A report released on 14 October 2012 by the Australian Council of Social Service to mark Anti-Poverty Week has found that in 2010, after taking account of housing costs, 12.8% of Australians live in poverty: that is, one in eight people were living at or below the poverty line in 2010. The ‘Poverty in Australia’ report found that the overall risk of poverty is higher in New South Wales and Tasmania than in the other states — this may reflect higher housing costs, weaker employment opportunities, and/or the different age profiles of different states. The report also found that the risk of poverty is generally greater outside capital cities (in part due to higher unemployment in regional Australia) — but there are exceptions in New South Wales and Western Australia (where very high housing costs in the capital cities have increased the risk of poverty). Read the ACOSS report.
Meeting housing needs: news
On 24 September 2012, the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare issued its latest report on data from specialist homelessness services. In the March quarter 2012, 18,594 people were accommodated by homelessness services across Australia on average every night, and domestic and family violence was the most common main reason for seeking assistance (in 24% of cases). Read the AIHW report.
On September 11, the Australian Bureau of Statistics issued revised estimates of the levels of homelessness based on 2001 and 2006 census data: 95,314 homeless people in Australia in 2001, and 89,728 homeless people in Australia in 2006. The ABS has stated that the decline in the number of people living in boarding houses drove the overall decline in homelessness between 2001 and 2006. The ABS has stated the some key population groups — young people, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, and people fleeing domestic and/or family violence — are underestimated in estimates of homelessness using census data. The estimates of homelessness based on the 2011 census data will be released in November 2012. See the ABS report on estimating homelessness for 2001 and 2006.
On August 30, the Housing Supply and Affordability Reform Working Party released a report on strategies to stimulate housing supply — covering issues such as land supply, infrastructure cost recovery, and land-use planning and approval processes. The report acknowledged, however, that reducing barriers to housing supply will not necessarily reduce the housing affordability problems faced by households on lower incomes. Regarding the First Home Owner Grant, the report noted that in its current form and in a supply-constrained environment, the grant ‘may not be the most cost-effective way of improving housing supply and affordability in the longer term’; it recommended that ‘consideration [be] given to better targeting the grant or even phasing out the grant completely’. The Council of Australian Governments agreed to the report’s recommendations out-of-session in July 2012. Read the Housing supply and affordability reform report.
On September 4, the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) released a report on their statistical definition of homelessness. This report states that a person is considered homeless if they do not have suitable accommodation alternatives, and their current living arrangement:
- is in a dwelling that is inadequate; or
- has no tenure, or if their initial tenure is short and not extendable; or
- does not allow them to have control of, and access to space for social relations.
The new definition has been developed following a review of the ‘cultural definition of homelessness’ which was formulated by Chris Chamberlain and David MacKenzie, and applied in their Counting the homeless reports based on Census of Population and Housing data from 2001 and 2006. Read the ABS report on the statistical definition of homelessness.