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Housing and Community Research Unit (HACRU)

The Housing and Community Research Unit (HACRU) produces socially relevant and policy oriented research on housing, urban and community issues.

Our research interests include the following:

  • Housing affordability.
  • Social and affordable housing policy and practice.
  • Tax policies and other settings influencing how housing markets operate.
  • Household, neighbourhood and community change.
  • The interface between housing and energy policies, including how to make our built environment more sustainable and energy-efficient.
  • The needs of and responses to people disadvantaged by the housing status quo.

We are an affiliate member of the
Australian Housing and Urban Research Institute
and work with government and community groups to promote informed debate and evidence-based policy.

HACRU is affiliated with the University of Tasmania's
Institute for Social Change.

Housing and Community Research Group (HACRU) logo


Room 486, Social Sciences Building
Sandy Bay Campus

Housing & Community Research Unit
University of Tasmania
Private Bag 22

T: + 61 3 6226 2928
F: + 61 3 6226 2864


Featured research projects

Critical Issues in the creation of dementia friendly communities: Maintaining housing for early and mid-stage clients and their carers (2016)
  • Max Travers
  • Erika Altmann
  • Kathleen Doherty

Project objectives: To better understand community attitudes to people with early and mid-stage dementia living in community, with a view to developing policies to assist private housing providers in their provision of services to people with dementia living in the community. This paper grows out of Dr. Erika Altmann’s publications on the housing industry at the University of Tasmania and supervised by Dr. Max Travers. It draws from and builds on the success of the Wicking Dementia Research and Education Centre in the provision of outstanding on-line educational courses demonstrated through the MOOC to deliver better health outcomes and the experience Erika has gained through working on projects at Wicking with Dr Doherty and others. To develop the necessary evidence base upon which to mount higher level grant applications with a view to developing, where necessary, intervention practices that assist people with dementia to live in community for longer. The 2017 DCRC round is targeted. To develop cross disciplinary collaborations between academics within the ABL, Wicking Dementia Research and Education Centre and Faculty of Health Sciences with a view to tackling a major cultural challenge facing local, national and international societies. To develop the research skills of early career researchers and provide sufficient mentoring to enable them to build their research careers and enhance UTAS capacity.

The Housing Careers of Disability Support Pension recipients (2015–16)
  • Michele Gabriel
  • Brendan Churchill

This project will identify the housing circumstances of disability support pension (DSP) recipients and identify the factors that facilitate and constrain their access to housing security. It will provide a baseline for tracking changes in the housing circumstances of individuals who receive the NDIS.

Tariff Trial, Phases One and Two (2016)
  • Heather Lovell
  • Phillipa Watson

Review of tariff trial approach, sample size and overall trial method robustness (Phase One). 1. A review of the 600 household sample size, including discussion of its main opportunities/advantages and limitations. 2. A brief review of up to 10 other publically available tariff trials in Australia, including gathering data on sample size, location, and other key methodological characteristics. This is to benchmark the proposed Tasmania tariff trial, providing comparison of the sample size and experimental design against other similar trials completed within the Australian electricity market. 3. Methodological review of the experimental design. 4. Highlighting of any significant problems with the experimental design (show stoppers) in the methodological review. 5. Suggestion of modifications that could be made to the experimental design to ensure robustness, and of any further activities or approaches that will encourage robustness. This consultancy involves advising on the research approach being only. We are not involved in data collection or analysis.

UTAS will be assisting TasNetworks to develop a survey tool for the Tariff Trail. UTAS will do this by a) running a workshop to develop survey topics, and b) drafting survey questions for review by TasNetworks. The survey is being developed in May and June 2016 for use at the start of Phase One of the Tariff Trial. This is Phase 2 of UTAS assistance. The survey being developed will be sent to householders along with the terms and conditions for the tariff trial. It is a before survey that is to be filled out prior to advanced meter installations in participant homes. This before survey will be coupled in data analysis with an after survey that will be developed at a later date.

Pathways to state housing and land tax reform (2016–18)
  • Richard Eccleston
  • N Warren
  • MB Yanotti

This project develops and models viable 'pathways' for State and Territory governments to transition from transaction based conveyance duties to a broad-based recurrent land taxes. Such reforms would enhance economic efficiency, State financial sustainability and housing affordability.

Inquiry into pathways to housing tax reform (2016)
  • Richard Eccleston
  • K Atalay
  • A Duncan
  • Kathleen Flanagan
  • H Hodgson
  • Keith Jacobs
  • JW Minas
  • R Ong
  • Julia Verdouw
  • N Warren
  • S Whelan
  • MB Yanotti
  • J Yates

This AHURI Inquiry will establish a viable, evidence-based strategy for breaking the political deadlock afflicting Australian housing tax policy. It will identify a pathway to reform that balances political imperatives against technical policy objectives by integrating practical policy analysis with economic modelling in three central elements of Australia’s housing tax regime.

