Governance, Committee & Staff

The current Executive Committee comprises new and ongoing members.

These are:

  • Chairperson – Wendy Middleton (Argyle Community Housing)
  • Secretary - Deb Pippen (Tenants' Union ACT)
  • Public Officer – Kate Cvetanovski (Northside Community Service)
  • Treasurer – Michael Burton (Woden Community Service)

Other Committee Members:

  • Andrew Rowe (Common Ground)
  • Joe Zabar (Catholic Social Services) 
  • Alex Wahlin

This committee represents a broad cross-section of the sector and brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to the work of ACT Shelter.


Executive Officer
Travis Gilbert

Admin & Membership Engagement Officer
Barbara Chevalier


Download our Rules of Association

Our Strategic Plan

Vision – what we want to achieve in the long-term in a perfect world

ACT Shelter’s vision is for all Canberrans to find an affordable, appropriate, safe and secure place to call home.

Our Values


ACT Shelter will demonstrate this by:

  • Carrying out our duties with due diligence, honesty and trust;
  • Being transparent with our members, funding body and other stakeholders;
  • Entering into negotiations and partnerships in good faith;
  • Fostering a culture of accountability; and
  • Committing to an annual independent audit of our financial statements.


ACT Shelter will demonstrate this by:

  • Having a positive impact on housing and homelessness and related policy;
  • Being knowledgeable and well informed about legislation, policies, programs and research relevant to affordable housing consumers;
  • Being recognised and respected for our expertise in housing and related matters; and
  • Affecting positive change on community attitudes and people’s lives.


ACT Shelter will demonstrate this by:

  • Upholding the principle that everyone is entitled to a ‘fair go’;
  • Advocating for equitable access to housing and related services;
  • Improving access to information and resources pertaining to housing and homelessness and related matters;
  • Removing barriers to accessing housing in the ACT;
  •  Working proactively to ensure the right of every person to access affordable, appropriate, safe and secure housing is realised;and
  • Ensuring that everyone is afforded equal opportunity to work for and/or participate ACT Shelter and our work.


ACT Shelter will demonstrate this by:

  • A demonstrated commitment to organisational sustainability
  • Being determined and focused
  • Ensuring we are a strong voice for affordable housing consumers;
  • Not giving up in the pursuit of our goals and objectives; and
  • Remaining resilient.


ACT Shelter will demonstrate this by:

  • Developing and maintaining strong relationships with stakeholders to influence policy-makers and systems;
  • Participating in relevant interagency forums, groups/taskforces and research partnerships to the full extent our capacity allows;
  • Partnering with aligned, values based organisations; including but not limited to undertaking funded, collaborative projects; and
  • Working collaboratively with our members and stakeholders to maximise our impact.

Our Key Focus Areas

Advocacy and Strategic Advice

ACT Shelter will advocate for:

  • Concrete action to progress the realisation of the right to affordable, appropriate, safe and secure housing for all Canberrans;
  • Equitable access to housing that not only meets people’s needs but enhances health and wellbeing, life opportunities and quality of life;
  • The removal of discrimination in the housing market on the basis of factors such as age, disability, ethnicity, gender, health status, or sexuality;
  • Increased investment in social and affordable housing;
  • Meaningful consumer engagement and participation in decisions that affect the provision of housing in the ACT and its accessibility; and
  • National leadership in housing and homelessness including the development and implementation of a national plan to increase the supply of affordable and social housing and reduce homelessness

ACT Shelter will provide strategic advice:

  • To government and other key stakeholders to progress the six priority advocacy areas outlined above;
  • About relevant housing and homelessness matters at an ACT level;
  • In response to Government policies and proposals that are likely to have an impact on the lives of affordable housing consumers and the services they utilise;
  • As requested by Government in line with the obligations specified in our Service Funding Agreement; and
  • To other key stakeholders in the housing and homelessness space as necessary.


As a members based peak organisation ACT Shelter will:

  • Aim to effectively represent the interests and views of our members to Government and other stakeholders;
  • Provide opportunities for members to inform policy development and advice to Government in a manner consistent with the objectives and vision of the association;
  • Aim to grow our membership in order to build on our influence and bring new expertise into the organisation; and
  • Work collaboratively with our members to improve housing outcomes for all Canbnerrans.

Organisational sustainability

In order to ensure a sustainable future for the association, ACT Shelter will:

  • Meet the requirements of our funded service agreement by embedding these in our operational plan;
  • Enter into strategic alliances and partnerships with like-minded organisations and key stakeholders to maximise influence and resource efficiency;
  • Proactively seek to diversify our funding base;
  •  Investigate opportunities for ‘fee for service’ value-adds in addition to our core work;
  • Support Staff and Board learning, development and training opportunities; and
  • Ensure policies and procedures are in place to enable us to meet financial and legal obligations; and
  • Engage an external auditor to conduct an independent examination of the financial statements prepared by the organisation every year, irrespective of the level of public funding the association receives.

Community Awareness

ACT Shelter will increase community awareness of matters affecting affordable housing consumers:

  • By promoting the importance of public, community and affordable housing as both a social and economic good as well as critical infrastructure.
  • Through forums and events aimed at increasing knowledge about specific housing and homelessness related issues;
  • By partnering with members and other relevant organisations to host events or promote activities to increase public knowledge of housing and homelessness issues;
  • Via social media and traditional media both proactively and reactively; and
  • By partnering with relevant organisations to facilitate sector development and training opportunities for our members and stakeholders. 


