Housing and the importance of engagement
The National Housing and Homelessness Plan is under development.
The Department of Social Services has released a brief summary of the themes that came out of our recent consultations, and we’re excited to see what comes next.
The Queensland Government has also just released its housing plan, the ‘Homes for Queenslanders Plan’. We’re wondering if there’s anything to read into the title… but from the main elements announced there’s a very strong focus on prioritising community when it comes to housing that’s more affordable and available. That’s great to see.
After having the opportunity to speak with hundreds of people in the housing and community sectors around the country, we know how important both the actions from states and having a coordinated national plan will be to all Australians. It was often the conversations with those most impacted—people directly experiencing housing insecurity—that drove home the need for a national, coordinated agenda.
There’s no quick or simple fix to an issue that’s so complex and requires a major system change. And the impacts (good and bad) are literally on everybody’s doorstep.
We’ll be looking for future opportunities to contribute to housing policy and implementation. Particularly to ensure people in the community have their voices heard on what the challenges are really like, and what solutions they might need at a local level.
You’ll read in the summary consultation report that most people acknowledge we need more housing and different types of housing. But there’s also the challenge of making sure housing is delivered equitably. Tenant rights and tackling discrimination in housing were very prominent issues raised by community members.
Here are 3 key things we wanted to share about this important engagement project.
1. Involve people with lived experience.
We really valued the information that came from talking with people who have or are experiencing homelessness and housing insecurity. They each have their own unique stories to share, but by knowing what their own barriers were, they could articulate what changes are most needed. We need to keep listening to them as they’re best placed to validate what we understand is happening in communities.
This required getting out to where people are already meeting, rather than asking them to come to us. To hear these stories, we worked with partners and local organisations to talk with people in environments they’d be comfortable in. This included yarning circles with First Nations people and communities. Taking the time to work through local partners is something we’ll keep advocating to do in our community engagement.
2. Young people have great solutions.
The consultations included a dedicated youth forum held in Hobart, Tasmania. We asked participants to share their housing journeys and think about what could be done to improve things. Despite acknowledging many challenges, young people were able to describe a vision for housing where ‘everyone has the right to housing and be helped to get housing without facing discrimination or feeling unsafe’. They want ‘sustainable and safe neighbourhoods, where communities are connected and cared for’ and they had great ideas for how this could be done.
Creating a dedicated space for young people to share their hopes and ideas was an important aspect of the consultations. While experts and people who have been in the system a longer time can draw on their experience, young people are focused on what the future looks for them, and can help to set priorities for future policy.
3. Government + Community + Private partnerships.
When we first established The Social Deck, one of our big drivers was how we could better support the intersections between government (all levels), the community sector and industry to create positive impacts in community. We think housing solutions are going to be a really important area for this. While lots of people said issues are driven by private investment or industries, there’s some great examples of partnerships involving industries and the private sector that we’re keen to explore and understand even further.
We’ll share more about each of these in some upcoming blogs and papers, so subscribe to our newsletter for future insights.