Emma Baker and colleagues write in The Conversation (25.8.16) about the looming shortage of public housing in Australia, suggesting that governments need to act quickly to increase housing stock or slum areas will begin to reappear in the nation’s larger cities.
‘Truth be told, most Australians live in good housing. This is good news for all of us because our housing is a major determinant of our health and wellbeing. But our very recent research findings, published this month in the Journal of Prevention and Intervention in the Community, and the lessons of history tell us this good news story is at risk.
‘Ideally, housing provides us with the secure, comfortable shelter that people and their families need to live healthy, productive lives. In general, we have a modern housing stock with good heating and cooling, few major structural problems and few problems with damp and mould. By contrast, bad housing makes it much more likely you will get sick and stay sick once ill.
‘In Australia’s early years, much of the housing stock was of poor quality, often overcrowded, and posed real risks to people’s health. Slums were common in the inner parts of the major cities and in many country towns.
‘… Given the time it takes to reform policy and plan for our cities and regions, Australia urgently needs to face up to the dismal reality that once again many Australians are living in housing not fit for habitation.
‘Governments must take steps to ensure the supply of affordable housing of reasonable quality. Otherwise, we are destined to become a nation scarred once again by slums, reduced life chances and shortened lives.’