It gives me great pleasure to provide the foreword to the Defence Housing Australia Annual Report 2014–15.
I was appointed Chairman of the DHA Board of Directors in February 2015 after acting in the role from November 2014. As a member of DHA's Board of Directors since July 2008, I have witnessed the maturity and expansion of the business firsthand. I am now pleased to have the opportunity to help lead this dynamic and service oriented organisation into the future.
I would like to acknowledge my predecessor, Mr Derek Volker AO, and recognise his contribution to DHA's significant achievements over his time as Chairman. DHA benefited greatly from his knowledge of the workings of government and his astute eye for detail. He also established a culture of excellence in service delivery, which I hope to uphold and build upon.
Our support of government
In 2014–15, DHA continued to play a vital role supporting the Australian Government by delivering effective and efficient housing and related services for ADF members and their families. We also provided financial support through an annual dividend payment of $54.6 million.
In May 2015, following an independent scoping study into ownership options of DHA, we welcomed the Government's decision not to proceed with privatisation at this time. Their vote of confidence in the way we serve ADF members and their families is encouraging.
I would like to thank the Hon. Stuart Robert MP, former Assistant Minister for Defence and our operational minister, as well as all our former Shareholder Ministers throughout 2014–15, for their continued support of DHA and our activities. I urge the new ministers to participate in our events wherever possible throughout 2015–16, and see the excellent work we do firsthand.
Our support of the Defence community
DHA has a proud history of supporting the broader Defence community and we made a significant contribution in 2014–15. We provided sponsorship and goods-in-kind to various Defence-related organisations. This included, but was not limited to, Legacy, Soldier On, Defence Families of Australia and a number of Defence Community Organisation groups.
We continued to celebrate the Anzac Centenary (2014–18), particularly 100 years since the Gallipoli landing. I was delighted to host events at two of our large-scale, flagship developments in Sydney. We named AE2 in Ermington in honour of the efforts of those on board the HMAS AE2 submarine. We named precincts and amenities in our Crimson Hill project at Lindfield in honour of the seven recipients of the Victoria Cross at the Battle of Lone Pine.
DHA was also the Australian presenting partner of Nomanslanding, an international commemorative art exhibition at Darling Harbour in Sydney. The interactive exhibition provided us a great opportunity to educate everyday Australians about the valuable services we provide ADF members and their families, as well as demonstrate our respect for past and present Service men and women.
Our support of the broader community
DHA actively engages local businesses and tradespeople to help us deliver high-quality housing and related services in all locations where the ADF has a presence. This includes our construction and development pipeline of more than $2 billion. In doing so, we not only contribute to the local economy, but the wellbeing of the wider community. We also support the real estate and finance industries through our successful Sale and Leaseback (SLB) program, direct leasing program, and acquisition activities.
Our priorities for the coming year
As in 2014–15, during this financial year DHA will focus on delivering our Corporate Plan objectives and business strategies. We will continue to operate as commercially as possible; ensuring we meet our service obligations to the DoD and provide the Australian Government with a strong financial return.
In line with our performance culture and focus on innovation, we will continue to work with the DoD and the Department of Finance to improve our operations. Most importantly, we will ensure this activity does not compromise the quality of service we deliver our customers and clients and/or negatively affect their satisfaction levels.
We will continue to expand our programs and services strategically, particularly in terms of our mature SLB program and the further development of housing services to single ADF members. These activities will help to ensure our long-term financial sustainability and result in more ADF members having access to DHA-managed accommodation and related services.
We will also continue to be responsive to the needs of the Australian Government and seek to be an example of best practice in both the public and private sectors.
In closing, I would like to thank all staff for their ongoing efforts and achievement. Their dedication, from top to bottom, is extraordinary.
I would also like to thank my engaged and capable Board of Directors. Special thanks to the Hon. Arch Bevis and Mrs Margaret Walker whose terms as directors of the Board have ended. You both served terms of distinction and I will miss your wise counsel.
I look forward to a challenging and exciting year ahead.
Hon. J.A.L. (Sandy) Macdonald