Driving new conversation and thinking
More than just feeling at home where they live, everyone should have the opportunity to be connected to their community and have access to the services and facilities that will enrich their lives. Planning with these priorities at the forefront will allow all people to build social capital through social connections - to build relationships and networks with the community around us. But to bring this level of liveability to everyone, our ‘Great Aussie Dream’ needs to be opened up, which starts with innovative housing policy.
The ‘Great Aussie Dream’ as we have known it, is unattainable for a vast proportion of the population, with younger generations, low to moderate income earners, and the elderly facing the possibility of never owning their own home. But this does not mean they cannot have access to everything they need. And to bring this level of liveability to everyone, we need to shift the ‘Great Aussie Dream’ from home ownership to access and liveability.
In planning for the growth of our cities, we can provide housing in accessible locations, close to jobs and services, with high amenity parks and community life. These aspects significantly enrich lives and build our social capital – the ability to build relationships and connect with the community around us.
Although Australians are largely urban-dwellers, we are still in the grip of a suburban mindset. In Sydney for instance, this ‘affordable urban fringe’ is now 70km from the CBD, and public transport is less likely to work for some jobs, such as shift-workers, nurses on night-duty, police officers and other key workers.
The further out people live, the longer their commute and the less time they have to spend with their family and friends and enjoy a balanced life. It often means being further away from services and amenities, placing a heavy reliance on cars because proximity to public transport is compromised. Infrastructure cannot keep up with the sprawl, and building new infrastructure to the far reaches of suburbia is going to come with significant and unsustainable cost.
Far from being a simple matter of boosting housing supply, addressing Australia’s housing challenge is complex. It calls for a set of concerted and coordinated initiatives by national, state and local governments working alongside business and community. By working together we can create places of vibrancy, diversity and productivity. We can create places that attract talent and investment, where people want to live, work and play.
Rather than continuing to push outwards, we should fix our sights on creating great cities that benefit from density and harness connectivity. And critically, our cities should be places that offer a mix of housing to match the diverse make-up of our citizens, providing opportunities for all regardless of economic circumstance. We need to plan for our growing populations, with diverse housing needs, providing various housing types in optimal locations that are well-connected.
Through the Cities Agenda, PwC is committed to helping driving new conversation and thinking on these important housing initiatives.