Community engagement for the 'Hard to reach': Trialling participatory social network mapping in Tasmania (2015–17)
  • Daphne Habibis
  • Katheen Flanagan
  • Julia Verdouw
  • S Goodwin

The issue of how to build community engagement and promote pathways to economic and social inclusion for the most excluded social groups is one of the most vexed areas of social policy. This project addresses this concern through an innovative approach designed to avoid ‘benevolent othering’ in areas where place-based stigma creates division and social exclusion that extend to within the neighbourhood itself. The project combines volunteering with participatory community-based action research to develop a system map that extends asset-based community development approaches by identifying how networks operate as enablers and constraints through relationships of power, trust, conflict and collaboration.

The Funding and Delivery of Programs to Reduce Homelessness (2015–17)
  • P Flatau
  • D MacKenzie
  • A Spinney
  • K Valentine
  • Daphne Habibis

This AHURI Inquiry provides evidence on the mix of government and non-government direct and indirect funding in the homelessness service system and across mainstream services and enterprises that support the homeless. The study will examine how the funding of homelessness services influences service provision and outcomes for homeless people.

The impact of mixed funding sources on homelessness support for Indigenous Australians (2015–17)
  • A Spinney
  • Daphne Habibis
  • A Sharam

This project examines how a changing mix of government and non-government, direct and indirect, funding influences service provision and outcomes of services offering homelessness support to Indigenous Australians.

Understanding the lived experience of migrants in Tasmania (2016)
  • Daphne Habibis
  • Richard Eccleston
  • Keith Jacobs
  • Brendan Churchill

This research has generated evidence about: What attracts overseas and interstate migrants to move to Tasmania; the barriers in making the decision to move to Tasmania from interstate and overseas; the factors influencing their decision to stay in Tasmania; and the factors influencing their decision to leave Tasmania.

Understanding the international student education and career pathway experience (2016)
  • Brendan Churchill
  • Richard Eccleston
  • Daphne Habibis

To better understand the international student and career pathway experience in Tasmania and barriers to international students remaining in Tasmania post-graduation, the research has involved: Identifying factors that influence international student participation in the Tasmanian education system; Documenting experiences of international students with a particular focus on the challenges they face during their education; Considering the aspirations of international students for employment after completion of their studies; Determining the current employment outcomes for international students in Tasmania; Identifying factors that impact international students who wish to stay in Tasmania, securing employment and residency in the State.

Centacare Evolve Housing Social Return on Investment (SROI) Project (2016)
  • Richard Eccleston
  • Daphne Habibis
  • Kathleen Flanagan
  • Julia Verdouw

Centacare Evolve Housing requires the University of Tasmania to develop suitable social return on investment framework to calculate the social impact of transferring management of public housing stock to a community sector organisation.

Consumer Engagement Project: Hearing and Listening
  • Anne Coleman

This project involves a partnership between Shelter Tasmania and the Department of Health and Human Services. The University of Tasmania has been contracted to undertake a consultation process in order to develop a model for consumer engagement that would include people experiencing homelessness, people who are at risk of homelessness, or formerly homeless. Consultations have been held at locations in the south and north of the state and approximately 80 people have participated. Service providers are also being consulted to gauge their capacity to support consumer engagement, and to identify how service could be resourced and supported. It is anticipated that the project will be concluded in November 2014.

Get Bill Smart

(Funder: Department of Industry, Innovation, Climate Change, Science, Research and Tertiary Education)

  • Michelle Gabriel
  • Phillipa Watson
  • Millie Rooney

Get Bill Smart is trialling an innovative, community capacity-building approach to the implementation of energy efficiency upgrades for low income households. The aim is to improve householder engagement and education levels regarding energy efficiency and to empower low income households to be more energy efficient. This community capacity-building approach will be compared with a more conventional approach of in-home education and upgrades, a combination of the two approaches, and a control group that does not receive direct support through the project. HACRU are measuring the effects of the various interventions and the outcomes of the project. The University is working with other organisations (Sustainable Living Tasmania, Mission Australia) to deliver the project. To date, the university research team have submitted four milestone reports as part of the project.

Telling it like it is: Aboriginal perspectives on Aborigines, Euro-Australians and race relations

(Funder: Australian Research Council, Linkage Grant)

  • Daphne Habibis
  • Maggie Walter
  • Catriona Elder

This three-year project aims to identify Aboriginal views on how to improve race relations in Australia. The findings will be used as a basis for improving racial harmony in Darwin and as a model for achieving this in other areas of Australia. Central to the research will be the lived accounts of Aboriginal views on race relations. By uncovering Aboriginal perspectives on Euro-Australians the research will reposition the normativity of Euro-Australian culture which is essential for reconciliation. By gaining insights into the diversity and complexity of Aboriginal lives in the Greater Darwin area, the research will also challenge stereotypes and provide a robust evidence base for effective service provision.

  • Launch of ARC Linkage Project Findings - August 2016

Conflicts and challenges: a sociological investigation of key problems in contemporary Australian housing policy making

(Funder: Australian Research Council, Future Fellow Grant)

  • Keith Jacobs

This four-year project is investigating what conflicts in relation to housing reveal about the social divisions in Australian society and the operation of government, and the causes and impact of these social divisions and conflicts. Its findings will provide insights about the conduct of social policy and the capacity of governments to address contemporary housing problems. It will focus on three major problems – how to (i) reduce housing stress among low-income households in the private rental market (ii) overcome the barriers that impede housing organisations from gaining development approval for new affordable housing development, and (iii) address the welfare needs of households residing in social housing at a time of budgetary constraint

Challenging the stigmatisation of poverty and place-based disadvantage

(Funder: Australian Research Council, Discovery Grant)

  • Deborah Warr
  • Keith Jacobs
  • Rowland Atkinson

This three year project examines the ways in which individuals and neighbourhoods are subjected to stigma. Stigma has many negative impacts on individuals and communities, yet it is not widely acknowledged among the wider community. The findings will inform new approaches to research and advocacy for vulnerable populations.

