There are seven main steps of a Housing for Health project:

Project establishment

The NSW Health Aboriginal Environmental Health Unit gathers feedback from health services and other agencies to identify communities suitable for a Housing for Health project.

Community selection criteria includes:

  • need (condition of housing and/or health data)
  • availability of project management resources
  • ability to cluster projects in similar locations or co-ordinate with works undertaken by other programs
  • the ability of Housing for Health to support or compliment other work being undertaken in the community.

Once communities are identified and budget is available, a project manager is engaged to begin consultation for each project.

Community consultation and feasibility study

A project manager meets with the community and the housing provider to explain the Housing for Health project. The project only repairs or replaces items specifically related to safety and health, so it is important that there is understanding about what the project will and won't deliver. For example, the project will fix most plumbing and electrical issues (as they relate to health and safety) but doesn't extend to painting or other aesthetic works or renovations.

At this stage, the community considers whether it wants a Housing for Health project or not. If the community agrees, the project manager then undertakes a feasibility study with the housing provider. This includes issues such as defining the houses included in the project, identifying the availability of local trades and community workers and other logistics.

Preparing to implement Survey Fix 1

Once community agreement is obtained and the project is deemed feasible the project manager works with the community to prepare for the next stage. This includes engaging plumbers and electricians; arranging employment of community workers; visiting the houses to explain the project and arranging tools and consumables for use during the next stage.

At this stage, a unique Housing for Health number is given to each of the houses included in the project to ensure confidentiality. Team leaders are selected by the project manager and local team members are arranged to support the next stage of the project.

Survey Fix 1 (SF1)

   SF1 is a comprehensive survey of around 300 items in each house. There is a standard test for each item and the information is recorded on survey sheets. The surveys are carried out by teams of community members led by an environmental health or technical officer. On average it takes around 45 minutes to an hour to complete a house survey.

The first day is mainly spent training teams on how to test and record each item during the survey. Each survey team has a toolbox so they can do minor repairs that do not require a licensed trade (such as change light bulbs or replace a toilet roll holder).

Completed surveys are then entered into a database in the community on the day of the survey. A list of priority works for each house is created for the plumber and electrician. The trades usually start the next morning to go through the work lists generated the previous day. The database becomes the tool for managing the project works.

The trades record each job they have completed and the reasons for each repair; i.e whether they were routine maintenance, faulty materials or workmanship, or damaged by tenants (and not by pests or poor water quality). It may take the trades up to 2 weeks to complete all the urgent works identified at survey. At this stage the houses are assessed and the trades plumber and electricians on site to start fixing urgent items.

Major fix works

At this stage, the design, specification and schedule of works are developed based on the survey data. Some items identified at SF1 are too big to fix on the spot such as re-wiring a house or waterproofing a shower or will take time to replace items such as hot water systems. These larger and more time-consuming works inform the scope of the prioritised major fix works for the project. Visit Housing for Health priorities to see how we prioritise fix works.

This stage can take around six to nine months to complete, depending on the number of houses and the extent of work required.

Survey Fix 2 (SF2)

SF2 is carried out after the major fix works. The process is the same as SF1, using community teams with environmental health team leaders and the same survey questions to check and identify issues around the home. The completed surveys are entered into the database on the day of the survey and trades undertake any remaining urgent works.

At this stage, the project is coming to an end and the fix works are checked.

Reporting back and project completion

Once SF2 is completed, a report is provided to the community or housing provider summarising the outcomes of the project. The results from the first and second survey provide a comparison of house function and condition before and after the project. The report includes a list of works done to each house by each trade, and a list of works that were identified by the surveys but beyond the scope the project budget and recommended for inclusion in any future housing programs.

Current as at: Monday 26 July 2021
Contact page owner: Environmental Health