Progress on housing policy made at the National Housing Conference 2017

The conference program examined the full spectrum of Australia's housing policy debate

5 Dec 2017

The 2017 National Housing Conference wrapped up last Friday with the over 1100 delegates—researchers, politicians, developers, funders, not-for-profits and policymakers—all sharing ideas and progressing Australia's housing system forward.

The Conference critically assessed the opportunities and concerns for Australia as the nation faces interconnected crises around housing affordability, urban planning and homelessness.

For the first time there was no longer a pre-occupation with establishing the size and nature of Australia’s housing affordability crisis. Instead, the Conference focussed on how to address it...

The comprehensive program brought together leading researchers, practitioners and policymakers for a cross-sector conversation, and supported Australia’s ‘full spectrum’ housing policy debate; from homelessness, through social and affordable housing, responses to the housing market, land supply, land use planning and city deals, as well as Indigenous housing and domestic and family violence.

The conference featured almost 40 sessions which critically examined these topics. While every session over the three days had important issues to bring to the conversation, some sessions drew particular interest from delegates and the media.

The opening day saw delegates appreciate the international insight of Evan Siddall, CEO of the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, as he shared lessons learned creating Canada's newly announced National Housing Strategy, which has promised $40 billion over 10 years for affordable housing solutions.

Later that afternoon, award-winning journalist George Megalogenis mapped out Australia’s ever-changing political landscape and identified opportunities for policymakers to seize and deliver politically contentious housing reform.

Delegates heard from more international perspectives on the Conference’s second day, as Ms Gail Gilman, Chief Executive Officer of Community Housing Partnership in San Francisco (USA), enlightened the audience on how the US is approaching homelessness support. Ms. Gilman spoke of shifting success measurements and outcomes in supportive housing, and ultimately moving towards a housing equity framework.

From the UK, Mr Piers Williamson, Chief Executive of The Housing Finance Corporation, featured on a panel of experts examining what Australia needs to do to optimise the new National Housing Finance and Investment Corporation (NHFIC) so as to successfully jump-start the supply of more affordable housing.

The third day of the conference was marked by major announcements by The Hon Michael Sukkar MP, Assistant Minister to the Treasurer. He announced key design features of the new NHFIC; including that it will have an independent Board with responsibility for making all investment decisions; all registered community housing providers will be able to apply to the affordable housing bond aggregator for finance; and the Commonwealth will guarantee the issued bonds.

The Hon Angus Taylor provided the latest updates on the The Federal Government's City Deals agenda, and the panel discussion that followed examined what role these City Deals can play in creating affordable housing in our established and emerging cities.

This Conference was the last for Dr Ian Winter, the retiring Executive Director of AHURI.

‘I’ve been involved in all 10 National Housing Conferences to date and this one marked significant progress in our national housing policy conversation,’ said Dr Winter.

‘For the first time there was no longer a pre-occupation with establishing the size and nature of Australia’s housing affordability crisis. Instead, the Conference focussed on how to address it; marked by Minister Sukkar’s announcement of a Federal Government guarantee for the new National Housing Finance Investment Corporation.’

Presentation slides and recordings from the conference are available.

Video recordings from the plenary sessions are available, including the keynote address from Minister Sukkar.

The next National Housing Conference will be held at the Darwin Convention Centre, Wednesday 28 August to Friday 30 August in 2019.