ACT Shelter believes independent research is an essential component of the housing and homelessness planning, policy and implementation; we will

  • Actively seek public funding for housing and homelessness related research;
  • Pursue opportunities to partner with Universities, Institutes and other research bodies;
  • Enter into collaborative research partnerships and policy consortiums in order to leverage research capability and maximise use of resources and reach; and
  • Seek funding from philanthropic sources to undertake relevant research projects on housing and homelessness and related matters.

Our key stakeholders

ACT Shelter members

  • The lifeblood of our organisation; and
  • We exist to represent the interests of our members.


  • Funding body and major provider of social housing;
  • Legislation, policy and program development affecting affordable housing consumers;
  • Funder of community services (including homelessness); and
  • Land-holder

People on low to moderate incomes in all households and tenures

  • The reason we exist; and
  • The need for equity across the housing continuum motivates us to do well;

People who are experiencing homelessness

  • Their need for affordable, safe and secure housing drives our advocacy; and
  • Many of our members provide direct support to people who are experiencing homelessness in the ACT.

Housing providers

  • Critical friends – they provide the bricks and mortar and tenancy management (in the case of community housing) for the people whose interests we represent; and
  • ACT Shelter will work with providers to promote public, community and affordable housing.

Providers of homelessness and other social and community services

  • Critical friends – many of these services are our members as well as providing support to affordable housing consumers and people in need of housing; and
  • Key partners in our advocacy, policy and sector development work.

The broader property sector – industry bodies, architects, builders, developers, landholders and real estate agents;

  • Key partners – we are all in this together and ACT Shelter is committed to liaising and networking with broader housing industry stakeholders; and
  • Shared advocacy – On areas in which we find common ground, there is strength in numbers if we partner to achieve mutually beneficial outcomes.

Housing research organisations (including Universities)

  • Research drives better practice;
  • Research findings inform our advocacy and policy advice; and
  • ACT Shelter will seek to partner with housing researchers wherever possible to strengthen our evidence base.


  • ACT Shelter will proactively work to generate media interest and stories about housing and homelessness and related issues; and
  • ACT Shelter will work with traditional, newer and emerging media and communications tools to promote issues we believe are important;
  • Media can play a role as agents of change (attitudinal, political & social).

The general public

  • All Canberrans are our stakeholders. ACT Shelter will engage with community on issues related to affordable housing and ending homelessness for people.



  • About

Our History

The organisation has a long history – 15 years – of advocating for the housing rights of people on low to moderate incomes in the ACT.

ACT Shelter was incorporated under the ACT Associations Incorporation Act in April 1996. Prior to this a small group of dedicated volunteers had been working for some 10 years in the social housing sector raising housing issues for low to moderate income earners with the Government.  A Shelter representative was invited to sit on the ACT Government’s Housing Advisory Committee but without funding, there were limitations on how far we could effectively represent the housing needs of people on low to medium incomes.

ACTCOSS at this time were funded by the ACT Government to employ a housing support worker but most other States and Territories had funded independent Housing Peak bodies which were networked under the umbrella of the federally funded National Shelter. So in 1996 the ACT Government agreed to fund a newly incorporated ACT Shelter for $50,000 per annum. We have gratefully received funding support from the ACT Government since that time.

Over the last 15 years, ACT Shelter Incorporated has worked with community and government on several levels in advocating for safe, secure and affordable housing for low to middle-income ACT residents. 

ACT Shelter has provided major input into the ACT Homelessness Strategy: Breaking the Cycle (2004); the Affordable Housing Action Plan (2007); the ACT Social Plan and the ACT Social Compact between the Community Sector and Government; the ACT Housing Advisory Committee; the ACT Homelessness Advisory Committee; and the Anti-Poverty Task Force.  The lack of affordable housing in the ACT was (and is) a significant factor highlighted in all the ACT Government final plans and strategies from all of these government and community initiatives.  It is also as a consequence of these partnerships that the ACT Government continues to maintain the highest percentage of public housing in the country in recognition of the high price and scarcity of suitable and sustainable private sector housing in the ACT.

A major piece of work for ACT Shelter in 2005/6 was to raise awareness of Housing as a Human Right. Our project, funded with the assistance of ACTCOSS and the Youth Coalition of the ACT, distributed cards and posters throughout the ACT raising awareness that housing is a basic right which should be afforded to all citizens.

Consultative mechanisms in which we have had an ongoing role are: the Joint Community Government Reference Group; the ACT Community Sector Task Force; and Joint Pathways. These committees are joint ACT Government/Peaks meetings that look at the whole-of-government relationships with the community sector.  It was as a result of the community sector task force in the mid-2000s that the ACT Government committed to giving their community partners annual funding increases of a wage-based CPI which enables the agencies to ensure their staff are getting remuneration that keeps up with inflation.

Since 2000 ACT Shelter has also played an active role working with our community sector partners in highlighting specific issues with the general public such as Anti-Poverty Week and Tenancy Week. 

ACT Shelters Vision

What we want to achieve in the long-term in a perfect world. ACT Shelter believes that housing is a human right. Our vision is that everyone’s home be recognised as the safe, secure, affordable, sustainable foundation to well-being.


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