Home for Good: Communities for Wellbeing

This policy brief is part of our Home for Good series. You can find more about the Home for Good project here. You can read the second policy brief in the series – Improving the Private Rental Market for Older Australians – here. You can read the third policy brief in the series – Social Housing for an Ageing Population – here.

Introduction

This series of Home for Good policy briefs, by Per Capita’s Centre for Applied Policy in Positive Ageing (CAPPA) in partnership with The Australian Centre for Social Innovation (TACSI), applies findings from more than ten years of combined research in ageing, housing and inequality to inform housing policy recommendations for an ageing Australia.

Our aim is to reimagine Australia’s housing paradigm using a systems’ lens, exploring the interdependence of government housing policies, market forces, housing sector programs, and consumer demand in the context of a good home in older age. This approach helps us to identify points in Australia’s housing continuum where innovation and policy change might be targeted to drive improved outcomes for older people both in housing and the community more broadly.

In our first policy brief, we introduced TACSI’s ‘three critical functions’ of a good home in older age. These ‘three critical functions’, co-designed over five years with older Australians, express what a ‘good home’ means to older people:

Asset: Rather than financial equity, the real asset in relation to housing is security of tenure, enabling choice and control of your living circumstances and how you live your life.

Gateway: Good homes connect us to others and to our community, which is critical to reducing loneliness and isolation.

Expression: Home is where we express and evolve our identity. Having control over our space and being able to invest in ‘place’ enables us to form stronger and more congruent identities.

In our second policy brief, we identified how Australia’s private rental market often fails to provide these three critical functions of home for older people and explored innovative ways in which it could change or adapt to better serve Australia’s ageing population. We recommended policies to improve accessibility, governance, and quality in rental housing, to better meet the needs of all renters. We proposed:

  • Institutional investment in universally designed, build-to-rent housing;
  • A private landlord licensing scheme; and
  • A brokerage role for local councils.

In our third policy brief, we turned our attention to Australia’s social housing sector. We explored the ways in which public and community housing might better meet the three critical functions of home through innovation in design and tenant empowerment. We explored ways to increase the supply of social leases, calling for:

  • A stimulus program of public housing construction and thermal refits;
  • A vacant property strategy

We also advocated for tenants of social housing to have greater rights through legislation mandating:

  • A duty to involve social tenants in decisions relating to their housing;
  • A right for social tenants to manage their housing collectively, including self-governance of funding, housing stewardship, and decision-making.

In this fourth Home for Good policy brief, we explore ways to build ‘communities for wellbeing’. By this, we mean the ways in which good housing outcomes extend beyond individual housing circumstances to the context of neighbourhood and broader community.

Expanding upon insights from Per Capita and TACSI research explored earlier in this series, we examine the role of urban planning systems, policies, and processes, and the ways in which these can act as barriers to ageing well. We look at the role of the local community within a broader policy framework of housing in relation to Australia’s ageing population, recognising the critical importance of place in good housing outcomes and the inseparability of housing and care as we age.

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