The Origins of Northern Suburbs Aged Housing Association

From time to time, people have inquired about the origins of the Association. Where and when did it happen? Who was involved? What were they trying to achieve?

During 1977 and 1978 David Kilner was employed as a social worker with the Eastern Domiciliary Care Service, covering the city of Adelaide, Prospect and also a part of Enfield. He saw many aged pensioners in need of good accommodation. At this time he also joined the Enfield, Prospect and Walkerville Community Development Board. This was a group of local people concerned with developing responses to community needs.

There had been an Aged Care Committee working under this group some years prior, which had fallen away. The committee had done some good work and had produced a report, which pinpointed accommodation as an unmet need. However very little had resulted from this report.

Two other members, Graham Leditschke and Frank Kammer (both of whom have since sadly died) and David Kilner revived the Aged Care Committee. Other locals like Phyliss Walsh also joined the Committee about that time.

It was clear to the committee that aged care accommodation was one of those problems that never seems to go away. The committee wrote a major report in 1978 to the Community Council. It is interesting to read in this report the gem of the idea for Broadview House.

How long it takes for ideas to come to fruition! At that time none of us involved had any practical solutions beyond encouraging local government to involve themselves, something which the Prospect Council later did, but which did not attract great enthusiasm from Enfield Council.

Late in 1978, David Kilner went to work for the Emergency Housing Office (then a part of the Department of Housing but later under the wing of the South Australian Housing Trust). In 1979 the idea of housing co-operatives was floated in South Australia.

As David Kilner recalls, the basic idea came from Greg Smith in the State Department of Housing or Greg Black in the Emergency Housing Office. David Kilner has a paper written on the topic of housing co-operatives written by Greg Smith and dated June 1979.

The idea behind housing co-operatives was to form a small community group which could borrow money from a bank or building society in order to house people on low incomes. These loans would then be guaranteed by the South Australian Housing Trust and the loan repayments would also be subsidized by the State Government.

The idea was taken up by the Government and the South Australian Housing Trust. Federal Government funds were tight and it was thought that housing co-operatives could gain access to private funds as a way of supplementing the work of the South Australian Housing Trust.

The South Australian Housing Trust held a seminar at The Parks Community Centre in February 1980 at which the General Manager outlined three reasons for supporting housing co-operatives in South Australia.

Those reasons were:

  • they would provide more diversity in housing so as to respond to people’s needs better,
  • they would enable people to control their own housing, and,
  • they would tap into the private finance market.

The first group to take advantage of the new scheme was the Women’s Shelters Housing Association, under the leadership of Dawn McMahon. This group was incorporated in December 1980 and successfully negotiated a loan with the Co-operative Building Society.

As David Kilner was working at the Emergency Housing Office, all this activity was very familiar to him. The scheme was just what he needed – small and manageable – for aged people in need of accommodation.

The Aged Care Committee by that time included people like Pam Davies (now one of our tenants) from Prospect Council, Val Cahalan from Walkerville Information Service, Sue Davidson from Walkerville Council and Joan Fitzgerald from Domiciliary Care.

David Kilner put the idea of “Northern Suburbs Aged Housing Association” to the Committee in August 1980 and it was accepted both by the Committee and the Community Development Board.

The name “Northern Suburbs Aged Housing Association” was just a working title and it was thought it would change to something that sounded better, but the Committee never got around to it!

A Steering Committee was established in September 1980, the members being, Val Calahan, Pam Davies, Mr & Mrs Norley of the Aged Pensioners Association, Joan Fitzgerald, Joy McLennon of SACOTA (South Australian Council On The Ageing), Sue Davidson, Mr Rawlings from the Adelaide Benevolent and Strangers Friendly Society and David Kilner.

Their major task at that stage was to find out who was interested in joining the Committee, to draft a Constitution, and talk to the South Australian Housing Trust. At this time the Committee was still under the wing of the Community Development Board, which provided invaluable secretarial support.

In February 1981, the Steering Committee called a well attended public meeting in the Prospect Civic Centre. David Kilner gave an introductory talk about housing co-operatives and the housing needs of local aged people. There were lots of questions, then the Association was officially formed and the Constitution adopted.

The first Board of Management were as follows, David Kilner (Chairperson), Jean Moretti (Secretary), John Tucker (Honorary Treasurer), David Cunnew (South Australian Housing Trust representative), Pam Davies, Mr Rawlings, Val Calahan, Jean Fitzgerald, Sue Davidson, Joy McLennon, Mr Norley and Beth Dorsett.

John Harley was appointed our Honorary Solicitor, on the suggestion of Joy McLennon, and has proven to be a mainstay of the Association.

The strong support of the Prospect Council should also be recognized, particularly through Pam Davies. Also around this time another long-serving member of the Association, Helen Poulson, from the local Social Security office, became involved.

Many other good people have followed since, and the Association is indebted to and will never forget the hard work and dedication of those people that formed the foundation on which the Association has been able to grow upon.

It was very sad that Frank Kammer, who had done so much work for his fellow pensioners, passed away shortly before the Association was founded.

The Association was incorporated shortly after that public meeting, but it then took over twelve months to finalize the Financial Agreement with the South Australian Housing Trust before the Association could acquire its first property.

The Association wrote to every bank and building society in Adelaide and received positive responses from the Hibernian Building Society and the National Bank.

This was enough to finance the first two properties, one in Sefton Park and one in Prospect.

It is perhaps indicative of the foundation built by the Association’s founders that both these properties remain Association properties to this day.

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