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With acute housing affordability and availability challenges across the nation, the new Commonwealth Government has committed to developing a National Housing and Homelessness Plan, with the support and assistance of key stakeholders including States and Territories, local governments and a range of other experts in housing, finance and urban development.

To this end, it is timely to consider the group of Ministers responsible for government housing and homelessness policy in the Commonwealth, State and Territory governments are, and what departments report to them.

Commonwealth

Hon Julie Collins MP
Minister for Housing; Minister for Homelessness (appointed May 2022)
Formerly Minister for Housing and Homelessness (July 2013 –September 2013)
Through the Department of Social Services

The Department is tasked with increasing housing supply, improving community housing and assisting individuals experiencing homelessness through targeted support and services. In particular the Department oversees and works with the Treasury and state and territory housing departments to implement the National Housing and Homelessness Agreement (NHHA). The Australian Government spends around $1.6 billion a year under the NHHA, which includes $129 million in homelessness funding in 2020–21 (which the states and territories must match).

In 2020-21 the Department delivered over $5.4 billion in Commonwealth Rent Assistance payments to help more than 1.49 million individuals and families renting in the private rental market or living in community housing. The Department also oversees the National Rental Affordability Scheme.

Through the Treasury

The Treasury oversees a number of portfolios that are relevant the financial landscape of housing and homelessness issues including the Australian Tax Office ATO, the Reserve Bank of Australia, the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority and the National Housing Finance and Investment Corporation (NHFIC).

The incoming Albanese Government have outlined a housing policy platform across a number of key areas, although responsibility for these policies have yet to be assigned to relevant departments.

New South Wales

Hon Natasha Maclaren-Jones MLC
Minister for Families and Communities, and Minister for Disability Services (appointed December 2021).
Through the Department of Communities and Justice

The Department provides support for people experiencing or who have experienced domestic and family violence; people experiencing or at risk of homelessness and people in need of safe and affordable housing. 

DCJ offers several supports for people on low and very low incomes to rent in the private market and also managed established contracts with registered community housing providers to deliver social and affordable housing dwellings through the Social and Affordable Housing fund.
 

Hon Anthony John Roberts MP
Minister for Planning, and Minister for Homes (appointed December 2021)
Formerly Minister for Housing, Minister for Planning (Jan 2017 - Apr 2019)

Through the Department of Planning and Environment

The Department works to address housing supply, including affordable, social and Aboriginal housing. The Department has created Housing 2041, the State’s long-term housing strategy which outlines a 20-year vision for better housing outcomes.

The Department also manages the NSW Government’s social housing portfolio—the largest in Australia—which consists of more than 125,000 homes and is valued at more than $50 billion.

Victoria

Hon Danny Pearson MP
Minister for Housing (appointed June 2021)
Through the Department of Families, Fairness and Housing / Homes Victoria (as Housing Minister)

The Department of Families, Fairness and Housing (DFFH) is responsible for child protection and family services, prevention of family violence, housing and homelessness, disability, seniors, carers, multicultural affairs, LGBTIQ+ equality, veterans, women and youth.

Homes Victoria is a DFFH agency that manages and maintains the $31 billion portfolio of public housing dwellings, which are home to nearly 120,000 people, and works in partnership with community housing providers who own or manage community housing throughout Victoria.

Homes Victoria also works closely with the homelessness sector to reduce homelessness. Homes Victoria is managing the Big Housing Build; a $5.3 billion program to fast-track the construction and acquisition of more than 12,000 new social and affordable homes across metropolitan and regional Victoria.

Queensland

Hon Leeanne Enoch MP
Minister for Communities and Housing (Appointed November 2020)
Formerly Minister for Housing and Public Works Feb 2015 - Dec 2015
Through the Department of Communities, Housing and Digital Economy 

The Department provides housing and homelessness services. A significant achievement for the Department was the launch of the Queensland Housing and Homelessness Action Plan 2021–25. The plan will increase social housing supply across the state; support ongoing delivery of products and services launched under the Queensland Housing Strategy Action Plan 2017–2020; support responses for women and families experiencing domestic and family violence; and provide ongoing homelessness supports.

Western Australia

Hon John Carey MLA
Minister for Housing; Lands; Homelessness; Local Government (appointed March 2021)
Through the Department of Communities

The Department delivers disability services, child protection and family support, housing, and community and regional initiatives. Under the WA Housing Strategy 2020–2030 launched in October 2020, the Department continued to support more than 35,000 public housing properties. As part of delivering on All Paths Lead to a Home: Western Australia’s 10-Year Strategy on Homelessness 2020–2030, the Department spent $59 million on homelessness support services in 2020–21.

