Ideas & Society Program: Australia’s Housing Crisis

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La Trobe University’s Ideas and Society Program has convened an outstanding panel--to analyse the nature of the current housing crisis in Australia and to try to answer the most basic of all political questions: What Is To Be Done?

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Tuesday 23 May 2023 05:00 pm until Tuesday 23 May 2023 06:30 pm (Add to calendar)
University Events
Presented by:
Ideas & Society Program
Type of Event:
Public Lecture
Free to register

If one of the most fundamental obligations of government is the provision of adequate housing for its people, it is self-evident that in recent times governments in Australia—both the Commonwealth government and the states—have failed. Australia now faces a genuine multi-dimensional housing crisis. One of the greatest achievements of Australian democracy in the twentieth century—the promise of “a home of one’s own”—has been allowed quietly to die.

The particular problems are very well known:

  • There are far too few houses and apartments in Australia to cater for the present population and the current unusually high level of “post-covid” returnees and immigrants, currently running at near record annual levels of 400,000 or more.
  • The construction of new dwellings is limited by the size of the building industry and by the availability of supplies.
  • Houses and apartments in Australia are among the most expensive in the world.
  • One consequence is that younger generations of Australians, beginning with the “millennials”, are effectively priced out of the market. Some will eventually inherit a house or apartment from their parents, many however not until they are over fifty.
  • Another consequence is that those who took out home loans when interest rates were close to zero have either already faced steadily increasing mortgage payments over the past ten months or will soon face a sudden sharp increase when the period of fixed repayments comes to an end. It is far from certain that interest rates will not rise even further.
  • For those who do not own houses or apartments the supply of rental properties is far smaller than the demand. In general, annual rent increases are largely uncontrolled and have risen sharply especially over the past year. The growth in the profitable “air bnb” market has not helped.
  • Heartbreakingly, many single mothers with young children; many older women or older couples; many of those whose homes have been rendered unliveable in the recent floods—are all now faced by the very real possibility of homelessness.
  • Neither the Commonwealth nor the states are presently planning a major increase in the supply of public housing. The Albanese government has proposed building 30,000 dwellings over the next five years at a cost of $10 billion. The legislation was rejected by the Coalition for budgetary reasons and by the Greens for its manifest insufficiency.
  • Housing for Indigenous Australians living in the regions is a national disgrace.

La Trobe University’s Ideas and Society Program has convened an outstanding panel--to analyse the nature of the current housing crisis in Australia and to try to answer the most basic of all political questions: What Is To Be Done?

Hear from:

Participating Chair: Peter Mares

Peter Mares is an independent writer and researcher. He is the author of No Place Like Home: Repairing Australia’s Housing Crisis and writes regularly about housing and other public policy issues for Inside Story magazine. Peter is also member of the moderating team at the Cranlana Centre for Ethical Leadership, a fellow of the Centre for Policy Development, and an adjunct senior research fellow at Monash University’s School of Media, Film & Journalism. Peter spent 25 years as a broadcaster with the ABC, presenting national radio programs and working as a foreign correspondent based in Southeast Asia. His two other books are Not Quite Australian: how temporary migration is changing the nation and Borderline, an award-winning analysis of Australia’s approach to refugees and asylum seekers.

Jennifer Kulas

Jennifer is a 2020 Churchill Fellow who has undertaken international research exploring innovative housing models for women and women-headed households.

She has previously worked as a development manager at Nightingale Housing and principal policy advisor of Affordable Housing at the City of Melbourne. She currently consults on a number of affordable housing developments in the sector.

Jennifer holds a Master of Architecture  from the University of Melbourne

Dr Richard Denniss

Executive Director of the Australia Institute, Dr Richard Denniss is a prominent economist, author and public policy commentator, and a former Associate Professor in the Crawford School of Public Policy at ANU. He is the author of several books including: Econobabble, Curing Affluenza, Dead Right: How Neoliberalism Ate Itself and What Comes Next? and Big: The Role of the State in the Modern Economy.

Dr Julie Lawson

Dr Julie Lawson is principal author of the comprehensive UN published study #Housing2030 which examines a range of policy tools and good practices to promote affordable, inclusive and sustainable housing in 56 countries and co-author of several pathbreaking international reports on land policies, financial intermediaries and the governance of affordable housing, most recently co-authoring Rebuilding a place to call home, with Ukrainian researchers Anisimov, Fedorova, Tkachenko and Buitelaar (launched May in Kyiv). She is Adjunct Professor with the Centre for Urban Research, RMIT University, Australia (based in Warsaw, Europe) and also long time co-editor of the international housing journal Housing Theory and Society.  Julie collaborates on several podcasts, co-producing the Housing Journal Podcast and Making a House a Home series on Housing2030 and Tools to tame financialization.

For Australia, Julie’s work has catalysed national housing and urban policy reforms through strategic international knowledge exchange, contributing to the establishment of National Housing Finance Investment Corporation, evaluating different pathways for investing in affordable housing, and undertaking needs assessments and costing for nationwide investment in social housing. She has also examined how housing policy can better fit within our federal-state housing structures and is part of RMITs leadership team for the Inquiry into a National Housing Strategy for Australia. Her work has also informed the Inquiry into a Circular Economy Strategy for Housing with Louise Dorignon and Ralph Horne and contributed to the recent Inquiry into Home Ownership Assistance together with colleagues across the AHURI network.

Online Series



8 Dec 2023 3:42 am

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