Individualised and market-based assistance: a critical appraisal of contemporary Australian housing policymaking

Date 12:00 PM 12 November 2015 - 13:00 PM 12 November 2015
Location Father Tucker's Room, Brotherhood of St Laurence, 67 Brunswick Street, Fitzroy.

Presenter: Professor Keith Jacobs, University of Tasmania


Over the past two decades, Australian policymakers have pursued reforms directed towards more individualised forms of housing assistance through market based mechanisms and flexible forms of service delivery. Some of the initiatives include: the extension of government rental assistance; homeownership support programs; privatisation and stock transfer of public housing, and client based services for the homeless. 

In this paper, which draws from a recent research project, I adopt a critical appraisal of these reforms by seeking to contextualise them in the wider setting of neoliberal ideology. My key argument is that while these reforms are likely to create opportunities for the commercial sector to make profits, they will have an adverse impact for welfare service providers and do little to assist low-income households. Until Australian policymakers embrace more collective forms of intervention that address social inequality, the prospects for the disadvantaged will remain bleak.

I conclude the paper by asking how we might advance a more progressive reform agenda that counters the insidious effects of neoliberal ideology.

About the presenter

Prior coming to Tasmania, Professor Keith Jacobs worked as a lecturer in housing studies at the University of Westminster, London. He has published widely on urban policy issues, and is the author of The Dynamics of Local Housing Policy published by Ashgate Press (1999) and Social Constructionism in Housing Research (2004) edited with Jim Kemeny and Tony Manzi (Ashgate Press).

Keith established the Housing and Community Research Unit (HACRU) and was chief investigator on a number of Australian Housing and Urban Research Institute (AHURI) funded research projects. 

Keith's most recent books include: a monograph – Experience and Representation: Contemporary Perspectives on Australian Migration (Ashgate Press, 2011) and an edited collection (with Jeff Malpas) – Between the Ocean and the Outback: Cosmopolitanism in Contemporary Australia (UWA Publishing 2011). He is the recipient of an Australian Research Council Future Fellowship award (2012–2016) to undertake a sociological investigation of key housing problems in contemporary Australia.

Keith is a member of the editorial board for the journal Housing Studies' and the international advisory boards of 'Housing, Theory and Society' and 'International Journal of Housing Policy'. 

Download the presentation » (PDF file, 238.72 KB)


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