My home is where my family lives: The changing nature of children’s housing in the 21st century

Housing and living arrangements
Thursday 26 July, 1300 – 1320


Associate Professor Wendy Stone
Swinburne University

Children’s housing and home lives are closely linked with their concept of family (Garbarino, 1995). A small but important evidence base has identified key factors associated with housing and home that matter most for children’s development, education and wellbeing (Dockery et al., 2013). These include housing stability, adequate space, affordable costs and safety. What we know far less about is how increasingly unaffordable housing markets are shaping the ability of couple and sole parent headed families to provide their children with these housing fundamentals (Stone & Reynolds, 2016).

In this paper, child-focused methods are used to examine how the relationship between “family”, “housing” and “home” have changed in the early parts of the 21st century. Using a child-focused analysis of 2006, 2011 and 2016 Census data, supplemented by 2015/2016 Australian Bureau of Statistics Survey of Income and Housing data, the paper provides a contemporary evidence base about Australian children’s housing and homes, including the tenures and home conditions in which they are growing up. It includes analysis of the family and child attributes of children who are housed well, and identifies the family, demographic and spatial factors associated with the growing proportions of Australian children who are missing out on optimal shelter during their formative years.

Findings highlight growth in the proportion of children being raised in privately rented housing, and the geographic spread of increasing rates of housing related affordability stress and heightened residential mobility children are exposed to in major metropolitan and regional areas. Implications for explicit family-friendly housing policy are discussed.