Jesuit Social Services was pleased to contribute a submission to the National Housing and Homelessness Plan – a 10-year Federal Government strategy to inform future housing and homelessness policy in Australia and help more Australians access safe and affordable housing.

The Plan comes as an unprecedented housing crisis grips Australia. The gulf between demand for and supply of public and community housing is widening rapidly. Tenants in the private market face skyrocketing rents and extremely low vacancy rates, as home ownership slips out of reach for many. The pressure of these issues is felt disproportionately by the people we work with – those experiencing disadvantage, who have complex needs, and who live on low incomes.  

Over our decades-long history working alongside people pushed to society’s margins, Jesuit Social Services has witnessed firsthand both the critical issues in Australia’s housing systems, and the profound impact safe and stable housing has on a person’s health, wellbeing and agency. 

Our submission to the Plan draws on this grounded experience and contemporary research, illustrating the importance of public housing stock and the disproportionate effect of housing insecurity on people with multiple and complex needs, and outlines evidence-based strategies to ensure people’s right to safe, sustainable and affordable housing is met. 

Summary of our recommendations:

  • Increase stock of social housing, specifically public housing, with specific minimum targets set to guarantee social housing as a reliable proportion of new builds and overall dwelling numbers. 
  • Enhance people’s capacity to meet housing costs and avoid homelessness, including by raising the rate of Jobseeker and related payments and benchmarking Commonwealth Rent Assistance to reflect actual rents paid. 
  • Increase investment in targeted, specialised and holistic housing and support programs for people with multiple and complex needs. 
  • Improve access to energy-efficient and climate-safe housing, including by retrofitting older social housing, ensuring energy-efficient design in new builds, legislating cooling requirements and implementing incentives for private landowners to retrofit older homes. 
  • Invest in place-based responses to addressing entrenched disadvantage, housing issues, and the effects of extreme weather. 

We commend the Federal Government for its timely national vision and acknowledge the decades of advocacy for such a coordinated approach from state and territory governments and the community sector. Our submission contributes to this important reform with practical recommendations that could improve housing and life outcomes for all, and particularly for those most marginalised.