How can we enable people to live closer to where they work?

What is the Problem?

Australia has always been an urbanised country with 70 per cent of our population highly concentrated around a few major cities. The search for affordable housing in cities has forced many to look towards the outer regions and fringes of our major cities.

There is now a growing geographical divide between where jobs are (inner city) and the outer suburbs where people can afford to live. The long distances and times that many people spend going to and from work have implications not only for them but also for the nation’s economic activity, participation and productivity. Having staff based further away from the city affects city-centre businesses, lowers productivity and act as a drag on the economic growth of cities.

This is affecting our low-income workers who work in the city centres the most. For such workers, the commute to work from home is twice as long compared to the average time of commute for all other workers in capital cities. Such workers are forced to face an impossible choice – either longer and costlier commutes into job rich areas (such as the CBD) or accept lower paid or part-time jobs closer to where they live. In other words, they are being forced to make location choices that are likely to reinforce their current income status, thus further entrenching their disadvantage.

By 2030, Australian cities will need to cope with the added pressure of 30 per cent more people, with increasing city density placing more pressure on the need for affordable housing. How can we ensure that affordable housing is provided in locations where it is needed – in locations that provide access to employment opportunities as well as to basic services? How can we enable people to live closer to where they work?

Key Facts

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