault 
  •  Flooding or serious flood damage 
  •  A breakdown of an essential service or appliance that we provided for hot water, water, cooking, heating or washing 
  •  A breakdown of the gas, electricity or water supply 
  •  A breakdown of an appliance, fitting or fixture that we provided which uses or supplies water that causes a substantial amount of water being wasted 
  •  Any fault or damage that makes your home unsafe or not secure 
  •  A serious fault in a lift or staircase. 
While our call centre operates outside of business hours, only urgent and essential maintenance will be attended to overnight or on the weekend. Non-urgent repairs and maintenance will be scheduled ahead of time Monday to Friday. 
It’s important that when reporting urgent maintenance after hours, that it is just that! If you request a tradesperson to come to your home after-hours and the repair it isn’t found to be urgent, the cost of the call out may be charged back to you.  
All repairs can be reported during business hours 9am – 5pm, Monday – Friday, excluding public holidays.
  • AHA Properties – 1300 100 242 
  • THM Properties – 13 11 72 (DHHS Maintenance Call Centre) 

Protect your belongs with tenant insurance

Have you thought about how to protect your belongings after a fire, flood or burglary? 
HHS building insurance does not cover tenant belongings. It is the tenant’s responsibility to protect their belongings. HHS encourages tenants to contact a preferred insurance company where you can discuss your needs and find a policy that is right for you. 

Spring Maintenance: Outdoor Drains

After a wet Winter and Spring rains on the way, now’s a great time to tackle some tasks outside, like cleaning your outdoor grates and drains.
Outdoor drains are susceptible to clogging with leaves, stones or mud. If your drains are blocked it can result in unnecessary flooding and water damage at your property. 
  1. Check for obvious things blocking the drain grate like leaves, dirt, stones, toys and rubbish.
  2. Lift the grate; if there’s debris in the drain, carefully remove it without damaging the pipe.
  3. Use a garden hose to flush water through the drain to clear any remaining blockage.
If you think your drain is still blocked or may be damaged, submit a maintenance request to Maintenance Service Team on 1300 100 242. 

Are You Moving Out?

Are you leaving us? If you’re moving on and vacating your rental property, there are a few things you are required to do. 
It is the responsibility of the tenant to ensure that the rent is paid up to vacate date and any outstanding repairs or maintenance are attended too, including cleaning the property and removing all of your furniture and possessions. 
If you are unsure of what is expected you can contact your Property & Tenancy Manager or watch our video. How to Vacate Your Haven; Home, Safe Property video

Education information

Click any event image to head to the website

 Victorian Government Paid Traineeship Program

Youth Employment Scheme (YES) gives people aged 15-24 the opportunity to work in the Victorian Public Service as an entry-level trainee for 12 months – visit the YES page on Youth Central.

Save For Your Education with Saver Plus

Save for your, or their children’s education, with up to $500 matched savings and financial literacy training. Use funds for: uniforms, books, laptops, equipment, TAFE or apprenticeship costs.  Read More Here

Melbourne Polytechnic Career Expo

24 October 2019, 10:30am – 2pm
Thinking about starting a new career path? Head to this career expo.
Cost: Free   Location: Darebin Arts & Entertainment Centre, Preston

September events

Happy Birthday Play School: Celebrating 50 Years

28 June – 7 October 2019 
Explore 50 years of Play School history, your favourite presenters and toys to the changing nature and experience of Australian childhood.
Cost: $5-8   Location: National Wool Museum, Geelong


29 August -22 September, 11am – 6pm
Neon art exhibition, Insta-fabulous glowing neon room, free rainbow snacks every weekday, happy dog therapy and digital gaming.
Cost: Free   Location: QV Melbourne, cnr Lonsdale and Swanston Sts

Mildura Country Music Festival

27 September – 6 October 2019
10 days of country music along the Murray River. Australia’s biggest showcase of independent music and entertainers. 
Cost: Free and ticketed events   Location: Various venues, Mildura

2019 Footy Festival

25 – 28 September 2019, 
Celebrate the AFL finals with food, music and kids activities. 2019 Grand Final player parade from the Old Treasury Building to the MCG.
Cost: Free  Location: Swanston Street, Melbourne  Read More


22 September 2019, 10am – 4pm
Regional Victoria’s premier pop culture event. Cosplay contest, fan groups, artists’ alley, board game zone, workshops and market.
Cost: $10    Location: Prince of Wales Showgrounds, North Bendigo

Little Food Festival

25 – 26 September 2019, 10am – 3pm
Family event with the main square filled with composting stations, native foods, exhibitions, cooking demonstrations, free tastings and more.  Cost: Free  Location: Federation Square, Melbourne

October events

Melbourne International Arts Festival

2 – 20 October 2019
Provoking and inspiring, unique experiences that bring people together and break new ground in culture and the arts.
Cost: Free and ticketed events   Location: Various venues, Melbourne

Diwali Indian Festival

19 October 2019, 11am – 5pm
Celebrating Indian culture; performances, street food, Bollywood dancing, fireworks and hundreds of breathtaking lanterns. 
Cost: Free   Location: Federation Square, Melbourne

Pets Day Out

13 October 2019, 10am-3pm
Celebrating pets! Features a pet parade, agility tests, animal farm, and pop-up pet stalls throughout the day.
Cost: Free   Location: Ballam Park, Frankston

Melbourne Cup Parade

31 October 2019, 12noon – 2pm
See this year’s horses, jockeys and trainers parade through the CBD before they compete in the ‘race that stops a nation’.
Cost: Free  Location:  Swanston St and Fed Square, Melbourne

Swan Hill Food Truck Festival

25 – 27 October 2019, 11am – 11pm
Exotic and delicious local and state-renowned food trucks, live entertainment, tons of kids activities.
Cost: $1 – $15  Location: Riverside Park, Swan Hill

Vegecarian Festival

5 October 2019, 
Family-friendly, about loving food and loving animals. Care for your health and care for animals by eating a plant-based diet.
Cost: Free  Location: The Great Stupa, Myers Flat, Bendigo

NOVember events

Bendigo Blues & Roots Music Festival

7 – 10 November 2019
A four-day festival of world-class music. Saturday is the free all-day family-friendly concert in Rosalind Park.
Cost: Free and ticketed events. Location: Various venues, Bendigo

Bendigo Swap Meet

16 – 17 November 2019
The Southern Hemisphere’s largest swap meet attracting 30,000 motoring enthusiasts, restorers and rev heads to the city every year.
Cost: $5 – $20  Location: Bendigo Showgrounds, North Bendigo

Geelong Japanese Summer Festival

30 November 2019, 9:30am – 3:30pm
Celebrate all things Japanese at this family-friendly festival. Food, traditional arts, workshops, exhibitions and demonstrations.
Cost: $5 . Location: Diversitat Northern Hub, Arunga Ave, Norlane