Assessing and Addressing Violations of the Right to Housing in Australia
by Dr. Jessie Hohmann, Associate Professor at the University of Technology Sydney Faculty of Law
Historically, there has been very little discussion of the human right to housing in Australia. Australia ratified the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights in 1975, accepting obligations for the right to housing, but has never incorporated the Covenant rights into domestic law. The government remains hostile to international human rights scrutiny and Australia is an outlier among democracies: at the federal level it has no domestic bill of rights. Opportunities for claiming and enforcing the right to housing are limited.
Perhaps it is for these reasons that the right to housing has rarely featured in advocacy or activism in Australia, nor formed part of the public discourse around housing issues. The reason is not, however, because all Australians already enjoy the right to adequate housing. In fact, there are significant problems in accessing safe, secure and adequate housing in Australia, which have become more prominent in recent years. These issues undermine Australia’s self-projected image as a ‘lucky’ country of high living standards, social equality and fairness.
This talk will assess violations of the right to housing in Australia with a focus on two of the seven elements expressed by the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights as integral to the enjoyment of the right: affordability and habitability. The talk will discuss the ways in which Australia is in contravention of these elements of the right, and consider how greater attention to the right to housing – in public activism and advocacy – might open up new avenues for changing the debate on housing in Australia, and for redress.
About the monthly EVICT talks:
On the third Thursday of every month, we will have a speaker on a topic related to evictions, the right to housing, housing law, the (complex) relation between international law and national law, and/or data science. Each month, we will have a different international speaker (ranging from scholars to practitioners) who will offer fascinating insights into their area of expertise.
For now, the talks will be held online. Because Dr. Hohmann lives in Australia, the talk starts at 10:00 am and ends at 11:00 am (Central European Time, UTC+01:00).
Join this talk: