It’s not enough to just put money into housing programs. This money has to be well spent. Policies, programs and legislative arrangements need to be set up which best serve the needs of low-income households. Programs need to ensure that housing is affordable, adequate, secure, accessible, well-located and responsive to changing needs.

As part of its work, National Shelter has carried out research and consultation on issues of concern to low-income households. Pieces of work issued between 2009 and 2011 were funded by the Commonwealth Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs (FaHCSIA).

Marginal tenures

Boarding houses and caravan parks often serve as ‘housing of last resort’ for residents – many of the 75,000 Australians who live in them are highly disadvantaged and have complex needs. National Shelter has issued a policy paper on marginal tenures and their residents. The report surveys trends in supply, and analyses critical regulation issues such as tenancy protection, health and safety standards, and the licensing of operators. The report also presents a set of recommendations to provide a starting point for discussions with Commonwealth and state/territory governments about improving supply and the housing circumstances of residents.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander housing

Representatives from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander (ATSI) and mainstream housing organisations and peak bodies met in Brisbane in July 2010, under the auspices of National Shelter, to discuss a range of housing issues facing ATSI peoples and to develop possible solutions. Following this roundtable we released a policy statement which calls for an urgent injection of resources to address the housing needs of ATSI peoples. Follow-up meetings in May 2011 and May 2012 reaffirmed the key messages in this statement and explored some of the issues in more depth.

Tenancy legislation

We commissioned the National Association of Tenant Organisations to undertake a review of tenancy protections in the various state/territory jurisdictions. The report, A better lease on life, was released in April 2010, and it outlines a reform agenda to improve tenants’ rights frameworks across Australia.

Older Australians’ housing

We carried out a literature search and conducted a series of round table forums around Australia in early 2009, to identify key housing issues and opportunities facing older Australians.


National Shelter works closely with Homelessness Australia and other organisations on issues related to homelessness and the support of homeless people. In recent years we have made submissions to the Australian Bureau of Statistics on proposed changes to the method of counting homeless people in the census, and to the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Family, Community, Housing and Youth Inquiry into Homelessness Legislation.