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Symposium explores social impact of housing crisis


Brigid Veale
4 April 2008
Financial stress, discrimination and insecurity of tenure are just some of the issues facing the growing number of people in rental accommodation.

These issues, compounded by the housing affordability crisis, will be explored at a half-day housing symposium at Southern Cross University's Tweed Gold Coast campus on Friday, April 11.

Dr Richard Hil, senior lecturer in the School of Arts and Social Sciences, will chair the symposium which is supported by the University's Centre for Peace and Social Justice.

“This symposium will look at the important social issue of access to affordable housing, the lack of which is currently contributing to increasing social inequality in Australia. Lack of access to affordable housing is perhaps the greatest challenge facing the newly elected Rudd government,” Dr Hil said.

“Many low-income families who are living in rental accommodation are facing huge financial stress and have little or no security of tenure.”

The speakers will include Adrian Pisarski, executive officer for the Queensland Shelter and Chair of National Shelter and Penny Carr, coordinator of the Queensland Tenant's Union.

Louise Holdsworth, who has just completed a PhD at Southern Cross University, will also speak on the issues faced by sole mothers.

“My study looked at the experiences of sole mothers who do not own their homes and are renting in the Ballina, Lismore, Byron Bay and Casino areas,” Dr Holdsworth said.

“One of the key issues is about the status that is accorded to home owners. The prevailing attitude is that home ownership equates with social and personal attributes such as success, belongingness and stability, giving the home owner greater security, power and choice compared to renters.

“Home ownership can also facilitate an increased sense of community because it enables long-term and secure housing.”

Dr Holdsworth said that property prices had risen beyond the means of many low-income households, excluding them from achieving the sought-after goal of home-ownership and leaving them vulnerable to the vagaries of the private rental market.

“What we need to encourage is more social and public housing. We need to ensure that people have access to long-term security so they can develop a sense of belonging.”

The seminar is being held on Friday, April 11, at the Tweed Gold Coast campus, Brett Street, from 1pm to 5pm. To register contact Dr Richard Hil on 07 55069317 or email

Photo: Dr Richard Hil is chairing a housing symposium at the Tweed Gold Coast campus on Friday, April 11. (High resolution photo is available)