3rd – 4th May 2018
Uniting Church Hall, Hyde St Bellingen

The Bellingen & Nambucca Affordable Housing Local Solutions Forum focuses on encouraging a range of local solutions to the national affordable housing crisis.

With great speakers coming from near and far to talk about different approaches, the forum will bring together a range of stakeholders including local government, home and land owners, developers, planners, architects and designers, potential investors, financial institutions, real estate agents, service providers, other government representatives and interested community members.

This forum is about exploring local solutions for affordable housing and will be of interest to anyone wanting to learn or get involved with different approaches to affordable housing. We will explore innovative and practical ways to grow affordable, well-designed and homes for people living on the Mid North Coast of NSW that are appropriate to current and predicted demands.

We want to share information which encourages groups of people and relevant agencies to take great ideas forward and turn them into practical actions and hope that some people who come to the forum will form new projects to work on ideas for affordable housing in the Bellingen, Nambucca and greater Mid North Coast region.

Click on speakers name to read their bio.
Speakers include:

We are hosting a fundraising dinner on Thursday night with two interesting key note speakers – Dr Ben Spies-Butcher (Macquarie Uni, NSW Shelter & COTA) and Dr Louise Crabtree (Western Sydney Uni) at Cedar Bar and Kitchen. Funds raised will help us cover costs and fund further local work by the Affordable Housing Action Group.

Tickets for the dinner are $50 and available through the sticky tickets registration link below. Fundraising dinner tickets SOLD OUT.

To view event program, please click button below.

Event Program



Gary White

As NSW Chief Planner Gary is responsible for overseeing projects that will deliver an easier and more efficient planning system as well as providing expert advice on projects that will help our communities in the long term.

With almost 40 years planning experience, Gary has held some of the most senior planning positions both in NSW and Queensland. This includes City Planner for Ipswich City Council, Deputy Director-General for Queensland’s Department of Infrastructure, Local Government and Planning and later as the Department’s first Government Planner, as well as roles within the private sector participating in all aspects of the National Planning Agenda.

“I’ve never doubted my enthusiasm for great planning. My favourite mythical theme aligned to my planning thinking is the phoenix, a creature which despite changes and challenges can keep reinventing itself.”

Gary’s enthusiasm has been at the fore of his career, including one of his proudest achievements was working for Redland Shire Council. In 1989, Gary was instrumental in helping to preserve prime land at Point Halloran Conversation Area. As the council’s town planner, he had the foresight to see the area would be better used for environmental purposes rather than a proposed development.

Today, it is a thriving spot for koalas and native species.

Karen Walsh

Karen joined Shelter NSW as CEO in late 2017. Prior to joining Shelter NSW Karen held two General Manager roles at SGCH from 2010 to 2016, leading the social and affordable housing strategy, policy and delivery; business and service improvement; community regeneration and placemaking; and more recently leading the Group business growth strategy strategic partnerships, innovation and impact. Prior to joining SGCH, Karens career in Australia includes 12 years in the NSW State Government in senior and executive roles in Aboriginal housing, public and community housing leading strategy and reform; strategic policy and partnerships; community regeneration; business development and improvement; and service planning and contracting. Her career in the UK was in child protection and disability services as a qualified social worker. Karen also has two Masters Degrees – in Social Policy (UWS) and an Executive Masters in Public Administration (USyd/UNSW), is as an Associate of the Institute of Public Policy and Governance at University of Technology, Sydney,and is a Graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors.

Karen has been a Director on a number of not for profit Boards, including peak bodies and is currently a Director on the Sydney Heritage Fleet (Sydney Maritime Museum).

Dr John Martin

Dr John Martin is an emeritus professor at La Trobe University. He is a public policy and management scholar who has focused on local government across Australia throughout his career (University of Canberra 1978-98). This has included setting the strategic direction of the council, understanding what makes for an effective working relationship between the elected councillors and senior managers (Queensland University of Technology 1998-02). As the director of two regional research centres (RMIT Hamilton 2002-05 and La Trobe Bendigo 2006-14) his research and consulting has also included working with water authorities, regional development associations and agricultural industries.

John has also worked for international development agencies including the World Bank, the ADB, UNDP and AusAID in the Asia Pacific region and South Africa in the development of local government. In 2015 he was visiting professor in public sector performance management at the University of Cagliari, Sardinia, Italy.

John’s undergraduate degree is in ecology and natural resource management. He holds postgraduate qualifications in public administration, sociology, higher education and a PhD in political science and international relations from the Research School of Social Sciences at the Australian National University (1997).

James Brown

James Brown is the CEO of Common Equity NSW, the peak body for Housing Co-operatives in NSW.

James has over 15 year’s experience in Executive and leadership roles in local government, public health, aged care and housing. Drawing on diverse roles covering political, strategic and practical perspectives in pursuit of the public good. James presents a unique view and is seeking to bring about change in Australia’s housing market by fostering a consumer-led approach to housing.

With a growing body of evidence and many international exemplars, it is time for policy-makers, financiers and developers in Australia to accept the fact that Housing Co-operatives ought to play a significantly bigger role in Australia’s housing market. Housing Co-operatives deliver economic and social benefits at the same time as delivering affordability, diversity, innovation and choice.

