Media Release by The Hon Brendan O’Connor MP

Research shows stable housing important for kids’ development

New research showing how housing instability affects children’s development reaffirms the fundamental need for a safe and stable home for all children, Minister for Housing and Homelessness Brendan O’Connor said today.

Mr O’Connor released the research at the 12th annual Australian Institute of Family Studies (AIFS) Conference in Melbourne.

The AIFS study – The influence of unstable housing on children’s wellbeing and development – explores for the first time the association between unstable housing tenure and housing stress on children’s development and wellbeing in Australia.

“The Gillard Government believes all Australians are entitled to a safe, affordable home and this research reinforces the Government’s decision to make housing and homelessness a major priority,” Mr O’Connor said.

“That’s why we have invested a record $20 billion in housing and homelessness programs since 2008, including the Social Housing Initiative, the National Rental Affordability Scheme, the Housing Affordability Fund and the Building Better Regional Cities program.

“In fact, this Government has made a direct financial contribution to one in 20 new homes built since 2008.

“This is in stark contrast to the decade of neglect of housing under the Liberals, who ripped $3.1 billion out of public housing and failed to invest in affordable housing.”

Using data from Growing Up in Australia: The Longitudinal Study of Australian Children, the study found large differences in children’s developmental outcomes, depending on their housing tenure.

Children whose parents were together and who were living in public housing had lower levels of receptive vocabulary and higher rates of emotional or behavioural problems than children living in couple families who owned or were paying off their own home.

For children in families where the parents had separated, those in the eight-to-nine-year age group whose parent owned the home had far lower rates of emotional or behavioural problems than any other group of children in separated families.

Mr O’Connor said the report, funded under the Gillard Government’s $11.4 million National Homelessness Research Agenda, provides the Government with greater insight into the wellbeing of Australian families and how they are affected by housing stress.

“It’s important that we understand family dynamics and how environmental changes in the home can impact on the wellbeing of a family,” Mr O’Connor said.

“That’s why research such as this is vital to understanding what support services and care are needed to assist parents and children.”

Mr O’Connor said the Government was pleased to support this year’s AIFS Conference.

“The three-day conference is a wonderful opportunity for governments, service providers, researchers and community organisations to discuss research, policy priorities and issues important to family wellbeing in Australia,” Mr O’Connor said.

“It will provide the Government with insight into the current wellbeing of Australian families and how we can further improve the support services and programs available to meet their needs.

“I congratulate the Institute for hosting their 12th annual conference and for their dedication to providing greater insight into Australian families.”

The research is available at