Identifying effective arrangements for tenancy management service delivery to remote Indigenous communities
  • Daphne Habibis
  • Rhonda Phillips
  • Peter Phibbs
  • Julia Verdouw

Housing reforms in remote Indigenous communities have resulted in a variety of tenancy management arrangements with different mixes of state and community housing roles. This project analyses the strengths and limitations of these arrangements, and how effective they are in achieving financially sustainable positive housing outcomes for Indigenous people.

Affordable Housing Strategy Tasmania 2015-2025
  • Daphne Habibis
  • Kathleen Flanagan
  • Julia Verdouw
  • Ian Winter

The project involves collaboration with the Tasmanian state government to deliver an Affordable Housing Strategy Tasmania 2015-2025. This involves an assessment of community need and the identification of possible solutions for the delivery of support services and housing supply. The strategy will provide direction about how Tasmania will work together over the next decade to improve access to safe and affordable homes and support for Tasmanians experiencing homelessness or housing stress.

Individualised forms of welfare provision and reform of Australia's housing assistance system

(Funder: National Housing Research Program Grant)

  • Keith Jacobs
  • Kath Hulse
  • Wendy Stone
  • Ilan Wiesel

The Inquiry will contribute to evidence-based policy through three interrelated projects: (i) a conceptual and policy development framework based on a review of international practice; (ii) a quantitative modelling of household demand and review of housing assistance provision/ innovation; and (iii) a case study based on the National Disability Insurance Scheme.

An individualised welfare approach to housing assistance: conceptual foundations and international experience

(Funder: National Housing Research Program Grant)

  • Keith Jacobs
  • Kath Hulse
  • Michelle Gabriel
  • Julie Lawson

This project will develop a conceptual and policy framework for more individualised approaches to housing assistance in Australia informed by international experience. Acknowledging different institutional, governance and policy contexts, the project will distil key learning, policy opportunities and challenges for reforming the housing assistance system in Australia.

Individualised forms of welfare provision: their utility for Australia's housing system

(Funder: National Housing Research Program Grant)

  • Daphne Habibis
  • Ilan Wiesel

Drawing on secondary evidence, the paper will argue that constrained housing options – attributed in part to the prevailing institutional structures of housing assistance programs – limit choice and control for people with disability participating in the NDIS. The paper will examine policy options to increase housing choice for people with disability.

Aboriginal Lifeworlds, Conditionality and Housing Outcomes

(Funder: National Housing Research Program)

  • Paul Memmott
  • Daphne Habibis
  • Christina Birdsall-Jones

This three-year project considers how housing assistance can be used to foster certain social norms and associated behaviours that contribute to positive outcomes for Indigenous people. It considers what modes of conditionality are most effective and in which contexts and the role of Indigenous cultural and social norms — including kinship obligations and reciprocity—in developing social capital and improvements in housing outcomes. A key hypothesis to be tested is that for positive outcomes, an intercultural recognition space is required which involves mutual recognition of the moral relationships of duty and care between housing administrators, Indigenous community leaders and tenants.

Future Housing and Support Needs of People with Dementia
  • Michelle Gabriel
  • Christine Stirling
  • Deborah Faulkner

This research project aims to provide policy-makers and housing practitioners with new knowledge into the future housing and support needs of people with dementia. It will investigate how to advance strategies to support tenants, extend their capacity to age-in-place and improve service coordination in this area.

Creating the Bilbao Effect: MONA and the Social and Cultural Coordinates of Urban Regeneration Through Arts Tourism

(Funder: Australian Research Council, Linkage Grant)

  • Adrian Franklin
  • Justin O'Connor
  • Nikos Papastergiadis

MONA (Museum of Old and New Art) has been described as one of the most important cultural events in recent Australian history, only topped perhaps by the opening of the Sydney Opera House. It has achieved international recognition not only for its astonishing innovation in generating new ways in which art can be experienced but also in generating economic benefits that create a platform for significant and sustainable urban regeneration. This project is dedicated to discovering how these impact and effects happened and how they can be capitalized on.

Housing: a Post War History
  • Keith Jacobs

This book will provide an historical study to consider the most significant housing issues in the contemporary world including: the political economy surrounding homeownership, the role of public housing, the problem of homelessness, the ways that housing performs in accentuating social and economic inequality, and how suburban housing has transformed city life. Reaktion Press will publish the book in late 2014.

Evaluation of National Partnership Agreement on Homelessness Programs

Daphne Habibis
Michelle Gabriel
Barbara Lloyd
Joel Stafford
Julia Verdouw

The National Partnership Agreement on Homelessness establishes a partnership between state and federal governments with the goal of making a positive difference to homeless people and those at risk of homelessness. This project evaluated five homelessness services in Tasmania that are directly funded by the Agreement or are closely linked with it.

