A new report published by the Regional Australia Institute has highlighted policy neglect surrounding rural and regional Australia, particularly in housing.
Produced as part of RAI’s Intergovernmental Shared Inquiry Program ‘Building the Good Life: Foundations of Regional Housing’ found that ‘one size fits all’ policy approaches have resulted in a worsening of the housing issues facing rural and regional Australia.
Housing markets across 396 local government areas were examined for the new report. Despite no geographic variables being included in the analysis, once mapped six clusters were clearly evident, with five of them predominantly rural and regional.
The six groupings identified are stalled, volatile, stable, coastal, growth zone and most expensive. Examples highlighted in WA include the Katanning LGA as a ‘stalled’ market and Carnarvon as ‘volatile’.
RAI CEO Liz Ritchie says understanding the six new markets identified in the report will help deliver more affordable and appropriate homes.
“Failure to recognise the distinct regional housing markets in Australia and respond accordingly will see the current pressures continue to escalate.
Adhering to a ‘one-size-fits-all’ plan could see locals priced out of the market, regional economic growth constrained, a further tightening of the rental market, and the most vulnerable in our community bearing the brunt of the housing challenge,” Liz Ritchie said.
Different policy responses are suggested in the report under each grouping, including options such:
- Aggregating demand across several LGAs to create sufficient scale in stalled areas.
- Using modular in areas where labour is constrained in stalled areas.
- Incentivising housing diversity (including the need for appropriate and affordable housing for seniors).
- The important role community housing providers play in different areas.
- Accessing National Housing Finance and Investment Corporation (NHFIC) programs particularly in stable, coastal and growth areas.
- Opportunities arising from the growing ‘social impact’ sub-class of investors to finance construction of targeted key-worker housing.
Overarching suggestions are for more responsive and diverse housing supply in regional areas as well as coordinated long-term planning to provide more consistent demand for land development and construction, thereby ensuring availability of skilled labour and market confidence.
The multi-stage project was undertaken by a team at the University of South Australia for the RAI’s Intergovernmental Shared Inquiry Program in 2021-22 led by Professor Andrew Beer, a leading expert on housing in Australia. The Shared Inquiry Program is funded and directed by a group of Commonwealth, State and Territory governments.
To view more regional reports or to be involved in Shelter WA’s Regional Engagement Project, visit our website for more information.