Sustainability Summit

Social and affordable housing in Australia – where do we go from here?

The continuing issue of lack of affordable housing has been recognised as one of the main sources of inequality in Australia and was one of the factors that prompted the federal government to announce their commitment to build 1 million new affordable homes in the recent mini budget. Providing access to homes to those who need it most is seen as an essential form of social infrastructure, but one that is still sorely underfunded, and has been so for many years. Australia has a significant and growing crisis in social and affordable housing after decades of under-investment by federal and state governments.

In 2018, the Australian Bureau of Statistics estimated that there were 116,000 homeless people in Australia at any given time spread over our cities, suburbs, and regional areas. Women over 55 years of age were the fastest growing cohort. Of the growing homeless people, 17% comprised children under 12 years of age and 10% comprised teenagers between 12 and 18 years of age. But while social and affordable housing has now received a boost, it doesn’t come cheap, while at the same time, encouraging investment in affordable housing doesn’t come be easy for many governments.

But something must be done, and fast so this problem doesn’t slip out of the government’s hands for good. The question is what?

Learning Outcomes

At the end of this presentation, you should be able to:

  • Outline the scale of the problem of homelessness in Australia and how it has evolved over recent decades.
  • Explain the role that the provision of social and affordable housing can play in addressing this problem.
  • Identify the obstacles to providing social and affordable housing in the Australian context.
  • Outline the ways that these obstacles to expanding social and affordable housing can potentially be overcome.

(Competency Codes: PC 3, PC 26, PC 28, PC 29, PC 34)

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Session Information

View the 2023 Sustainability Summit on demand.


David Kaunitz

Kaunitz Yeung Architecture


Ali Galbraith



Lee Hillam

Dunn & Hillam Architects


Professor Hal Pawson

University of New South Wales


Allison Stout



Maria Yanez

Nightingale Housing