AUSTRALIAN housing officers Keelin Byrne and Renee Gordon recently toured Incommunities properties in Keighley and the Aire Valley.

They were among the latest 50 'housing leaders of the future' recruited to the internationally-recognised GEM development programme.

GEM is run by the Centre for Partnership, part of Incommunities Group, which manages thousands of former council houses across Bradford district.

During the past 10 years GEM has provided 12 months of intensive learning for 230 talented individuals, most of whom went on to secure prestigious jobs in the housing sector.

As part of its 10th anniversary, GEM recently recruited its biggest group of recruits from across the world, including England, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

The Australian duo work for Hume Community Housing, which manages over 4,500 homes in New South Wales, and on the Keighley tour they were joined by mentor Jacqueline Gaughan.

Keelin said: “Being a GEM gives me the chance to broaden my learning, get an international view of the sector and also build links with other young UK housing professionals who share similar values to me.

“In some ways the Australian housing sector is very different but we also share similar challenges to the UK. It will be great to find out more about your approaches to areas such as a changing welfare system.”

Renee said that coming to the UK meeting young people working in the sector was a fantastic networking opportunity.

She added: "It will be interesting to find out more about the UK approach to tackling homelessness. I am particularly looking forward to working towards a CIH professional qualification as part of the programme."

Incommunities’ Chief Executive Geraldine Howley said GEM was a fabulous opportunity for people to make a name for themselves and take the next step into a rewarding career within the housing sector.

She said: "It’s also a big year for the programme as it celebrates ten years growing from local roots in West Yorkshire to become an internationally recognised programme, attracting recruits from Canada, Hong Kong and now Australia.

"There are exciting times ahead as well as we look to take the GEM model to the next level which includes delivering the programme to Australia within the next three years.”

Trevor Smith, Director of the Centre for Partnership, said that forging international partnerships was heart of GEM's ambitions.

He added: “We know housing is a global issue which needs a pipeline of talented young people to meet the challenges of the future and this is what we are passionate about doing.”