Conference focus on housing challenges

A Regions Rising National Event Series conference was recently held virtually for Mount Gambier, which discussed regional housing challenges and solutions.

Keynote addresses were delivered by Regional Australia Institute Chief Economist Dr Kim Houghton and the Minister for Regional Development Clare Scriven.

Ms Scriven discussed the State Government’s plans for regional development in South Australia and Mr Houghton discussed housing analysis which had both local and national implications in regards to understanding regional housing markets.

Panellists included Tatiara District Council chief executive Anne Champness, Unity Housing chief executive Matthew Woodward, Kere to Country co-Founder and director Robyn Varrall and RDA Yorke and Mid-North Kelly-Anne Saffin.

Mr Houghton said the conference showcased how communities could take significant action to get new houses out on the ground to meet the increasing need.

“Mount Gambier’s been experiencing significant inflows of new residents from capital cities,” he said.

“The Regional Movers Index has shown increases in the numbers of people moving into the South East overall, which is going to be putting strain on the housing markets and on community services in those areas too.

“So it’s really helpful I think in planning and managing this to understand where people are coming from, how many people are coming and that will help to understand the extent of the housing needs that are arising.”

Mr Houghton said from March 2020 to March 2022, regional house prices grew approximately 36% across Australia, whereas metro house prices grew around 21%.

He said capital city house prices had begun to decrease over the last couple of months, however this was not the case for regional areas.

“The house price growth story that we have all been talking about has really been a regional story rather than a metro story,” he said.

In regards to solutions, Ms Saffin discussed how she had worked with Mr Woodward, the council and financers to build affordable housing in their region.

Ms Champness discussed action their community had taken to make it easier for new homes to be built in Tatiara and Mr Woodward spoke about mechanisms that could help and hinder his work.

“We talked about bigger-picture policies, but I think what people really want to hear is how somebody in a regional setting like theirs has actually gone about doing something practical,” Mr Houghton said.

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