Regional housing identified as critical to economic development | The Land

As I write, my thoughts are with the people of the flood-affected areas of Queensland and NSW as they try to secure temporary accommodation in areas that are already struggled with accommodation shortages.

It has been reported that the SES has assessed more than 3,600 homes across the Northern Rivers as uninhabitable and a further 5,500 severely damaged.

Sadly the latest report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change indicates that adverse climate related events such as the recent floods and the 2019-20 bushfires are going to become more common, adding further complexity to regional housing accessibility.

Housing affordability in Metropolitan areas, flexible work practices and changing lifestyle priorities, stimulated by the Pandemic, resulted in 43,000 Australians moving to the regions in 2020.

This is the biggest shift to the regions since the ABS began reporting internal migration in 2001 and it contributed to a 6.9 per cent increase in regional house prices in that same year, compared with only 2pc in the capital cities.

The report “Regional Strengths and Infrastructure Gaps”, released by Infrastructure Australia in March 2022 adds weight to a growing list of Commonwealth and state reports that identify the lack of accessible regional housing as adversely impacting on the economic and social wellbeing of regional Australia. The availability, diversity and affordability of housing is identified in this report as the highest of five priorities to be addressed if we are to enhance the economic development of regional Australia.

Also, a September 2021 NSW Government Regional Housing Forum report identified and recommended the implementation of five strategies and eight principles to guide NSW Government in increasing the availability of diverse housing and better monitor demand and policy outcomes.

In other news:

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In its response in February 2022, the NSW Government announced $ 30 million in funding to 21 regional Councils experiencing the highest population growth. In his announcement, Minister for Planning Anthony Roberts said: “Housing issues are widespread and complex, so there isn’t a quick fix, but we aren’t wasting any time.”

At the 2020 CWA of NSW and Domestic Violence NSW Roundtable, participants highlighted the lack of accessible, affordable and diverse housing in regional NSW as a major impediment to supporting women and children experiencing domestic violence.

At the time of the Roundtable a Refuge in the NSW regional center had 50 people on the waiting list for five rooms. This means that women stay with or return to a violent partner because they do not have anywhere safe to go.

They don’t have the luxury of waiting for a response even if governments “aren’t wasting any time”.

  • Stephanie Stanhope is president of the Country Women’s Association of NSW.
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