Students from the University of Technology with Ventia GM Community and Housing Angela Williams in the Ventia office

In our quest to be more innovative, sustainable and client focused, Ventia is always looking for new ways to address age-old problems.

To seek new perspectives, Ventia recently partnered with students from the University of Technology (UTS) and its Centre for Social Justice and Inclusion Social Impact Lab on a 14-week project to find ways to empower social housing tenants to be more sustainable.

The project team was led by Ventia's Housing Project Director Ian Ryles and Ventia General Manager Community and Housing Angela Williams who provided guidance and advice to the six students studying a Bachelor of Creative Intelligence and Innovation degree. The students are also studying degrees in design, engineering, business, architecture and communications.

Understanding barriers to sustainability

The team undertook a number a research tasks to come up with a solution, including holding workshops with social housing tenants in Glebe to understand what the barriers were to being sustainable and to get an understanding of the environment they live in.

They found there were opportunities to improve efficiency, communication and trust with the tenants to enable the co-design of sustainable practices within the community.

Developing pragmatic solutions

Ian said it was a unique opportunity to work with a diverse-thinking, talented and multi-disciplined team. 

"The team were very thorough in exploring the problem space and challenged assumptions to develop solutions that were pragmatic and could be readily implemented," Ian said. 

"This project enabled us to tap into an exciting new skill set and use a different methodology to approach the challenge proposed by Ventia.

They were able to approach an age-old problem from a fresh perspective and through a fresh lens.

"They're great working as a team, were very prepared and are pretty dynamic."

A five-year plan based on building trust and relationships

UTS Business undergraduate and project participant Tom Field said the team's solution was a framework for a five-year plan that was based on building relationships and trust between Ventia and the Glebe social housing residents. It would consist of three themes: rethinking waste management; integrated partnering; and transparent communication.

"After working with tenants, we concluded a relationship built on trust and empathy must exist between Ventia and the social housing community to increase engagement and collaboration to enable a positive impact on environmental programs," Tom said.

Through our discussions, we found residents were more sustainable than we thought as they're savvy with money and waste.

"To increase further sustainability opportunities, we have recommended Ventia and other stakeholders have coffee together or hold community barbecues to build relationships so initiatives could be more easily implemented,' Tom said.

"Other initiatives could be a community garden or a worm farm or established a Return and Earn recycling hub on high density unit blocks."

A community garden

Ideas inlcuded a worm farm or community garden for residents. 


Different perspectives from a multi-disciplined team

Tom said he was glad he participated in the project, which the students will be graded on as part of the Bachelor of Creative Intelligence and Innovation.

"We spent a lot of time working with Ian and Angela in the Ventia office and it was interesting visiting their contact centre, which takes a lot of calls from social housing tenants needing repairs and assistance," Tom said.

"Working with students from various disciplines was great, as each person brought a different perspective and they can pick up on something others completely missed.

"It is our hope that the learnings we have gathered and the work we have produced will have a life beyond the end date of this project."

Small incremental changes

Ian said the students had provided an interesting solution that Ventia would consider.

"Sustainability is part of Ventia's DNA, as well as making positive social community engagement and impact," Ian said.

The students' solution doesn't have to be a dramatic change; small incremental changes in a community through education, engagement or other impacts are just as valuable.

"If we can take their ideas and apply them in other areas that would be a fabulous thing."

UTS Industry and Innovation Project

This assignment was part of the UTS Industry and Innovation Project, which is proudly sponsored by Ventia. It recently won the EAUC International Green Gown Award 2022 for 'Next Generation Learning and Skills'. The awards recognise and celebrate the exceptional sustainability initiatives being undertaken by universities and colleges across the world.

Ventia manages more than 60,000 social housing residential properties on behalf of NSW Land and Housing Corporation, providing repairs and maintenance services for around 130,000 tenants in and around the Greater Sydney, Newcastle and Hunter regions. Learn more here:


Watch our video below to hear from the students about this project



Top picture from left: Hannah Martin, Madison Thompson, Ventia Housing Project Director Ian Ryles, Jet Hodgson, Lucy Bryant, Ventia GM Community and Housing Angela Williams and Tom Field.