New and Emerging Models of Tenancy Management in Remote Indigenous Communities

Funder: National Housing Research Program Grant

Daphne Habibis
Rhonda Philips
Julia Verdouw

Housing reforms in remote Indigenous communities have resulted in a variety of tenancy management arrangements with management spread across state, community and private housing sectors. This research project identified the different models of tenancy management, and shared the policy and practice lessons across jurisdictions.

Is there a 'tipping point' at which additional services for homeless people do not lead to additional improvements in health and well-being? A study of the STAY service in Tasmania

Funder: Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs

Keith Jacobs
Michelle Gabriel
Stewart Williams
Kathleen Flanagan

This was an evaluation of Housing Tasmania's Specialist Intervention Tenancy Service. The project considered the views of policy makers and the users of services to gauge the optimal point or points of intervention at which different services might become more effective. It is envisaged that the findings from the study will provide policy makers with insights about the level and form of support that is the most effective in assisting homeless people settle in suitable accommodation.

The Role of Informal Community Resources in Supporting Independent Housing for Young People Recovering from Mental Illness: A Guide for Housing Policy Makers and Practitioners

Stephen Loo
Keith Jacobs
Cameron Duff
Shane Murray

This project aimed to enhance the understanding of the role of informal community resources in supporting stable housing and inclusion for young people recovering from mental illness. The project had three discrete objectives; identify the informal community resources, relationships and supports that facilitate the acquisition and retention of stable housing for youth in recovery; identify the various ways youth recovering from a mental illness utilize these informal resources and relationships; and identify ways that informal community resources might be mobilized in the design of novel housing and social initiatives for youth in recovery.

The Economic Contribution of the Salamanca Arts Centre - A cost benefit analysis

Funder: Salamanca Arts Centre

Keith Jacobs

Salamanca Arts Centre is a high-profile Tasmanian Arts organisation located in Hobart. This project provided a cost-benefit analysis of its social, economic and cultural contribution to the community.

The Role of Outreach in Responding to Primary Homelessness

Anne Coleman
David Mackenzie
Brendan Churchill

The project was a collaboration between RMIT Associate Professor David MacKenzie) and UTAS (Anne Coleman and Brendan Churchill) funded by the former Department of Families and Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs. The aim of the project was to document the practice of outreach to people experiencing homelessness (especially those living in public spaces). The finding of the report highlighted the relational nature of outreach work and its importance in responding to people who are usually considered 'hard to engage' and highly vulnerable. A report was provided to the department on August 2013. A monograph has subsequently been published.

Marginal rental housing and marginal renters: A typology for policy

This AHURI funded project led by Robin Goodman at RMIT included Keith Jacobs and Michelle Gabriel from UTAS. With greater demand for affordable housing and critically inadequate supply, low-income Australian households might seem more likely to be forced into living in marginal rental housing, such as a rooming house, boarding house, hostel, hotel/motels and caravan park accommodation. This project explored the current state of marginal housing. It considered questions such as: what are the trends in different geographical locations, what are the drivers of change, and what are the housing policy implications? It provided a comprehensive analysis of the dynamics driving the use of various forms of marginal rental housing, a deeper understanding of how they are used and the experiences and circumstances of users.

The role of informal community resources in supporting independent housing for young people recovering from mental illness: A guide for housing policy makers and practitioners

This AHURI funded project led by Cameron Duff from Monash University included Keith Jacobs and Stephen Loo from UTAS. The project promoted housing policy interventions that strengthen the array of informal resources available in communities to support independent housing for youth in recovery. The project entailed two phases of data collection designed to generate recommendations for the development of novel housing programs for youth recovering from a mental illness. Research was conducted in two sites, Melbourne and Launceston.

Adaptation of the built environment to prepare for the impact of natural hazards

This project, funded with the assistance of the Australian Government Department of Climate Change and Energy Efficiency's climate change adaptation research grants program, examined the likely impacts on the built environment of increased intensities in weather-related natural hazard events. The project, undertaken by a team of researchers led by Assoc. Prof. David King at James Cook University, included a Tasmanian component completed by Dr Stewart Williams and Assoc. Prof. Keith Jacobs. The Tasmanian research concentrated on the role of insurance as an under-utilised regulatory mechanism in relation to housing. For further information on the project contact:

Housing Public Policy and Social Inclusion (Swinburne/UTAS/Flinders)

There are two reports from the project:

Hulse, K., Jacobs, K., Arthurson, K. and Spinney, A. (2010) ' Housing, Public Policy and Social Inclusion : Positioning Paper'.
Hulse, K., Jacobs, K., Arthurson, K. and Spinney, A. (2011) ' At Home and in Place? The Role of Housing in Social Inclusion.'
Both reports can be found on the AHURI website

Improving housing policy responses to indigenous patterns of mobility

Many indigenous individuals and families are highly reliant on the social housing sector because of barriers to private markets. Yet indigenous populations also face difficulties in accessing and sustaining tenancies in housing programs provided by mainstream commonwealth and state and territory housing authorities. One reason for this is that mainstream social housing occurs within a paradigm based on the needs of a sedentary population, involving permanent residence in a single, fixed location. This fails to accommodate the forms of mobility that many Indigenous individuals and families engage in, which reflect attachment to customary practices. This difference between indigenous and non-indigenous lifestyles is one of the reasons for the poor housing outcomes experienced by indigenous peoples in Australia.

