Federal Govt rules out national strategy on homelessness

The Federal Government has rejected advice that it develop and implement a national homelessness strategy with state, territory, and local governments.

The recommendation was one of 35 contained in the final report into homelessness in Australia conducted by the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Social Policy and Legal Affairs.

In its response to the report published last week, the Government said it did not support a national strategy.

“The National Housing and Homelessness Agreement (NHHA) is the current Australian Government mechanism to deliver housing and homelessness funding to states [and enables] localised approaches to place-based issues.”

“This allows for flexible and targeted responses to better address homelessness when compared to one-size-fits-all centralised strategies.”

The Australian Local Government Association’s (ALGA) submission to the inquiry noted local governments’ “important role” in facilitating and supporting measures to address homeless within and with their communities.

Greater coordination across all three levels of government was needed, ALGA said – and it recommended:

  • The National Cabinet Reform Committee on Housing prioritise the development of a national affordable housing strategy; and
  • That local government’s role in housing be acknowledged, including by providing appropriate funding to facilitate innovative partnership models for housing.

Another recommendation from the parliamentary inquiry – that the Australian Government, in consultation with state, territory, and local governments, seek to increase affordable housing supply when land is rezoned for residential development, through the introduction and harmonisation of inclusionary planning approaches across Australia – was “noted”.

“Planning and zoning reform and initiatives are a housing priority policy area which should be incorporated into states’ housing strategies where appropriate to their needs,” the Government’s response said.

“Consistent with this, several states are implementing inclusionary zoning in their jurisdictions.”

In related news, the National Housing Finance and Investment Corporation (NHFIC) has released new research identifying “supply shortfalls that could over time exacerbate affordability problems”.

NHFIC chief executive Nathan Dal Bon said State of the Nation’s Housing 2021-22  provides “on-the-ground insights” to understand Australia’s housing supply and affordability trends in the coming decade.