Topic: What next in housing for an ageing Australia?

Day: Thursday 22 October 2020

Time:  11:00am-11:30am AEDT


For many years in Australia, housing and support for older people has been influenced by ‘ageing in place’, a key policy aspiration. Also used by other ageing societies, the term offers a useful handle when balancing an understood social preference to age in housing settings of choice, with the rising cost of residential-type aged care. As a policy stance however, it presumes broadscale access for older people to physically suitable, securely tenured and affordable housing.
Academic and grey literature indicate home ownership amongst older people is falling, and pressure is increasing on securing rental tenures because of financial burdens and other personal circumstances. Literature also suggests that much of Australia’s housing stock, and the environments in which it exists, do not readily support ageing. Compounding this is an increasing rejection, by baby boomers and cohorts following, of traditional housing models purposefully designed for older people. Without readily available, appropriate and stable housing, growing numbers of older people may possibly look to a public resource, considered to be already under stress by some, to fix accommodation and allied well-being issues.
How can this shortage of appropriate housing be alleviated? What might be next in housing for Australia and its ageing population?
By exploring a contemporary conceptualised ecology of housing and support in Australia, my research sought to speculate on the nature of potential new housing typologies for Australia’s ageing population that aim to be physically appropriate, socially supportive and financially accessible.
The study revealed a desire and a need for new urban and suburban based housing typologies, organised around collective living and mutual support, as possible responses to the compounding issues at hand. Although completed just prior to the COVID 19 pandemic, and the questions this has likely raised about the nature of congregative care accommodation for older people moving forward, the study offers a pertinent view of contemporary forces shaping housing and support for older people in Australia. It further speculates on 12 performance principles that may shape potential new housing typologies for the future. This research also aims to highlight barriers to innovation in new housing typologies in the present political and social structures as well as push this important conversation along towards new outcomes.


Matthew is an architect and researcher with over 25 years industry experience. He has recently completed a PhD at QUT looking into the potential nature of housing in the future for Australia’s ageing population. He is a member of Peddle Thorp’s Integrated Living Advisory Board seeking to explore and design new ways of independent living for the future. He continues to undertake sessional teaching into Design School courses at QUT. Prior to his PhD studies he was a Partner at ThomsonAdsett where he headed the Seniors Living Group for the practice nationally. He has extensive experience in a range of architectural developments and phases in a number of Australian states and the UK. He has particular skill in the planning and delivery of residential aged care and retirement communities. He is interested in strategic planning for Australia’s ageing population as well as developing new housing typologies into prototypes for further research and review.