DHA 30 years

Celebrating our history, our achievements, our people, and our future

Over three decades we have strived to bring about major improvement in the standard of housing and related services we provide to Australian Defence Force members and their families. While in that time we have experienced significant growth and organisational change, our commitment to our mission has never wavered.

In 2018, in recognition of 30 years, we celebrate how far we have come. We analyse our achievements and acknowledge the role our staff, customers and stakeholders have played in our successful journey.

See our journey over 30 years

DHA 30 years

Highlights over 30 years

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Timeline of events

DHA officially began operations on 1 January 1988, over the next five years we focussed on acquiring new housing stock, selling, upgrading or demolishing houses that didn’t meet community standards. However, emphasis was also placed on the emotional role homes played in the lives of Defence members.


  • Established as a statutory authority, and assumed responsibility for more than 23,000 properties Australia-wide (76 per cent of the Defence housing requirement) with about 17,000 of these requiring replacement or refurbishment to bring them up to an acceptable community standard.
  • Implemented administrative structures including appointment of a Board of Directors, Managing Director, small Head Office in Canberra and a network of regional Housing Management Centres.
  • Developed consultative arrangements with the Australian Defence Force, Defence personnel and their families, and other interest groups such as the National Consultative Group of Service Spouses.
  • Embarked on a considerable capital works, upgrade, and improvement program with Government commitment of not less than $750 million (in 1986 dollars) for capital expenditure over 10 years.
  • Initiated corporate planning, including the development of strategic objectives and performance indicators, as well as strategies to: 
  • pursue large residential development and construction projects in collaboration with the private sector
  • access commercial borrowings
  • establish long-term leasing arrangements with individual and institutional investors.


As we approach the end of our first decade of operations it is clear the impact that DHA has had on Defence members and their families. We begin to look at new ways to improve our product offering and ways to diversify our funding source through the property investment program.


  • Began to formally survey tenants, with the first questionnaire reporting high levels of satisfaction with the overall quality of housing provided and the Authority’s repairs, maintenance and improvements service.


  • Received industry recognition for our activities, with several housing projects being awarded for excellence including a medium-density project at Larrakeyah in Darwin winning the Royal Australian Institute of Architects’ Robin Boyd Award.
  • Continued to improve the quality of Defence housing through construction, acquisition, leasing and disposals, including innovative construction trials to deliver housing suited to tropical climates.


  • Successfully launched the Sale and Leaseback program directed to private investors to fund the Authority’s operations and to repay a substantial amount of debt.


  • To improve service delivery, undertook joint studies with the Department of Defence (Defence) into their process of housing allocation, management of vacant stock and removals.

As we enter our second decade we assume responsibility for allocating and relocating Defence members, DHA is rebranded in line with this new mission as ‘The Home of Service’.


  • After 10 years of operation, supplied 21,849 houses for Members with Dependants (nearly 88 per cent of the Defence housing requirement). Within a further two years all DHA supplied housing, in all locations, was compliant with, or exceeded, acceptable community standards.


  • Assigned responsibility for allocating houses to Defence tenants and introduced new arrangements for managing the cleaning of houses vacated by tenants.


  • Signed a Services Agreement with the Department of Defence, formalising the services to be provided to Defence and establishing risk-sharing arrangements.


  • Assumed responsibility for managing relocation services, providing a total housing service to Defence, and launched a web-based tool to help Defence members and their families identify and reserve their next DHA home.


  • Launched a new brand to signify a new era of providing Defence housing and potentially expanding the services provided to Defence. The Home of Service is adopted as a positioning statement to recognise how the Authority seeks to be recognised in all its activities.

Changes to the Act and a name change signify a new area of operations for DHA as we continue to grow our investment product and improve our housing products.


  • A new range of inner-city apartments, townhouses and well-located detached houses in metropolitan areas is offered to Defence personnel as an alternative to the traditional service residence offering.


  • Began a trial to provide off-base accommodation for single Defence members in Darwin.


  • Significant changes to the Defence Housing Authority Act to broaden its functions to provide housing and related services to other Commonwealth agencies. A name change to Defence Housing Australia and new corporate image take effect.
  • Sold $220.1 million of residential property to Westpac Funds Management Limited on a leaseback basis, diversifying funding sources beyond the successful Sale and Leaseback program, which is focused on retail investors.


  • Established a major project to oversee the implementation of the New Housing Classification Policy; a new system for classifying properties and higher minimum housing standards, which aligned with DHA’s goal to provide a more modern, versatile stock portfolio, with greater appeal to tenants and investors.
  • The Rex D. Dog children’s brand is created by DHA in consultation with Defence interest groups, assisting children of Defence personnel with relocating to a new home and demonstrating DHA’s commitment to even its youngest stakeholders.

As we celebrate 20 years of service to the Australian community we forge a new role in the development community through the Nation Building program and focus on caring for our youngest stakeholders, the children of Defence families.


  • Completed the preparation of housing for the arrival of 3RAR in Townsville and embarked on the expansion of our national off-base singles business, growing the portfolio to nearly 200 apartments.
  • Provided a total portfolio of 17,471 houses for Defence families (Members with Dependants) in accordance with the agreed provisioning schedule.


  • DHA builds 829 homes in addition to its business as usual construction program as part of the Government’s Nation Building – Economic Stimulus Plan. This demonstrates DHA’s capacity as a residential developer and paves the way for more commercially focused development programs.


  • Completed the Defence-funded air conditioning project. Over a three-year period, this addressed the air conditioning needs of 3,500 DHA-managed properties at a cost of $23.3 million.

After almost 30 years of operation we celebrate how far we have come. We begin to analyse our achievements and our operating structure so that we can look forward to tomorrow.


  • DHA Investment Management Limited, a wholly-owned subsidiary of DHA, is formed to enable DHA to establish an unlisted property trust to hold DHA properties on sale and leaseback terms and for units in the fund to be sold to investors.
  • The Services Agreement with Defence is extended to at least 2023 and new agreements with Defence are signed for the expansion of off-base accommodation for single Defence members across Australia and the provision of a Living-in Accommodation Booking and Allocation Service.


  • Contributed approximately $235,500 and goods-in-kind to various Defence community groups and not-for-profit organisations.
  • Maintained service delivery to ADF members and their families and property investors by exceeding all customer service targets (greater than 90 per cent) and meeting most provisioning targets (greater than 85 per cent).
  • Recognised as the first residential project in Australia to receive a 6-Star Green Star ‘design’ rating from the Green Building Council of Australia for the Prince’s Terrace Adelaide. The Terrace encapsulates innovation and world leadership in sustainable design.


  • Launched One DHA, which seeks to bring DHA together under one unified brand proposition. It has been launched to establish a single set of expectations and aligned touch points with our core customer groups.
  • Commenced work towards complying with new accounting standards (enforced from 1 July 2019). DHA will consider its end-to-end operations with a view to identifying an optimal business model that is financially sustainable in a disrupted environment.


  • Launched DHA’s inaugural Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP) that will pave a pathway for DHA to support the national reconciliation movement, establish social change and create economic opportunities for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians across our business.

2017-18 Annual Report