This report presents the outcomes of an on-line survey of local governments across Australia into their attitudes, programs, policies and actions with respect to housing. The survey was undertaken as part of a three-year Australian Research Council Linkage project (LP150100160), in which a number of local governments and their representatives are active participants.
Just over 200 – or approximately 40 per cent – of local governments responded to the survey, with returns coming from all Australian states and the Northern Territory, and from metropolitan, rural and remote councils. This extensive data collection has enabled the detailed presentation of data according to location and settlement type.
Across Australia, responses varied by State and Territory, with some states having specific policies or legislation that clearly establish local government’s roles and responsibilities with respect to housing and its provision.
The outcomes of the survey challenge many preconceptions around the role of local government and housing in the 21st Century. Our work finds that many local governments take an active interest in housing questions, including a keen focus on housing affordability. Other areas of concern include the regulation of informal housing tenancies – Airbnb, Stayz, etc. – as well as the effective functioning of the planning system, homelessness, urban regeneration and environmental sustainability.
We found that a majority of respondent councils agreed that local government has a role in responding to housing concerns but often struggled to make an impact because of a lack of leadership from the state and federal Australian governments. The respondents saw themselves working in partnership with others, making an important contribution to a whole-of-government effort to address housing affordability, homelessness et cetera. Local governments also worked with nongovernment organisations including homelessness service providers, a range of community groups and not-for-profit housing associations.