Final report: Inquiry into homelessness in Australia

10 Aug 2021

The House of Representatives Standing Committee on Social Policy and Legal Affairs released their Final Report for the Inquiry into Homelessness in Australia. The report can be downloaded from this page.

The report makes 35 recommendations, including that the Australian Government, in consultation with state, territory and local governments, develop a 10 year national strategy on homelessness.

We were pleased to see that recommendation 25 recommends that the Australian Government establish a comprehensive strategy to address the financial insecurity of older women, including:

  • measures relating to superannuation and income support with a view to improving financial outcomes for women; and
  • the need for new data collection and reporting measures, including new national data sets, to inform polices and strategies targeted at older women.

The report fell short of calling for an urgent and significant investment in social housing, which is desperately  needed to meet the current demand and end homelessness for many families and individuals who just need an affordable, appropriate and permanent place to live.

Other recommendations in the report include:

  •  data collection for better policy development across a number of areas
  • a review of Commonwealth Rental Assistance,
  • funding emergency accommodation for perpetrators of such violence, to prevent victim-survivors from having to leave their homes,

The report recommends that the Australian Government work with state and territory governments to:

  •  ensure the availability of social housing and transitional, crisis and emergency accommodationfor people with diverse needs, such as older people, people living with disability, people from CALD backgrounds and Indigenous Australians.
  • implement strategies to address the risk of exiting into homelessness from state institutions, including hospitals, mental health facilities, correctional institutions and out-of-home-care, including developing a nationally consistent approach to discharge planning and a national definition of ‘no exit into homelessness’
  • measures to encourage social housing providers to accept tenants with high needs and provide adequate support to minimise re-entry of high needs tenants into homelessness
  • expand circumstances for people on bridging visas to access social and emergency housing and homelessness services
  • develop a more integrated ‘place-based’ approach to homelessness prevention and early intervention
  • incorporate the principles of Housing First particularly for priority groups
  • ensure the appropriate allocation of social and affordable housing stock to meet the needs of individuals and families at different life stages and accommodate different household family structures;
    • eg amending local government restrictions on secondary dwellings (‘granny flats’); and
    • new measures to encourage the use of secondary dwellings to free up primary dwellings for larger families

Recommendation 31 seeks to increase the supply of affordable housing when land is rezoned for residential development, through the introduction and harmonisation of inclusionary planning approaches across Australia and recommendation 32 encourages further private-sector investment in social and affordable housing, including superannuation funds, via NHFIC.