Australian Dream. Justin Dowswell, 31, never thought he’d bunk up in his childhood home. A steady job in Sydney and a decade of renting suddenly led to moving back in with his folks, a two-hour trip away. “It’s humbling,” he says, knowing it’s better than being homeless. But it’s a far cry from the dream he grew up with.
Dreams vs Reality
The Great Australian Dream? It’s not just a vague idea like the American Dream. It’s about owning a house on a small piece of land, seen as the ultimate success marker and a ticket to a better life. It’s woven into Australia’s identity, shaping the nation.
Out of Reach
For generations, this dream worked. Migrants flocked in for that promise, finding success. But for today’s folks, it’s a distant fantasy. Government policies treated housing like an investment, not a right. Now, finding a stable, affordable place to rent feels like winning the lottery.
Michael Fotheringham says everything’s gone wrong with Aussie housing. Buying a house? Ridiculously pricey – nine times the average household income now, triple what it was 25 years back. In major cities like Sydney and Melbourne, it’s an affordability disaster. Sydney ranks as the second least affordable city globally, just after Hong Kong.
Dreams on Hold
People like Chelsea Hickman, 28, thought they’d own a house by now. Despite a decade of hard work, she can’t afford to rent an apartment solo. Even those who managed to buy fear falling off the property ladder with rising interest rates.
While some Australians cheer as house prices soar, it’s a tough pill for others. Chelsea feels frustrated, seeing people owning multiple houses while she just wants one. Millions are stuck renting, and the situation there isn’t any better – vacancies are low, rents are sky-high, and living conditions are appalling.
No Safety Net
Social housing, once a refuge for low-income earners, isn’t an option for most. The demand is high, homes are scarce, and waitlists are years long. And with natural disasters and climate changes wrecking houses, more parts of Australia are becoming uninhabitable.
Homeless or Overcrowded
Many are on the edge of homelessness or living in crowded conditions. Housing support charities are handing out tents. Families are crammed into spare rooms, while some parents dip into retirement funds to buy apartments for their kids – a sign of how dire the situation is.
Changing the Dream
Government policies over decades led to this housing crisis. Tax breaks encouraged house buying for profit, shifting housing’s purpose from living space to wealth creation. Alan Kohler argues that changing this mindset is tough but necessary.
A Call for Change
Current policies fall short of fixing this mess. Though the government’s taking some steps – offering schemes for buyers, promising new houses, and tweaking immigration policies – advocates say it’s not enough.
The Lost Dream
Australia’s once-prized egalitarianism seems lost. Hard work and education don’t guarantee wealth anymore. It’s about where you live and what you inherit. The nation’s identity, built on a fair go for all, seems shattered. As Chelsea Hickman sums it up, “It’s rigged.”