Policy Focus – Planner shortage likely to exacerbate national housing crisis

A new State of the Profession Report by the Planning Institute of Australia has confirmed one of the key findings of ALGA’s 2022 Jobs and Skills Survey: that Australia’s 537 councils urgently need more qualified planners.

This is expected to become a bigger issue, especially for local government following the recent passing of the Federal Government’s Housing Australia Future Fund legislation, which includes ambitious housing targets for the nation.

The PIA report found 232 local government areas in Australia had no planners on staff – which equates to 43 per cent of all local government areas.

ALGA’s recent local government workforce survey also showed more than nine out of 10 councils are facing jobs and skills shortages, with the biggest shortages for planners and engineers. This is a major issue when councils are looking to plan and support more affordable housing in local communities and facilitate supporting infrastructure.

At the National Cabinet meeting in August 2023, which focused on housing affordability, there was agreement by Federal and State/Territory Governments to adequately resource built environmental professionals, including planners, in local government.

It’s vital that communities continue to have a say in development in their local areas, especially as better housing and planning outcomes are achieved when decisions are made locally.

ALGA has consistently called on the Federal Government for more untied funding – through Financial Assistance Grants – that would support councils to plan and upskill their workforce. There also needs to be more support for training, recruitment and retention as well as funding for apprenticeships, cadetships and traineeships.

Local government has historically been a skills incubator for the nation, and many skilled workers in a diverse range of industries commenced their employment journey and career within a local council.

ALGA continues to highlight to the Government that investing in councils is good for improving national productivity and is a smart decision for the future. Having more affordable housing will improve local productivity, for example by enabling key workers to live close to employment.

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