HousingFirst appoints new Chair - Janine Kirk AM, (Hon) LLD, MAICD


The Board of Directors of leading Victorian community housing association, HousingFirst Ltd, has appointed Ms Janine Kirk AM as Chair of the Board of Directors.


Ms Kirk has a distinguished career in senior leadership and governance positions across private, government and not-for-profit sectors. Her professional roles included 12 years as Chief Executive of the Committee for Melbourne, Ernst & Young partner responsible for the Victorian Government & Public Sector practice, and most recently founding Chief Executive of what is now the Prince’s Trust Australia, where she retired from the role in 2019.


Ms Kirk will replace Frank O’Connor, who will step down after seven years as HousingFirst Chair at the organisation’s October board meeting but he will remain on the Board.

Mr O’Connor said the Board was absolutely delighted to appoint a Chair of the calibre and integrity of Ms Kirk.


“Her extraordinary experience in commercial and administrative leadership and governance has been at state, national and international level and across commercial enterprises, peak bodies, government boards, taskforces and committees, as well as large and small not-for- profit and community organisations.


“The skills Janine will bring to HousingFirst are significant, as we pursue an ambitious growth strategy to deliver good homes for Victorians in desperate need.  Our growth and ambition needs continued, high-quality governance and oversight,” Mr O’Connor said.


“Throughout her long and remarkable professional career, Janine has consistently found time and capacity to give back to the community. She has been a major contributor to community organisations and to public service in Victoria.”


Ms Kirk has served as a board member and past-President of Victorian family & child protection agency Berry Street, is a former director of the Cranlana Centre for Ethical Leadership and was a Founding Director of the Victorian Endowment for Science Knowledge & Innovation (VESKI).  She is currently Chair of Phoenix Australia - Centre for Posttraumatic Mental Health, and Deputy Chair, Council for Women and Families United by Defence Service.


She received an Order of Australia (AM) in 2006 for her contribution to Melbourne and to Child Welfare.


Ms Kirk said she was thrilled to have the opportunity to contribute to an organisation that  provides housing to people in need.


“Particularly now, as we brace ourselves for the long-term economic shock and social impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, social and affordable housing will be more necessary than ever,” Ms Kirk said.


“It is the role of enduring housing providers like HousingFirst to help take pressure off a strained public housing sector and provide innovative social and affordable housing that gives people a decent home-base, where they can build their lives.”


Ms Kirk said her interest in housing grew rapidly from a project she led in 2017 for the Prince’s Charities Australia. The Prince’s Terrace Adelaide is an innovative, multi award-winning environmentally sustainable housing development for defence members, developed in partnership with Defence Housing Australia, SA Renewal and the South Australian State Government.


“Through that project I learned just how much housing is acutely needed, across Australia, to eliminate homelessness and provide homes for the alarming number of people currently without access to affordable housing.”


“Having a safe place to call home is surely a basic human right in our country.”


“I am proud to be asked to join the highly committed and capable Board at HousingFirst and  help deliver their Mission.”

Pictures Janine Kirk

HousingFirst new Chair Janine Kirk AM