The National Housing Conference 2017 program is designed to be broad in scope and supports Australia’s contemporary ‘full spectrum’ housing policy debate. It ranges from homelessness, through to social and affordable housing and on into the housing market, land supply, land use planning and city deals.

With more than 1000 delegates and 150 speakers participating in 35 sessions over three days, NHC Sydney is set to be the most significant conference in many years.


Summaries of the National Housing Conference sessions are outlined below.

Keynote plenary sessions

Wednesday 29 November (4pm)

Designing a National Housing Strategy for Canada: Lessons Learned

What can Australia learn from Canada, a country operating under the same federated system of government? Evan Siddall, who played a key role in developing Canada’s new National Housing Strategy will outline the key features of the Strategy and the political challenges in its implementation. Mr Siddall will also outline the important role the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation plays in contributing to the stability of the housing market and financial system and providing support for Canadians in housing need.

Thursday 30 November (9am)

Flying the National Housing Finance and Investment Corporation

Is the National Housing Finance and Investment Corporation (NHFIC) the key to boosting affordable housing supply in Australia? As the Federal Government pushes to implement the NHFIC, what can we learn from the leader of the UK equivalent, and key adviser to the Federal Treasury, Mr Piers Williamson. Join Mr Williamson, and a panel of experts to examine what conditions are required in Australia to optimise the success of the NHIFC and what other layers of innovation are required to jump-start the supply of more affordable housing.

Friday 1 December (11.30am)

The safe house: the role of housing in domestic and family violence

Following a period of significant policy reflection and reform on the issue of family and domestic violence, including the National Plan to Reduce Violence against women and their children as well as Victoria’s Royal Commission into Family and Domestic Violence, this session aims to take stock of all current state/territory and federal initiatives. What more needs to be done to ensure safe and secure housing options for individuals and families vulnerable to, or experiencing domestic and family violence?


Major concurrent sessions

Thursday 30 November (11am)

MAJ1: From crisis to prevention: transformation of the homelessness system

How well has Australia’s homelessness system transformed from crisis response, to early intervention and prevention and how does Australia’s system compare to the US?

MAJ2: State(s) of housing policy and the new National Housing and Homelessness Agreement

In the context of the new National Housing and Homelessness Agreement (NHHA) how are the States and Territories responding to this new framework. This session presents a round-up of housing policy innovation from across the nation.

MAJ3: Ready for growth: Building Australia’s affordable housing industry

As well as a secure financing model for affordable housing, what are the other conditions required to enable the sector to scale up to a thriving industry. This session will examine the strategies required for continued growth, including system regulation and private sector engagement.

Friday 1 December (1.45pm)

MAJ4: Closing the Indigenous housing gap

How do we create better housing choices for Indigenous Australians given many of the unique challenges such as remoteness of communities, culturally appropriate housing, overcrowding and the high rate of Indigenous homelessness? This session will examine different state and territory housing policies to provide better housing choice and improve housing outcomes for Indigenous Australians.

MAJ5: Delivering social outcomes

Details to be announced soon. This session has been fully designed. Stay tuned for speaker announcements.

MAJ6: What’s the (City) Deal with affordable housing?

The Federal Government is actively pursuing a cities agenda through the establishment of City Deals. What role can these City Deals play in creating affordable housing in our established and emerging cities, and how can local, state and federal governments collaborate to create affordable and liveable cities?


Minor concurrent sessions

Thursday 30 November (1.30pm)

MIN1: Collaboration, culture and community: leading practice in homelessness

Programs that promote community-wide collaboration and involvement can make a significant difference to helping people who are experiencing homelessness. This session features a series of presentations that consider whole of community responses to homelessness including culturally appropriate solutions for Indigenous people and community development programs that provide genuine choice for at risk young people.

MIN2: Practice, design and technology solutions for people with disability

The National Disability Insurance Scheme is changing how housing for people with a disability is developed and run. This session will be grounded in a presentation analysing current housing needs for people with disability, before a panel of experts discusses real solutions to assist people to identify, understand and undertake successful practice in housing for people, including Indigenous Australians, with a disability.

MIN3: Digital technology for tenants and the homeless

From using geospatial technology to help rough sleepers connect with service providers to programs that encourage residents to engage online with government effectively, this session will feature case study presentations that examine how digital technology can help deliver the best outcomes for public and social housing clients, and people experiencing homelessness.

MIN4: Australia vs England – tenant choice and voice

In the spirit of friendly rivalry, this session pits Australia against England as two experts debate which country better engages with tenants to offer true choice with respect to their housing needs. In addition, what impact will the soon to be released Productivity Commission Inquiry into human services have on tenant choice into the future?