The question of how social housing providers should respond to this difference is a vexed one, involving issues of whether alternative and better models of service delivery can, or should, be found. How governments address this question carries implications for the relationship between indigenous and non-indigenous Australia because of its impact on Indigenous aspirations for cultural integrity and cultural survival. This study examines this question through a case study approach conducted in locations in Western Australia, the Northern Territory and South Australia.

Examining the problem of social housing stigmatisation

While there is mounting evidence for experiences and negative effects of housing and neighbourhood stigma in the empirical literature, there remains limited evidence that considers the effectiveness of strategies for countering its impact on people and places. The AHURI funded investigation identified initiatives that have been implemented to challenge perceptions of social housing and 'discredited' neighbourhoods, and to reclaim positive place identities.

Housing, loneliness and health in Australia

Funded by AHURI, this research project is concerned with the relationship between loneliness, housing and health. Specifically, this research is guided by the question of how does the newly emerging issue of loneliness in Australia connect to housing and housing policy in Australia and what is its subsequent impact on health?

This project aims to produce an essay that translated the largely hidden spectre of loneliness in Australia into its proper policy place, on the interface of housing, health and the city. The purpose of this translation was primarily to identify and specify the parameters of an emerging policy area for discussion by policy professionals and policy makers. However, in doing so the essay also identified new areas for research on loneliness that make a significant contribution to connecting housing and health policy and practice.

The environmental sustainability of Australia's private rental housing stock

This AHURI-funded project examined, with colleagues from RMIT and Monash Universities, the potential opportunities for and barriers to improving the environmental sustainability of Australia's private rental stock.

The project's focus on private rental housing reflected the growing significance of this tenure in the Australian housing system; the vulnerability of private rental tenants to higher energy prices; and the relative lack of environmentally sustainable policy initiatives directed towards private rental housing stock to date. In particular, the project examined the impact of the Australian Government's proposed Carbon Emissions Trading (CET) scheme on private rental tenancies.

The scheme poses particular challenges for private rental tenants who are constrained in their adoption of low-emission substitutes as they do not have the right to adapt their homes without landlord acquiescence. Moreover, as the landlord does not reap the immediate benefits of investment in alternative energy efficient equipment, the financial incentives motivating such investment is weaker than those of homeowners.

The project outlined the state government budgetary implications of higher energy rebates due to CET and provided policy makers with estimates of the effectiveness of state energy rebates in cushioning the impacts of CET on private renters. In addition, we provided policymakers with insight into strategies that can encourage providers and consumers of rental housing to adopt more energy efficient practices, whilst ensuring that such policies do not exacerbate existing socio-spatial inequalities in Australian cities.

Regulatory frameworks and their utility for the not for profit housing sector

There has been considerable interest in Australian social housing in expanding the small 'not for profit' sector, within a regulatory framework that makes it possible for governments to give financial support. A number of states have introduced different schemes, and a new National Regulatory Code is about to be introduced. This AHURI project investigated the usefulness of regulatory frameworks for the 'not for profit' housing sector in Australia , through conducting case studies in three states. The research was conducted by Max Travers from the University of Tasmania, Vivienne Milligan and Bill Randolph from UNSW, and Rhonda Philips from the UQ. Additional research on regulation in the UK, the Netherlands, Austria and the USA was conducted by Keith Jacobs (UTAS), Heather MacDonald (UWS) and Julie Lawson (University of Delft). The project was completed by September 2010.

Urban 45: New Ideas for Australia's Cities

The Urban 45 initiative crosses 15 themes with 3 proposals each (hence the '45' of the title) for public intervention in each area, to ensure that our nation's cities are given a central place in efforts to ensure prosperity for all and to revitalise our community and physical infrastructure. The culminating analysis was produced by leading academics across Australia to produce concise policy-relevant statements that will be relevant to ongoing pre-election debates, and beyond.

ARC Discovery project: Privatising neighbourhoods? Governance and social life in master-planned residential estates

Rowland Atkinson, Robyn Dowling (Macquarie University) and Pauline McGuirk (Newcastle University)

Fear, privatism and prestige increasingly mark the form, management and daily life in new neighbourhoods across the world's major cities. However, recognition and analysis of these developments and daily life within such neighbourhoods in the Australian context has been muted. This research looked at the radical transformation in social and governmental relations at the local neighbourhood and urban scales. While some commentators have interpreted master-planned communities as offering new opportunities for community engagement, others have critiqued them for increasing social exclusivity and segregation.

The research:

  • traced the strategies and institutional form of private and public governance of new residential environments in order to contribute to theories of urban governance;
  • analysed social interaction within these new residential environments to assess contemporary models of urban social exclusion and the nature of sociability in privately governed and managed neighbourhoods, and;
  • provided a distinctive and empirically-informed analysis of Australian master-planned residential estates in the context of international debates about private urban governance and its effects.

