About the Project

Australia is confronted by an increasing housing affordability crisis resulting in tens of thousands of people being stuck on the waiting-list for social housing for extended periods.  This project is motivated by a need to better understand the lives and circumstances of – people registered on social housing waiting lists (‘waitees’) while they are wating for social housing. The focus is on New South Wales, Queensland and Tasmania. 

This three-year research project has three primary aims. 

Stage One: A review of the management of access to the waiting-list 

This stage will comprise a national review of state and territory government policies and procedures on waiting list management practices. This will involve an examination of policy documents. In addition, interviews will be conducted with stakeholders in Tasmania, New South Wales and Queensland who have first-hand knowledge of waiting-list procedures and working with individuals who are wanting to access the waiting-list. In this phase we will also be reviewing published statistics on state and territory waiting lists and measures of housing need.

Stage two: Developing a profile of waitees 

If we are able to access state government housing records this stage will involve analysing administrative data so as to generate a profile of waitees. This will enable us to determine who is waiting for social housing in terms of key demographic and other characteristics such as household composition, support needs, housing and homelessness status, disability status, and Indigenous status. It will also enable us to discern differences in average waiting times for different sub-populations. 

Stage three: The circumstances and experience of waitees

This is the key focus of the study. Waitees on the general and the priority waiting lists in NSW, Queensland and Tasmania will be interviewed to develop an understanding of the impacts of waithood and how they cope with it. The interviews will examine waitees’ present housing circumstances, their financial circumstances, how they maintain family and caring responsibilities, comply with employment and welfare obligations (including seeking employment). Interviews will pay particular attention to understanding whether, and if so how, waiting for social housing has any impact on how people make decisions about their lives (mobility, work, education, family).

The project involves a partnership between three of Australia’s leading universities: the University of Technology Sydney, UNSW and the University of Queensland. The research is being conducted in partnership with Anglicare Tasmania, Community Housing Limited (CHL), Homelessness NSW, Housing Plus, Micah, Shelter NSW, QShelter, St George Community Housing and Wentworth Community Housing (now called Link Housing).