MIN5: Re-imagining the private rental sector

What will Australia’s private rental sector look like in 20 years? This session will be grounded in a presentation based on the AHURI Inquiry that is investigating the changes required to create an equitable, efficient and effective private rental sector that also caters to low-income households. What international best practice can Australia learn from to develop a sector where Australian renters can develop a sense of home and place?

MIN6: Scalpel or sledgehammer: breaking the tax deadlock

This session aims to break the political deadlock afflicting Australian housing tax policy. Underpinned by the AHURI Inquiry into housing tax reform, an expert panel will chart the pathway to reform that balances the political imperatives against the policy objectives to create meaningful tax reform and help make housing more affordable.

Thursday 30 November (3.30pm)

MIN7: Contemporary estate renewal practices

Large-scale social housing renewal programs are promising new mixed communities where social housing blends with private and affordable housing. Presentations from different states will look at what works with such projects and what happens to the tenants who were there before the rebuilding begins.

MIN8: The age old problems in housing

As Australia’s population ages, this session investigates older people in the private rental market; housing security and risk amongst men and women age 50+; and new forms of housing that could benefit ageing Australians.

MIN9: Respecting Indigenous culture and voice in the provision of housing

Understanding the cultural requirements of Indigenous Australians will help policy makers and practitioners deliver appropriate housing. Presenters in this session will examine the return to self-determination in Aboriginal Housing in the NT; ways to create culturally and contextually appropriate Indigenous housing; and the implementation and evaluation of Aboriginal tenant support and education programs.

MIN10: Locally made: affordable housing and local government

Local governments are increasingly concerned about the lack of affordable housing within their jurisdictions. This session explores how the local government sector can best contribute to the provision of affordable housing, through a number of case studies.

MIN11: Build to Rent

Is Australia ready for Built to Rent (BTR)—a dedicated supply of rent only apartment blocks? With a focus on experiences from overseas (where over £10 billion of institutional capital is in play in the UK), this session and panel discussion explores one of Australia’s large-scale institutional investors’ intention to enter the BTR market.

MIN12: Social impact investment for housing and homelessness

Internationally, social impact investment offers potential for funding and financing solutions to complex social problems. This session seeks to understand the roles, opportunities, risks, levers and barriers in applying social impact investment to housing policy in Australia.

Friday 1 December (9am)

MIN13: Leading practice in domestic and family violence prevention

This session and panel discussion showcases new strategies and ways to use resources to allow different levels of government and community housing providers to deliver effective services to victims of domestic and family violence.

MIN14: Housing for mental wellbeing

People with a mental illness are more than twice as likely to have experienced homelessness. A series of short presentations will examine how to make the private rental market as a feasible option for people with a mental illness who are homeless, and at the connections between mental illness and housing experienced by children and young people.

MIN15: As if social housing were infrastructure…

If social housing were treated as key public infrastructure, like roads and rail, would it become a greater priority for investment? The subject of an AHURI Inquiry, this session will articulate the rationale for designing social housing as infrastructure, examine the international evidence and identify appropriate investment pathways.

MIN16: Leading edge in Indigenous tenancy management

Many problems arise from the difference between culturally appropriate Indigenous ways of living and mainstream housing tenancy arrangements. This session highlights leading practice in Indigenous tenancy management including a community housing group working with Aboriginal communities to create partnerships with government and outside organisations, and research on supply and management of housing for Aboriginal people.

MIN17: A stocktake on stock transfers

As the push for an affordable housing ‘industry’ continues, what role will stock transfers from government to community housing sector play in this scaling up? By examining stock transfers in Australia to-date, this session will frame the conditions required to support further transfers as a key element of building the capacity of Australia’s affordable housing industry.

MIN18: Land use planning, value capture and density – the keys to affordable housing supply

With the Federal Government linking planning regulations reform to the increase of housing supply under the new National Housing and Homelessness Agreement, this session will feature short presentations focussing on land-use planning approaches, such as inclusionary zoning and how to deliver real planning reform to help increase affordable housing supply.


Sunrise sessions

Thursday 30 November (7.45am)

SUN1: Innovative financing for affordable housing

A voluntary tax on housing profits, shared equity schemes and partnerships between not-for-profit landowners and social impact investors are all exciting new ways of funding affordable housing explored in this session.

SUN2: Energising social housing – Energy Innovation in Practice

How can housing become more energy efficient, reducing spiralling energy costs for lower income tenants and housing providers? Some community housing providers see environmentally sustainable housing as one way to mitigate risk and deliver reduced operational and maintenance costs.