Hanna Ebeling

Hanna Ebeling is Head of Portfolio Management at SEFA where she leads a team who works closely with mission-driven organisations to understand what makes them resilient, and how to structure debt instruments to suit their needs. She is passionate about blended finance deals and innovative housing solutions. Prior to Australia, Hanna spent two years in the Philippines, managing an early-stage social enterprise accelerator program for LGT Impact Ventures and writing a business plan on affordable housing with United Nations and the Hilti Foundation. Before moving into impact investing, Hanna spent six years in banking with HSBC globally, lastly working for the CIO of Group Private Banking.

Heather Bolstler

Originally a mother of two and high school drama teacher in Canada, Heather owned and ran a corporate training company in Sydney for many years. Ten years ago she and husband Rick moved to Mitchells Island with two other couples into a cooperatively-designed home. Considerable publicity has been generated by Heather’s book, Shedders, which captures the story of how this group of six created a vision of living together in a small community of trusted friends, how they worked through the fraught process of dealing with the money and the thousand small decisions, and finally how the dream came to be realised beyond expectations.

Tricia Helyar

Tricia Helyar Architect (THA) is a practice based in Bellingen on the mid-north coast of NSW. THA is committed to design excellence with a record of high quality residential projects. Tricia is passionate about architecture and the role architects can play in society and has over 20 years of experience working for individual clients, community organisations and the not-for-profit sector. Tricia has served many roles in professional organisations and is the current Chair of the Australian Institute of Architects NSW Country Division (2016-2018).

Wroth Wall

Wroth Wall is a practicing solicitor from Mullumbimby with over 30 years experience in the issues that relate to or affect communities and groups of individuals who own land together. His experience in this area is unsurpassed in Australia. Wroth has drawn up constitutions, co-owners deeds, trust deeds and other founding documents for hundreds of communities and groups of people on the north coast of NSW and elsewhere. He has pioneered the widespread use of co-owner deeds in the Byron area, initiated the use of lease-hold interests for rural land sharing communities and was the original proponent for the conversion of rural land sharing communities to community title subdivisions. He has represented groups of individuals forming communities, as well as individual landowners and developers.

His work has involved advising on the structure of forming communities, drafting constitutional documents, revising legal arrangements, dealing with conveyancing issues and dealing with disputes between members of groups. As well as working with residential communities, Wroth has acted for religious, permaculture, environmental, indigenous and other not-for-profit groups to help them work together to achieve their shared goals.

Wroth has served on the boards of not for profit organisations for over 30 years, including acting as the chairperson for Northern Rivers Performing Arts for nearly 20 years; and more recently as a board member of Shearwater Steiner School for over seven years. Wroth has a strong view that the not for profit sector is a fundamental element of the future profile for affordable housing in Australia.

Gary Flomenhoft

Gary has a master’s degree in public policy and ecological economics. He was a Research Fellow at the Gund Institute for Ecological Economics at the University of Vermont for 12 years, from 2002-2013.

Whilst living in Burlington, Vermont he was a 10 year, two time resident of Champlain Housing Trust. (Gary is currently a PhD student at UQ focusing on communal mineral rights at the Sustainable Minerals Institute). He is an academic writer on land as a false commodity, and a strong CLT advocate.

Anna Chetan Bloemhard

Anna Bloemhard is a counsellor, she is trained in Conflict Resolution, Gestalt and Mindfulness Therapy. She taught at Southern Cross University in the School of Social Sciences and wrote a Research Masters on the topic of Spiritual Care in RACFs . Her Honours thesis explored how to improve communication and decision making on Bundagen.

From 2006-2009 she conducted the Commonwealth funded ‘Spiritual Care Project’ in Coffs Harbour. Anna now coordinates Miindala, (NALAG Inc), a local volunteer organization that supports people in loss and grief, as well as educating the public about death and dying.

Since 1985 she has lived in Bundagen Community, a rural cooperative with 120 resident members. Over the years she has been the secretary, facilitated community processes, was the Aboriginal liaison, and a member of the conflict resolution group.

Dr Ben Spies-Butcher

Ben Spies-Butcher is a Senior Lecturer and Director of the Masters of Policy and Applied Social Research in the Sociology Department at Macquarie University. His work focuses on how we combine public and private funding of social policy, in areas like housing, healthcare and pensions. Alongside his academic publications he works with a number of civil society groups on these issues. Ben is a Board member of Shelter NSW, a member of the Policy Advisory Group for COTA NSW, a member of the research committee for Unions NSW and a Research Associate at the Retirement Policy and Research Centre at the University of Auckland. He is a Social Policy Whisperer for The Power to Persuade blog and last year was awarded the Glenda Powell Travelling Fellowship by the Australian Association of Gerontologists.

Dr Louise Crabtree

Louise was awarded her PhD in Human Geography from Macquarie University in 2007 and has been with Western Sydney University since 2007. Her research focuses on the social, ecological and economic sustainability of community-driven housing developments in Australia; on the uptake of housing innovation in practice and policy; on complex adaptive systems theory in urban contexts; and, on the interfaces between sustainability, property rights, institutional design and democracy. Her recent and ongoing projects focus on two practical areas funded by a series of competitive research grants — community land trusts and participatory mapping methodologies. Both are being used to simultaneously foster social innovation and equity outcomes on the ground, and explore and build theory on multi-stakeholder governance, decolonisation, property law, resilience and citizenship. Louise’s work on resilience and governance in community housing was the basis for her receipt of the inaugural Housing Minister’s Award for Early Career Researchers in 2009; in announcing the award, the Hon. Tanya Plibersek described the work as ‘crucial’.

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