National Shelter is Australia’s peak housing advocacy organisation.
We are dedicated to advocating for a fairer, more just housing system, particularly for low-income Australian households. We aim to make housing more accessible, affordable, appropriate, safe and secure for everyone.
Shelter members in each state and territory contribute to our research, policy development and advocacy. Our federation of members and national member organisations represent a wide range of non-government housing organisations and individuals.
We see Australia as facing four key housing challenges in 2013:
Australia’s housing and homelessness peaks - from National Shelter, Community Housing Federation of Australia and Homelessness Australia - have issued a joint statement calling on the Abbott Government to make good on their promise to be more consultative by restoring funding to the peak bodies who provide a voice for vulnerable Australians.
28 January 2015
Housing policy peak National Shelter has called on the government to immediately rethink its approach to housing assistance in the wake of damning findings of the Productivity Commission Report on Government Services (ROGS).
“The Report clearly demonstrates that the government’s approach has failed struggling Australian households who are simply unable to house themselves affordably,” Mr Pisarski said.
The Report indicates that housing stress now impacts 40.7% of low income renting households (those in the bottom 40%), up more than 5% in the past 7 years.
“Rental inflation has outstripped increases in Commonwealth Rent Assistance (CRA), leaving low income renters further and further behind each year.
“Everyone looks at movements in-house prices but compared to renters, owners and purchasers are propped up by tax breaks, while the value of CRA reduces.”
“The Report also demonstrates the failure of tax arrangements to support rental investment because they don't add supply, just pit investors against purchasers and keep too many in rental stress.”
“Markets by themselves fail the poor who need higher CRA and greater investment in affordable housing.”
“Dumping The National Rental Affordability Scheme, which added affordable rental supply by leveraging modest government investment to promote private and institutional investment, shows the Abbott Government is clueless on housing affordability.” Mr Pisarski said.
National Shelter is very concerned that recent moves by the Government, including withdrawing funding from policy peaks and hints about the Federalism process, signal a move away from Federal Government involvement in housing and homelessness.
“We’re very concerned that the Federal Government might also abandon the National Partnership on Homelessness,” Mr Pisarski added.
“Just when we need additional investment, they withdraw it and flag a cut and run from any responsibility for helping to house those most in need, it’s disgraceful behaviour.”
The ROGS also show public housing under stress with high overcrowding, especially among Indigenous households, and higher rates of repeat homelessness.
“Under the Rudd and Gillard governments there was a genuine commitment to help the homeless and create new affordable housing but this government has turned its back and will likely cut and run from housing and homelessness programs.” Mr Pisarski concluded.
The Federal government has been the principal funder of housing programs for 70 years but just before Christmas axed their housing and homeless program signalling a withdrawal from a 70 year partnership with the states.
Australia is recognised as having a massive under supply of housing for low income households and state housing authorities have been losing properties despite new spending.
It’s not going to be a good Christmas for housing and homelessness peak bodies including the Community Housing Federation of Australia (CHFA), Homelessness Australia and National Shelter. All three of these peak bodies received news at the beginning of this Christmas week that they would not be funded beyond 30 June 2015.
But this news is a blow beyond undermining Christmas festivities for the people directly involved in these organisations. These organisations provided a voice in Canberra for the challenges faced in securing affordable housing and keeping a roof over the heads of our most vulnerable citizens.
Without strong national peak bodies, government decision makers will be free to ignore housing and homelessness, leaving one of the biggest welfare issues: whether families can get and keep a home, out in the cold.
As Scott Morrison takes the baton on the Social Services ministry, the Commonwealth has flagged a move away from funding housing and homelessness.
In his last act at DSS Minister Andrews axed funding from research and peak bodies in the area.
On the eve of Christmas the Federal Government has tried to silence the voices of the vulnerable by reneging on contracts with peak bodies including National Shelter, the Community Housing Federation of Australia and Homelessness Australia.
national Shelter's Anti-poverty week message: reform housing system or face new wave of poverty
The report of the National Shelter consultation on the strengths and weaknesses of the National Affordable Housing Agreement (NAHA) and the report prepared by Shere consulting on the financial impact of asset transfers to community housing organisations are now available on-line.
In this article Adrian looks at the White Paper on the federation and asks whether it's time to chage the direction of funding and responsibilities for housing between the Commonwealth and the states.
