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Don’t scapegoat migrants for housing crisis, warn housing organisations

By Orana Durney-Benson
02 January 2024 | 12 minute read
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Forty housing and homelessness organisations have warned Australian leaders not to blame overseas migrants for government problems.

Major community services groups across Australia have signed a petition to the Prime Minister and Opposition Leader conveying their concern that new migrants are being inaccurately painted as the driving cause of the housing affordability crisis.

A total of 40 organisations, including National Shelter, the Community Housing Industry Association (CHIA) and the Federation of Ethnic Communities Councils of Australia (FECCA), wrote the letter in response to “disturbing rhetoric” linking the housing crisis to migration levels.


Maiy Azize, spokesperson for Everybody’s Home and coordinator of the letter, said that it is “nonsense to blame overseas migration as a primary driver of a housing crisis that has been decades in the making”.

“Migrants make a valuable contribution to society and fill workplace shortages,” said Ms Azize. “They don’t just create demand for housing, they help build the homes we need.”

Signatories to the letter stated that the key drivers of the current crisis are investor tax incentives and chronic undersupply of social housing, not migration levels.

“During the COVID era which had lower migration, rents actually increased more than they did in the preceding decade,” said Ms Azize.

Between the border closures in March 2020 and full reopening of borders in February 2022, SQM data revealed rents rose to an additional $84 per week, more than the $69 per week increase in the decade from March 2010 to March 2020.

“Australia is one of the least densely populated countries on earth, yet it is among the most expensive places to live,” the letter stated.

Ms Azize warned that fearmongering about migration rates is a “distraction” for the real causes of the crisis, stating that governments have “given handouts to investors, allowed unlimited rent increases, and stopped building homes for the people who need them.

“The new year brings a renewed chance to end this housing crisis,” Ms Azize emphasised. “That can only be done by concentrating on the solutions that actually fix it.

The petition comes in the wake of similar warnings by property experts, who recently warned that a cap in international student numbers could have dire implications for the Australia’s economy.

Matthew Kandelaars from the Property Council of Australia (PCA) stressed: “In a globally competitive environment for the best and brightest, we need to cultivate the brainpower essential for driving Australia’s future prosperity.”

Instead of trying vainly to curb demand, Mr Kandelaars stated that increasing supply of purpose-built student accommodation would be a win-win solution for both local and international students.

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