South Australia

Hon Nat Cook MP (appointed March 2022)
Minister for Human Services
Formerly Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Housing and Urban Development (Aug 2017 - Mar 2018)

Through the Department of Human Services/SA Housing Authority

The South Australian Housing Trust, trading as the SA Housing Authority, is responsible to the Minister for Human Services for the delivery of better housing opportunities. The Authority has launched the state’s new 10-year housing, homelessness and support strategy – Our Housing Future 2020-2030, which covers affordable housing, social housing, and homelessness services.

Hon Nick Champion MP (appointed March 2022)
Minister for Housing and Urban Development; Minister for Planning
Connects to Department for Infrastructure and Transport

The Department for Infrastructure and Transport (DIT) has diverse responsibilities for infrastructure planning and provision within South Australia, including management of public sector building assets and infrastructure. It provides building project planning, design and construction services, facilities management, and property related services to South Australian Government clients.

Tasmania

Hon Guy Barnett MP Minister for State Development, Construction and Housing (appointed April 2022)
Through the Department of Communities

Communities Tasmania has developed several key housing strategies: the Affordable Housing Strategy 2015-2025 and the Affordable Housing Action Plan 2019-2023 (Action Plan 2), through which the Tasmanian Government will deliver 1,500 new homes in the three years to the end of June 2023.

The Department also delivers all asset management functions, including asset planning, maintenance, capital upgrading, construction, procurement, project management, upgrade and construction initiatives. Other housing strategies include the Community Housing Growth Program (CHGP) to deliver new social and affordable homes and the Streets Ahead Incentive Program which assists households to purchase a home from Housing Tasmania. HomeShare assists households to buy their own home under a shared equity scheme.

Australian Capital Territory

Yvette Berry MLA
Deputy Chief Minister; Minister for Housing and Suburban Development (appointed October 2016)
Formerly Minister for Housing, Community Services and Social Inclusion (January 2015 – October 2016)

Rebecca Vassarotti MLA
Minister for Homelessness and Housing Services (appointed November 2020)
Through the Community Services Directorate/Housing ACT

The Community Services Directorate oversees homelessness policy; housing assistance policy; housing sector regulation; public housing asset management; public housing growth and renewal program; and social and affordable housing delivery through Housing ACT.

ACT Housing provides safe, affordable and appropriate housing that supports tenants to sustain their housing long-term including allocating housing to eligible applicants in community housing. ACT Housing has developed the strategy Growing and Renewing Public Housing 2019–2024.

The Directorate also provides funding and support to the homelessness and community housing service providers to address homelessness and provide sustainable long term housing options.

Northern Territory

Hon Selena Uibo MLA
Minister for Housing and Homelands (appointed May 2022)
Through the Department of Territory Families, Housing and Communities (TFHC)

The Department provides access to social and affordable housing and tenancy support services; provides housing and tenancies for eligible Northern Territory Government employees; delivers solutions to address homelessness and support those at risk of homelessness; and coordinates funding and provides strategic planning and policy advice for the delivery of new housing and related infrastructure in remote communities, homelands, outstations and town camps.

In addition, TFHC manages the $1.1 billion Our Community. Our Future. Our Homes remote housing investment package in partnership with the Department of Infrastructure, Planning and Logistics to deliver housing programs and infrastructure to support communities. The Northern Territory Government investment is supplemented by $550 million from the Australian Government’s five-year National Partnership Agreement for Remote Housing.

The Department also developed the NT Community Housing Growth Strategy 2022-32 to provide direction and growth of the sector for the next 10 years. It includes partnerships with the housing and homelessness sector, peak bodies, non-government organisations, disability services and land councils.

A renewed Housing Ministers’ Council? 

There is an opportunity to reconvene the Housing Ministers’ Council – a meeting of the Commonwealth Minister for Housing, state and territory ministers for housing, to reopen dialog on key housing issues. The Council was scrapped in 2013. Housing Ministers did continue to meet irregularly between 2013 and 2017, but have not met since May 2017 – well before most of the current Housing Ministers were appointed (the exceptions being Minister Berry in the ACT, and Minister Collins who was Housing Minister for part of 2013). Reviving this dialogue would be a useful step toward the development of a national housing and homelessness plan.