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How Authentic Co-design can help Governments rise to the challenge of delivering more social housing

Updated: Dec 2, 2022

Providing better social and affordable housing is a key issue for Governments across Australia right now but one that comes with its fair share of challenges. As governments are investing in redeveloping public housing estates (by increasing density or housing mix as well as including standards) there are often several competing views that can make for a challenging and drawn-out process.

Image: Eric Staudenmaier

Some of these views we see occurring regularly are:

  • Existing tenants who feel that despite substantial disruption to their life (e.g. relocating during construction) they will come back to reduced amenities such as public space and few gains once the development is complete.

  • Working with a developer who is required to provide social housing due to policy but doesn’t believe it is financially viable and does not have an incentive to do it well, for example, they perceive tenure blind housing as a risk for their overall profit margins.

  • Residents living nearby these estates are often reluctant to embrace greater densities and additional public housing; believing it will negatively impact the valuations of their housing.

  • Future tenants who are in desperate need of housing and are negatively impacted by the slow process and pushback from other parties mentioned.

These impacts can often leave delivery teams, communications staff and community engagement staff struggling to move forward and make progress. This is where Authentic Co-design can help, by fostering an understanding of the complexity of the task; facilitating an appreciation for different perspectives and the imperatives of making progress on goals that all these stakeholders believe are important.

Authentic Co-design processes facilitate empathy for different perspectives and draw upon both tensions and diverse aspirations to work toward innovative responses. It expects more of people; not less. It results in all players being wiser as a result of the process. Being a valued part of the process means that plans are more likely to be implemented. There is room to consider how public housing tenants can play the role of ambassadors, learn new skills, and generate opportunities beyond the construction of new housing.

If you are struggling to deliver a new housing project, or want to plan now to make things easier later then it’s the perfect time to learn more about co-design through our effective and self-paced courses:

Or if you work for a government department struggling with these challenges, get in touch via and we can discuss a co-design training package suitable for you and your team.

Max Hardy


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