Following the hearings for the People’s Commission into the Housing Crisis, co-commissioners the Hon Doug Cameron and Professor Nicole Gurran have issued the following statement.

Every Australian deserves a decent home. A decent home is the foundation for a good life. Our nation is full of stories of people who achieved amazing things because they had a safe, stable home to rely on.

But too many people have been locked out of the security of home. We have been hearing from them directly as we preside over Australia’s first People’s Commission into the Housing Crisis.

Over many years, government inquiries have heard mountains of evidence from academics, industry and community leaders about the causes and solutions of the crisis. It has not led to systemic change.

This People’s Commission has set out to create real change by hearing from the people who are most affected by the crisis. They are uniquely placed to offer solutions.

We have heard from families who are forced to move every year, absorb hundreds of dollars of rent increases, and whose children have never known a stable home.

We have heard from pensioners who are competing for insecure private rentals instead of planning their retirement.

We have heard from First Nations people about the importance of home to connections to Country, and how hard it is to get support from a system that wasn’t designed by, with or for them.

We have heard from women who have been forced to stay in dangerous relationships because they have nowhere else to go. And we have heard from those who chose to leave anyway, only to endure a life of precarity and homelessness.

We have heard from parents who want to be hopeful about their children’s future. Instead they are fearful of what the future holds – and ashamed that the next generation will be denied the opportunities that they took for granted.

We have heard from nurses, teachers and other key workers who are struggling to hang on to mortgages and rentals that they can barely afford. They are making impossible choices every day to keep a roof over their head. Some are just one paycheck away from ruin.

We have heard from people with disabilities and their carers who have been locked out of the homes they need, from workers who can’t afford to retire, and from migrants to this country who are victims of the crisis – but are being blamed for it.

Many of the people we’ve heard from have been told that the crisis is their fault. That is not true. Their own resourcefulness and sacrifice is the only thing that keeps them afloat. They are being forced to pay the price for the biggest market failure we have ever known.

It is in these conditions that millions of Australians will remain – unless we listen to their voices and demand action.

Australia once had affordable, decent homes. Our Governments built social housing from the ground up in the post-war years, providing homes for everyone from pensioners to public servants, from teachers to construction workers, from single parents to big families. Instead of building on that legacy, Governments have been walking away from providing homes for people.

We cannot rely on the private market to solve this crisis. It is time for our Governments to again recognise that homes are the foundation for social and economic wellbeing, like healthcare or education, and go back to treating housing as essential infrastructure.

We are joining the voices we have heard to call for a massive investment in social housing. These are the homes that people can actually afford to live in. We are joining their calls to protect renters from unfair evictions and unlimited rent increases. And we are joining their calls for an end to an unfair tax system that is pushing up the cost of homes, dividing Australians on the basis of housing wealth.

We know that this is possible. Australia has done it before.

Our hope is all Australians will come together for change, and that Governments around the country will listen and act.

The Hon Doug Cameron

Professor Nicole Gurran

28 May 2024