What future for public housing? A critical analysis

This project was funded by AHURI and explored questions about the future of state managed public housing and its capacity to address household need and community sustainability.

Natural disasters: preparations and responses

This project was funded by AHURI and explored how Australian state housing authorities prepare for and respond to natural disasters, revealing the insights of staff and tenants with experience of either flood, bushfire and cyclone.


The capacity of art to enable us to imagine new ways of seeing how we live and the world we inhabit was explored in a recent essay for a catalogue that accompanied an exhibition that focussed on neighbourhood stigma.

The Consequences of the Creative Class for Australian Cities

This work is looking at the impact on affordable housing and communities from the increasing pursuit of creative city strategies and will be pursued through case studies in Brisbane, Hobart, Melbourne and Sydney.

Housing affordability for lower income Australians

(AHURI Collaborative Research Venture Project). In partnership with the Universities of Sydney, Swinburne, Western Sydney and RMIT.

The impacts of social diversity in neighbourhoods

A systematic review of the literature (in collaboration with the University of Glasgow (Department of Urban Studies) and University of Amsterdam (Department of Geography).

The rise of the female investor: young women and housing investment

The rise in young women investing in the Australian property market represents a marked shift in the attitudes and experiences of women compared with previous generations. In view of this trend, Dr Michelle Gabriel is undertaking a study of how housing investment is factored into young women's plans for their financial future.

Missed Opportunities? An appraisal of Hobart's CBD

This new report about the potential residential and other uses for Hobart's CBD is Report no. 2 in the Hobart Urban Profile series; Report no. 1 on a housing and urban history of Hobart city-region will be available in early January 2008.

Demanding Behaviour: Developing strategies for the effective management of problematic households (AHURI)

Using literature reviews and case study research across Australia, this work aims to provide best practice guidance to frontline and managerial public housing staff in an attempt to help sustain many of the problems generated from housing tenants with histories of mental illness. The is designed to feed into wider concerns about such demanding behaviour while addressing the costs to tenants and communities generated by pursuing eviction. Funded by the Australian Housing and Urban Research Institute.

21st Century housing careers

AHURI collaborative research venture project in partnership with Flinders and Monash Universities.

National Drug Law Enforcement Research Fund (NDLERF)

Project on developing effective strategies for tackling drug and related problems on social housing estates (in partnership with Swinburne and Edith Cowan Universities).

Housing management tenant incentive schemes (AHURI funded)

An AHURI project to review. In partnership with Flinders University and University of Queensland.

The challenges faced by low-income households seeking access to the private rental market

Housing Tasmania

The housing problems experienced by Indigenous youth and elderly Aboriginal People in Tasmania

In partnership with University of Tasmania's Centre for Aboriginal Education - Riawunna (Aboriginal Housing Services).

Housing management responses to tackling anti-social behaviour on public housing estates

(In partnership with South Australia University.)

Positioning Paper and Final Report available at AHURI

A review of social exclusion literature and asses its relevance for housing

(In partnership with University of South Australia University.)

Final Report available at AHURI

Options available for State Governments to support boarding house providers

(In partnership with Queensland University of Technology and the University of Sydney).

Positioning Paper and Final Report available at AHURI

Housing stock transfers in Tasmania, New South Wales and Victoria

With colleagues working at University of Western Sydney and University of Queensland (University of Tasmania)

Review of supported tenancies program for young people

Housing Tasmania

Homelessness issues discussion paper

Department of Health and Human Services

A critical review of intervention studies and evidence-based policy

(In partnership with University of Flinders and Adelaide Universities)

Final Report available at AHURI

The development of good practice models in meeting the needs of homeless young people in rural areas

(In partnership with Flinders, South Australia and Adelaide Universities).

Final Report available at AHURI

A review of the operation of private rental support programmes for low income households

(In partnership with RMIT, Queensland University of Technology, Flinders University, ANU, University of Sydney and Curtin University).

Final Report available at AHURI

Exit strategies and their utility for housing regeneration programmes

(In partnership with University of Western Sydney and University of South Australia.

Final Report available at AHURI

Evictions and Housing Management: Towards More Effective Strategies

(In partnership with Flinders University).

Final Report available at AHURI

Housing Affordability issues and their impact within the State

Housing Tasmania

Daphne Habibis


National grant success for HACRU researchers

December 2017: HACRU researchers Dr Kathleen Flanagan, Assoc. Prof. Daphne Habibis and Prof. Keith Jacobs have been awarded six competitive national research grants worth $365,000 in the 2017 National Housing Research Program. Four of the grants address the issue of housing support for vulnerable families such as those experiencing domestic and family violence and will be used to look at how housing services can best be integrated with other types of support to enhance individual and family safety and wellbeing. The projects will provide new knowledge on the nature of housing insecurity, housing pathways and transition points for families leaving violence. The other two projects will consider the question of how social housing can be reconceptualised as a form of essential infrastructure, akin to other public goods such as roads, and what this might mean for investment in social housing. The two research programs will be conducted in collaboration with researchers at UNSW and RMIT respectively, and will draw on the expertise of leading national and international policy makers and scholars.

