AHURI Research Webinar Series

Reforming rental subsidies to support low-income households

Friday 4 December at 12pm (AEDT)

Register here

There is widespread agreement that there is scope for improvements in the main demand-side housing assistance for low-income private renters in Australia – Commonwealth Rent Assistance (CRA) – so as to improve affordability outcomes and targeting for those in greatest housing need. There is also some concern that increases in CRA may be partly shifted into higher rents, potentially blunting the effects of CRA reforms that seek to improve affordability outcomes.

This free webinar presented findings from a new AHURI research project — Demand-side assistance in Australia’s rental housing market: exploring reform options — led by Prof Racheck Ong ViforJ, Curtin University. This report examines how demand-side housing assistance could be reformed in cost-effective ways to improve housing outcomes for low-income private renters.

The webinar will include a research presentation, followed by a discussion with respondent Adrian Pisarski (National Shelter), facilitated by AHURI’s Executive Director Dr Michael Fotheringham and audience Q&A.

In this 90 minute webinar you will learn about:

  • The three modelled reforms of CRA: 
    • Raising the CRA maximum rate by 30 per cent
    • Resetting the rent thresholds to address higher levels of housing stress among income units with no children
    • Changing the CRA eligibility criteria to reflect housing need, defined as low-income private renters paying rents in excess of 30 per cent of their income
  • The impacts of reforming CRA on low-income private renters and likely impacts on market rents
  • The implications for future policy development of CRA


Rachel Ong ViforJProf Rachel Ong ViforJ, Curtin University

Rachel Ong ViforJ is currently a Professor of Economics and Australian Research Council Future Fellow at Curtin University. Her research interests include housing wealth inequality, intergenerational housing concerns, housing pathways, housing affordability dynamics, and the links between housing and non-shelter outcomes. Rachel has published widely in globally recognised interdisciplinary housing and economics journals. Her housing research is often cited in parliamentary debates and senate inquiry reports, and has attracted considerable media attention nationally. Rachel is a member of the National Economic Panel, which comprises leading economists in Australia who comment on topical economic issues. She was the recipient of the 2018 Young Economist Award and the 2019 Professor Mike Berry Award for Excellence in Housing Research.


Adrian PisarskiAdrian Pisarski, Executive Officer, National Shelter

Adrian Pisarski has a  40 year history in the community sector including roles with housing, homelessness, welfare and youth peak bodies in Tasmania, Victoria, NSW, Queensland and nationally.

He was the Executive Officer of Queensland Shelter between 2002 and 2013, the Chairperson of National Shelter between 2004 and 2013 and is currently the Executive Officer of National Shelter. He served on the Board of ACOSS between 2007-2013 and was vice president for five years.

Adrian was a member of the Affordable Housing Summit Group, instrumental to the development of the National Affordable Housing Agreement and NRAS. He has served on numerous advisory bodies for housing, homelessness and youth affairs. He is also a key member of the newly formed National Affordable Housing Alliance.


Tom AlvesDr Tom Alves, AHURI (facilitator)

Tom leads the Professional Services and Strategic Initiatives components of AHURI's business. As Head of Development, he works closely with AHURI’s University partners, Australian governments, industry, the community sector and other stakeholders to deliver responsive, high-quality professional services and to develop AHURI’s standing as an authoritative voice in international housing and urban policy discussion.

Tom has a PhD in Housing and Urban Studies and has held positions at RMIT University and The University of Melbourne in the disciplines of Property, Architecture and Urban Planning. He has substantial experience in policy and advisory work with the Victorian Government and fourteen years’ experience working in architectural practices in Melbourne and Sydney.