Hear Shelter EO Adian Pisarski on the regular radio program hosted by Shelter SA, 'Housing Matters'. Adrian's just discussed the Federal Budget here; and listen to an earlier interview by following this link.
There's plenty of other housing issues covered too on this on-line link. - Adrian will be back on soon too.
The first budget of the Coalition government has abolished the only program aimed at addressing affordable housing (NRAS), has limited funding for homelessness under the National Partnership Agreement on Homelessness to the one year already announced, and with it's savage cuts to income support for young people, pensioners and most low-income households will inevitably throw many more into housing poverty and homelssness. See the our Budget 2014 media release for a full response.
Shelter has made a comprehensive submission to the Senate inquiry into affordable housing.
It is based on our policy platform, Meeting Australia’s Housing Challenges developed over a number of years in consultation with our members across the country, as well as more recent consultations we’ve conducted around the National Affordable Housing Agreement. It has two parts: Australia’s Housing Challenges is our analysis of the current Australian housing system; and the second part responds specifically to the terms of reference.
The inquiry into affordable housing was referred to the Senate Economics References Committee on 12 December, 2013. It's due to report by 26 June 2014. the Senate referred anfor inquiry and report.
National Shelter has entered a new phase with its first full-time executive officer for 18 years. The new EO is Adrian Pisarski.Adrian is not at all new to National Shelter or to housing policy. He has been the Chairperson of National Shelter for the past nine years and executive officer of Queensland Shelter for 11 years. Adrian was also National Shelter’s representative on the National Affordable Housing Summit Group that shaped the policy proposals that later became NRAS. He has been a board member and Deputy-president of ACOSS for the past six years.But while this work for Shelter has been extensive, the Chair’s role has been largely voluntary. Shelter’s work has been undertaken mainly on a project basis with contractors, consultants or projects undertaken jointly with State or Territory Shelters.With a new government, it will be a new environment for housing policy. The appointment of Adrian to continue the work of National Shelter means it will be well placed to respond.
At its 13 December meeting COAG agreed that its Council system should be streamlined and refocussed on COAG’s priorities over the next 12–18 months. The current 22 COAG Councils will be replaced by only eight. These two councils that oversaw housing were responsible for “an integrated approach to the related policy areas of housing supply, social and affordable housing and homelessness… drive an effective national response to reducing homelessness in Australia, and coordinate housing policy reform”, including overseeing the NAHA and the National Partnership Agreement on Homelessness. It’s unclear how these goals will be pursued now.
The Government has announced that the National Housing Supply Council has been abolished. This is a serious concern, since it provided vital information for the industry as well as government about the housing supply gap in Australia and the gap in affordable housing. Its functions are to be managed within existing departmental resources – in this case Treasury.
In his first major speech the Minister for Social Services, Kevin Andrews, announced that The Prime Minister’s Council on Homeless would be wound back. The government has since announced that its functions will be rolled into the Social Services Ministerial Advisory Council.
National Shelter calls for the major parties to commit to action on housing affordability. In our media release we express alarm at the lack of announcement by either Labor or the Coaolition in the election campaign.
In our submission on the Exposure Draft Social Security Legislation Amendment (Public Housing Tenants’ Support) Bill 2013, we express our lack of support for the introduction to the Housing Payment Deduction Scheme. We think that the scheme unnecessarily and unfairly targets a very small proportion of households, and we recommend that all levels of government fund further preventative and capacity-building measures so that households are much less likely to have rental arrears. See our submission.
We have updated our quick guide to national housing data, the Housing Australia factsheet.
In a media release issued on 28 March 2013, we welcomed the Commonwealth, state and territory governments’ commitment to ending homelessness (regarding 2013–14 funding under the National Partnership on Homelessness) and the announcement of a Round 5 of incentives under the National Rental Affordability Scheme.
On 30 October 2012, on the eve of the National Housing Conference, National Shelter launched its new policy priorities statement, 'Meeting housing challenges'. In a media release issued to mark the launch, National Shelter called on the federal government to develop a national housing strategy. Read the final summary or the draft long version of the policy priorities statement.
Sick of housing jargon? See our housing terms factsheet.
We support Australians For Affordable Housing — a coalition of national housing, welfare and community sector organisations formed to highlight the problem of housing affordability in Australia — and we urge you to support their campaign.