HACRU affiliates Prof. Bruce Tranter and Dr Kate Booth were successful in the 2017 ARC Discovery round, being awarded more than $327,000 for a project examining questions of insurance and natural disasters in order to develop an understanding of the geographies of inadequate insurance and the implications for disaster management. This research will strategically improve disaster policy and practice at a time when the incidence and severity of natural disasters
is a significant national problem.

Accolades for ‘Get Bill Smart’

‘Get Bill Smart’, is an innovative community engagement project aimed at improving home energy efficiency, increased indoor comfort and reduced energy bills for low-income households. It has been awarded the prestigious Ricoh Business Centre Hobart Environment Award at the 2016 Community Achievement Awards. ‘Get Bill Smart’ was a collaborative effort between a HACRU research team (Dr Michelle Gabriel, Dr Pip Watson and Dr Millie Rooney), Sustainable Living Tasmania and Mission Australia. It trialled a community-driven approach to supporting households to make changes to their homes and energy use. The knowledge gained has created a foundation on which future energy efficiency support programs can be built, and delivered tangible, day-to-day benefits to its many participants.

Two projects on Tasmania’s population growth strategy

Daphne Habibis, Brendan Churchill and Prof. Richard Eccleston have completed two projects for the Tasmanian Government’s Department of State Growth. These projects will inform the Tasmanian state’s population growth strategy, which aims to grow Tasmania’s population to 650,000 by 2050. One project identifies the push and pull factors driving international and interstate migrants to come to, and settle in or move away from, Tasmania. The other analyses the international student experience in Tasmania and barriers to international students remaining in Tasmania post-graduation.

Special edition of Housing Studies

Keith Jacobs and Kathleen Flanagan are guest editors for a forthcoming special edition of the leading journal Housing Studies on the theme of ‘The Long View’. This edition encourages authors to adopt a historical perspective on contemporary research and policy questions in ways that advance theoretical and methodological exploration. By looking backwards, engaging critically with the present, and looking towards the future, papers will step back from the immediacies of current policy concerns and consider how housing and related issues might be situated in a more critical, contextualised and problematised framework. The theme is the same as that of the recent successful Housing Theory Symposium, convened in mid-2016 by HACRU at the University of Tasmania.

New research modes: art and stigma

In December, artworks created by communities in Melbourne’s western, and Hobart’s northern suburbs were exhibited in ‘Not THAT place: art vs stigma’ at Melbourne University.

An earlier exhibition, ‘Curtain Call’, was held at Tasmania’s Moonah Arts Centre at the beginning of 2016.

These exhibitions were part of an ARC Discovery project on ‘Challenging place-based stigma’.

The project investigators were HACRU’s Keith Jacobs and Deborah Warr from the University of Melbourne.

New HACRU Director (Aug 2012)

Professor Keith Jacobs has recently been awarded an Australian Research Council Future Fellowship (see below). Congratulations to Keith for this substantial achievement. His study will investigate some of Australia's key housing problems (see below) and he will remain as a core member of HACRU.

The new director of the Housing and Community Research Unit is Associate Professor Daphne Habibis. Daphne studied sociology at the London School of Economics in the UK before joining the School of Sociology and Social Work at the University of Tasmania. Her most recent position was sociology discipline head, Launceston campus. She has published widely on housing and urban policy issues especially in relation to tenancy sustainment and Aboriginal housing. She has been the chief investigator on a number of Australian Housing and Urban Research Institute research projects. Her current research projects include investigating the relationship between welfare conditionality and Aboriginal housing outcomes, and new and emerging forms of tenancy management in remote Aboriginal communities.

ARC Future Fellowship Award (Aug 2012)

Keith Jacobs, Director of HACRU, has been awarded an Australian Research Council Future Fellowship 2012-2016. The title of Keith's project is 'Conflicts and challenges: A sociological investigation of key problems in Australian housing policy making'. His research will involve case studies in Brisbane, Melbourne and Sydney, as well as comparative studies to be undertaken in the UK and Sweden. The funding conditions of the Future Fellowship award require Keith to step down from his role as Director of HACRU. The University will shortly be advertising for a new director of HACRU.

Conference: Australasian Housing Researchers Conference 2015

In February 2015 HACRU are convening the 8th Annual AHRC Conference at the University of Tasmania, Hobart.

The Australasian Housing Researchers conference is an annual conference that was established in 2006 as an interdisciplinary forum for the housing research community. It provides an opportunity for social scientists from the university and industry sectors to network, present research findings and critically consider contemporary issues in housing theory and policy.

Keynotes include:

  • Professor Geoffrey Meen, University of Reading, UK
  • Professor Brendan Gleeson, University of Melbourne, Australia
  • Professor Laurence Murphy, University of Auckland, New Zealand
  • Dr Heather Lovell, University of Tasmania, Australia.

For further information please contact the conference managers.

The conference is supported by the University of Tasmania's Housing and Community Research Unit, and the Institute for the Study of Social Change.

Workshop: Housing Economic Workshop

Professor Peter Phibbs

On Wednesday 2nd July 2014, HACRU presented a Housing Economics Workshop led by Professor Peter Phibbs (University of Sydney).

