Research addresses how to end Australia's housing crisis

A national coordinated strategy a must, researchers say

Research addresses how to end Australia's housing crisis

Australia needs a national housing and homelessness strategy to address Australia’s housing crisis and ensure everyone in Australia has adequate housing, new research has suggested.

The study, Towards an Australian Housing and Homelessness Strategy, undertaken for AHURI by researchers from UNSW Sydney and RMIT University, said Australian housing policymaking is divided and argued that this serves as a major constraint to addressing the full scope of the nation’s housing policy challenges coherently.

“Currently, housing and homelessness policies, powers, and responsibilities are shared across Australian federal, state, and local levels of government,” said Chris Martin (pictured above) from UNSW Sydney, lead author of the research. “Also, within the Australian government, housing policy making is divided; no one agency has overall responsibility for housing outcomes and for forming a strategic view of the housing system.”

Martin said that there was a similar fragmentation of responsibilities at the state and territory level, with various agencies holding narrowly defined roles and priorities, making it very difficult for Australians to work as a nation to grapple with the complex and interdependent nature of our housing system.

“A national housing and homelessness strategy would form a strong framework for coordinating housing and homelessness policy development and action across Australia’s different levels of government and public, private, and not-for-profit sectors,” he said.

An analysis of a number of housing strategies being used internationally revealed the necessary steps for a successful Australian national strategy.

Findings showed that it is crucial to build an informed constituency for policy reform, one that is composed of the members of the public whose interests are at stake, and the institutions that affect policy.

Also important to policy reform is accountability, which according to Martin is more than accounting for the expenditure of public money, or for “value for money” in outcomes, but about “demonstrating commitment to the objectives of the reform process, both to the other agencies and stakeholders in the process and to the people it is intended to serve.”

The AHURI study also identified the need for a dedicated housing agency to coordinate and implement strategies.

“Housing Australia could be Australia’s lead housing agency,” Martin said.

In this role, the Housing Australia would be guided by an independent board, be answerable to the housing minister, resource the discussions of the Ministerial Council on Housing and Homelessness; take the lead on communicating with other Commonwealth and state and territory agencies; and present the public face of the strategy.

The report can be downloaded from the AHURI website.

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