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Tenant participation in public housing

Since June 2000, DCJ (formerly Housing NSW) has actively encouraged tenants to get involved and play a part in shaping the delivery of public housing through tenant participation and consultation.

Funding is set aside each year by DCJ to run a number of activities that enable tenants to have a say in decisions that affect their homes and neighbourhoods.

Tenant Participation initiatives are supported by nominated District staff at a local level, and corporately by Community Homes and Place in Ashfield.

Tenant participation aims to build partnerships between tenants and social housing providers to:

  • Improve the skills, knowledge and ultimately the quality of life of social housing tenants
  • Support and strengthen communities
  • Improve the way social housing is delivered and managed

Tenant participation initiatives include:

Community Greening

In recent years, many hectares of land on NSW social housing areas have been devoted to community gardening.

Over 50,000 residents have participated in the scheme, sharing valuable skills and friendships as they work to improve their local environment. Across NSW, abandoned back-lots, wasteland and balconies have been converted into areas growing vegetables, fruit and flowers.

By supporting community gardens in social housing areas, DCJ helps build safer and stronger communities.

Growing communities

By providing a range of activities and attracting strong community involvement, the gardens have:

  • increased tenant involvement in community life
  • encouraged interaction and stronger communication between tenants of diverse ages and backgrounds
  • provided an outlet for healthy exercise and a healthy food source
  • allowed tenants to acquire a range of vocational skills in gardening, planning, teamwork, resource allocation and decision making
  • given tenants a genuine sense of pride and accomplishment, and
  • improved people’s understanding and appreciation of their physical environment

Community gardens are a focal point for people to share valuable gardening skills, produce and friendships. They make a significant contribution to improved social cohesion, crime reduction and public health in both urban and regional New South Wales.

Partnership approach

Community gardens are supported under the Community Greening Program - a partnership between DCJ and the Royal Botanic Gardens and Domain Trust, with additional support from Eden Foundation and the involvement of local councils, community housing providers, non-government organisations and private sponsors.

Greening areas

There are over 200 gardening projects on or near social housing areas across NSW from Minto to Dubbo, including:

  • Community gardeners in Redfern, a high density public housing estate in inner city Sydney, have formed a community ‘beautification’ group and been supported to design, create and maintain their buildings’ garden areas. Residents from diverse backgrounds (including Aboriginal, Russian, Vietnamese and Chinese) have created a flourishing cactus garden as well as communal herbs and vegetable gardens. These keen gardeners have begun cultivating plants to expand their greening to neighbouring buildings.
  • Popular community gardens in Telopea, Lalor Park and Gladesville were each awarded first place in their respective local government community garden competitions in 2015.
  • Community gardens in Albury produce vegetables, fruit and flowers and are branching out into “bush tucker” planting including lemon myrtle, finger lime and pigface. Albury residents say that the gardens bring the community together and allows them to create a safe and respectful place.
  • Community gardens in Taree, involve a number of local organisations, including local high schools and employment services. The space is divided into a number of sections used by the various community groups and partners. The community gardens are working with local schools to create a Rainbow Serpent Garden, building on the established children’s sensory garden. This project has been supported by the donation of a large quantity of plants.

Role of DCJ

DCJ helps people living in social housing to establish and maintain community gardens by:

  • advertising the Community Greening program in DCJ newsletters
  • making land available for community gardens
  • continuing to build partnerships with other service providers
  • supporting linkages between tenant employment and training programs and Community Greening initiatives.

Community Greening supporters

The following organisations and business support the program through in-kind agreements:

  • Eden Foundation and Eden Gardens
  • Oasis Horticulture
  • Northcote Pottery
  • Major’s Mulch
  • Alpine Nurseries
  • Plantmark Nursery
  • Yates

The Royal Botanic Garden Community Greening page has advice on setting up a community garden and contact details for local community gardens.

Housing Communities program

DCJ provides grant funding under the Housing Communities Program (HCP) to eligible organisations to build cohesion and to improve community wellbeing in locations across NSW affected by significant social, economic, environmental and/or housing change. Funds provided are primarily used to employ staff to work with social housing communities to address priority needs in the selected locations.

Housing Communities Program providers

DCJ District

Program location


Contact Details

Nepean Blue Mountains

Cranebrook / Kingswood Park

Nepean Community & Neighbourhood Services

02 4721 8520

South Western Sydney

Ambarvale / Rosemeadow

The Junction Works Limited

02 8777 0500

Western Sydney

Mt Druitt

UCA – Parramatta Nepean Presbytery

02 9835 3720


Redfern / Waterloo

Counterpoint Community Services (formerly The Factory Community Centre)

02 9698 9569

South Eastern Sydney


Riverwood Community Centre

02 9533 0117 or 02 9533 0100

Illawarra Shoalhaven

Southern suburbs of Wollongong

Warrawong Residents Forum Incorporated

02 4275 1875

Western NSW


Dubbo City Council

02 6801 4403


Wagga Wagga

The Red Cross

02 6937 3140 or 02 6937 3143

Tenant Participation and Community Engagement Program

The aim of the TPCE is to improve outcomes for DCJ housing tenants. It does this by making it easier for tenants to access information and advice about their housing, and by providing tenants with more opportunities to be involved in decisions on their tenancies and communities.

More information is available on the TPCE factsheet

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Last updated: 24 Sep 2019