Research and industry experts discuss 'Is social housing infrastructure?'

Speakers and delegates participated in a robust discussion in Melbourne

13 February 2019

Associate Prof Julie Lawson, RMIT University

Over 160 delegates heard from research and industry experts examining the question ‘Is social housing infrastructure?' in the first edition of the newly initiated AHURI Discussion Series, held in Melbourne on Monday afternoon 11 February 2019.

The presentation slides and audio recordings from the event are available on the AHURI website.

The event featured Associate Professor Julie Lawson from RMIT University presenting the key findings and discussion points from her most recent AHURI research. She highlighted that the lack of social housing was leading to social inequality and a growth in homelessness, which has a huge cost to both individuals and the community.

Dr Jonathan Spear, Infrastructure Victoria

‘Social housing is essential infrastructure that warrants long-term investment,’ said Prof Lawson. ‘At the end of the day government is responsible.’

The Discussion Series also gathered insights from an expert panel including Mr Stephen Anthony, Industry Super Australia; Ms Haleh Homaei, HousingFirst; Mr Nick Foa, Victorian Department of Health and Human Services; and Dr Jonathan Spear, Infrastructure Victoria.

Dr Spear said that in 2016 Infrastructure Victoria had listed investing in social housing as their third highest priority, and outlined Infrastructure Victoria’s strategy Need Seven to ‘Provide better access to housing for the most vulnerable Victorians’. Infrastructure Victoria identified that, at the very least, Victoria needs to build 30,000 public housing and affordable housing dwellings over the next 10 years.

‘We’re so far behind the 30,000 number we need to think about housing policy, not the numbers. Housing policy has to be achievable’, Dr Spear said.

Mr Anthony said the large superannuation funds had been looking a social housing funding for the last two years and felt there is enough housing subsidy being provided by the three levels of government for large long-term institutional investors to commit to social housing funding, but that the funding was disparate.

A range of questions to the panel from the audience further explored the various models for financing, funding and supplying of social housing as infrastructure.

L-R: Mr Nick Foa, DHHS Victoria; Mr Stephen Anthony, Industry Super Australia; Ms Haleh Homaei, HousingFirst; Dr Jonathan Spear, Infrastructure Victoria; Associate Prof Julie Lawson, RMIT; Dr Michael Fotheringham, AHURI.

A second AHURI Discussion Series will examine this topic in Brisbane at the Queensland Museum on Tuesday 2 April 2019 and will further explore possible scenarios to finance, fund and supply greater social housing in Queensland and Australia. For more information, and to register, visit the event page on the AHURI website.