Defence Housing Australia

DHA was established under the Defence Housing Australia Act 1987 (DHA Act) and is a corporate Commonwealth entity and Government Business Enterprise (GBE) in accordance with the Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Act 2013 (PGPA Act). DHA is a statutory agency under the Public Service Act 1999 (the Public Service Act) and is the only GBE to employ staff in accordance with the Act. Refer to Part 4 of this report for more information about our legislative framework.

In 2012, we established DHA Investment Management Limited (DHA IML) as a wholly owned subsidiary of DHA. DHA IML holds an Australian Financial Services Licence to conduct a financial services business. DHA IML has its own governance structure, including a separate Board of Directors. Refer to Part 4 in this report for a high level summary of DHA IML and its performance in 2016–17. Refer to Part 5 in this report for the consolidated financial statements (DHA and DHA IML) for the period ended 30 June 2017.

Roles and responsibilities

Our primary role is to provide housing and related services to Australian Defence Force (ADF) members and their families in accordance with the DHA Act and service agreements with the Department of Defence (Defence). As a corporate Commonwealth entity and GBE, we must also operate commercially and deliver commercial returns to the Australian Government.

Refer to Financial structure, Services to Defence and Housing portfolio in this section for more information.

Mission and vision

We strive for excellence in the provision of housing and related services to members of the ADF and their families by:

  • supplying quality, integrated and community housing
  • achieving an exceptional degree of client and customer satisfaction
  • providing quality, environmentally sound and economic housing that fits community needs
  • achieving financial results that meet or exceed shareholder and investor expectations.


Our purposes 1in 2016–17, as set out in our Corporate Plan, were:

1. Housing solutions for ADF members and their families

We provide housing solutions to ADF members and their families in accordance with contractual arrangements with Defence. Housing solutions include the provision of:

  • housing for Members with Dependants (MWD) in accordance with the Services Agreement
  • housing for Members without Dependants (MWOD) and Members with Dependants (Unaccompanied) (MWD(U)) in accordance with the Member Choice Accommodation (MCA) Agreement
  • a booking and allocation service for on-base Living-in Accommodation (LIA).

1‘Purposes’ is defined by section 8 of the PGPA Act as ‘the objectives, functions or role’ of an entity. DHA’s role and functions is prescribed in sections 5 and 6 of the DHA Act.

2. Property, tenancy and investor management 2

We provide housing allocation and tenancy management services to ADF members and their families, and property management services to investors. We establish leases through the property investment program, extend existing leases and, where required, negotiate new leases to meet provisioning requirements.

2DHA used the terms ‘lessor’ and ‘Sale and Leaseback program’ in our 2016–17 Corporate Plan and Statement of Corporate Intent. During the year, this terminology was changed to ‘investor’ and ‘property investment program’ respectively. These terms are used throughout this report.

3. Property sourcing

We buy land to meet our provisioning obligations to Defence, construct and, as required, purchase and/or lease new and established houses. We also provide on-base and regional and/or remote housing services to Defence.

4. Portfolio management

We generate capital through our property investment program where we sell property on long term lease back arrangements. In addition, we sell excess land and surplus properties that no longer meet Defence minimum standards or provisioning requirements. We also retain ownership of and manage a portfolio of housing in strategic locations around Australia.

5. Generate shareholder value

We deliver value-for-money services to Defence and seek to generate sufficient revenue to enable us to continue achieving our role on a commercially sustainable basis. We do this while continuing to maintain an operational service delivery model, sound governance practices, a skilled and productive workforce and a safe workplace that delivers high quality and professional outcomes.

Refer to Part 3 in this report for our Annual Performance Statement and a detailed assessment of our performance in 2016–17.

Australian Defence Force family

29 years serving the Defence community

Defence house from the 1980's Defence house (1980s)
Image of Defence house from 2017.
DHA-managed house (2017)

In the early 1980s, Defence housing was outdated and, in some cases, dilapidated. Housing was a negative aspect of Defence Force life and had become a significant contributing factor in attracting and retaining Australian Defence Force (ADF) personnel.

Defence families recall housing with exposed concrete floors, grass growing through floorboards, no insulation, no heating or cooling, no curtains or blinds, bathrooms in need of repair and bare gardens. Repairs and maintenance were inexplicably slow and there was limited support when posting to a new location.

In 1984, the Australian Government launched a special taskforce to examine the various programs for housing assistance provided to ADF members. Based on its examination of Defence housing, the taskforce report confirmed that more than half of the Defence portfolio was in poor condition, below reasonable standard and inappropriately located.

The taskforce found that effective decision making and prompt action for managing housing was inhibited by divided responsibilities among a number of agencies that worked independently of each other. The taskforce recommended housing stock be managed on a commercial basis and that housing be managed as a discrete function.

Defence Housing Authority—now Defence Housing Australia (DHA)—was established as a statutory authority under the Defence Housing Australia Act 1987 and began operations on 1 January 1988. We accepted responsibility for managing more than 23,000 Defence properties in more than 70 locations Australia wide, and set about a Commonwealth-funded $750 million upgrade program over 10 years.

Our work over almost three decades has ensured housing now has a positive impact on ADF member morale and that Defence housing is provided and managed on a commercial basis, in a way that adds to shareholder value.