Housing economics is an important component of many research projects involving a range of housing issues. This workshop investigated key economic issues involved in housing and housing research and covered:

  • Approaches to cost analysis including cost-effectiveness analysis and benefit cost analysis
  • Economic issues in program evaluation
  • Key data sets
  • What is a housing market?

The discussion included how these topics have been addressed in AHURI projects that Peter has been involved with.

Seminar: Rachel Ong

Associate Professor Rachel Ong

On Thursday 24th July, HACRU hosted Associate Professor Rachel Ong (Curtin University, Western Australia) who presented a seminar on "Mortgage Equity Withdrawal in Australia: Recent Trends and Institutional Settings."

"Australian tax preferences and asset test concessions have traditionally favoured wealth accumulation in the primary home, with added impetus lent by a decade-long period of sustained house price appreciation prior to the global financial crisis. The primary home is increasingly viewed by governments worldwide as a key store of wealth that can perform a welfare role in retirement in an era of population ageing. This paper presents mortgage equity withdrawal trends in Australia, and assesses whether the Australian institutional environment encourages mortgage equity withdrawal drawing on a selective international review of six developed countries. The review suggests that Australia's institutional settings offer relatively favourable conditions for equity withdrawal that has encouraged Australian homeowners to tap into their housing equity at earlier stages of the life course. To the extent that mortgage equity withdrawal is exercised over the life course (and not just post-retirement), more Australians will approach retirement carrying outstanding mortgage debt burdens. These findings have implications for the effectiveness of retirement income systems and the role of housing wealth as an asset base for welfare in old age."

Conference: ACE ESAM Conference 2014

The first ever joint meetings of the Australian Conference of Economists (ACE) and Econometric Society Australasian Meeting (ESAM) were held in Hobart, Tasmania, hosted by the University of Tasmania on 1-4 July 2014.

On Thursday 3rd July, HACRU hosted two housing panels:

Panel 1, 1:45 - 2:45pm
Three things that will fix the housing affordability crisis

Prof Peter Phibbs, Chair of Urban Planning and Policy, USYD
Prof Richard Eccleston, Director, Institute for the Study of Social Change, UTAS
Mr Rob Brooker, Head of Australian Economics and Commodities, NAB
Discussant: Dr Michael Fotheringham, Deputy Executive Director, Australian Housing and Urban Research Institute

Panel 2, 2:45 - 3:45pm
Implications of the NDIS for housing and social service reform

Prof David Adams, Prof of Management and Innovation, UTAS
Dr Ilan Vizel, City Futures Research Centre, UNSW
Dr Ceridwen Owen, Deputy Head, School of Architecture and Design, UTAS
Discussant: Dr Michael Fotheringham, Deputy Executive Director, Australian Housing and Urban Research Institute

Seminar: AHURI Housing Research Seminar - Hobart, 14 June 2012

Downloads available for PowerPoint and audio presentations by Keith Jacobs on 'stigma and public housing' and Michelle Gabrielle on 'environmental sustainability and the private rental market'.

Symposium: Housing theory symposium: Home, objects and things, 19 - 20 March 2012

A symposium organised by the Housing and Community Research Unit. Photographs from the symposium (PDF 844KB).

Seminar: Urban inequalities, local public services and middle class community activism: making the connections, 9 December 2011

A seminar organised by the Housing and Community Research Unit. Speaker: Annette Hastings, Leader Neighbourhoods and Wellbeing Research Group, School of Social and Political Sciences, University of Glasgow.

Seminar: Contemporary Design in Social Housing, 18 January 2011

A presentation organised by the Housing and Community Research Unit. Speaker: Paul Johnston, Paul Johnston Architects, Hobart

Seminar: Suburban Australia: A retrospective view, 27 June 2010

A seminar organised by the Housing and Community Research Unit. Speaker: Prof. Adrian Franklin, School of Sociology and Social Work, University of Tasmania.

HACRU forum: A public conversation about public housing, 5 June 2008

A discussion forum organised by the Housing and Community Research Unit

Symposium: Home/City/Neighbourhood/+ Mediating points and containers in contemporary urban social life, 13 & 14 December 2007

A symposium organised by the Housing and Community Research Unit. Key speaker: Professor Tim Butler, King's College London.

Seminar: SBOs and Australia - Anti-social behaviour, housing and the law, 31 August 2007

Judy Nixon (Principal Lecturer in Studies into Anti-Social Behaviour, UK), Michele Slatter (Flinders, School of Law), Caroline Hunter (Senior Lecturer in Housing Law)

Seminar: Urban summit: The Urban 45: New Ideas for Australian Cities, 16 August 2007

State Library, Melbourne

Seminar: Housing improvement and health: a systematic review of world literature, 2 July 2007

Hilary Thomson, Medical Research Council, University of Glasgow

Seminar: Social mix and Public Housing, 16 February, 2007

Kathy Arthurson (Swinburne University) and Kathy Arthurson (Newcastle University).

Symposium: Housing and Theory, 14-15 February, 2007

Key speaker - Professor Philip O'Neill of the Urban Research Centre, UWS. A special issue of Housing, Theory and Society is in production with papers selected from this meeting.