‘I Really Have Thought This Can't Go on': Housing Tenure and the Health of Older Australians Dependent on the Age Pension

Wednesday, 13 July 2016: 14:45
Location: Hörsaal BIG 2 (Main Building)
Oral Presentation
Alan MORRIS, Institute for Public Policy and Governance, University of Technology Sydney, Australia
Although life expectancy is generally increasing there is a growing consensus that the affordability, adequacy and security of tenure of housing  are key factors determining the health status of older people. The importance of affordable and secure housing for ‘ontological security’ is well-established.  In the case of older (65 plus)  Australians, the minimal regulation of the private rental sector means that older  private renters are generally in a very different  position to older social housing tenants or homeowners. Older private renters often have minimal security of occupancy and the cost of their accommodation often accounts for a substantial proportion of their budget.  This study draws on 125 in-depth interviews with older homeowners, private renters and social housing tenants dependent mainly or solely on the age pension.  It examines the impacts of the cost of accommodation and security of occupancy and  illustrates  that the financial stress and minimal security of occupancy experienced by most older private renters potentially have serious health implications. Besides precipitating substantial anxiety, the high cost of their accommodation made it difficult for older private renters to look after themselves adequately. Most of the private renters felt that they had limited or negligible control over their present and future housing circumstances.  In contrast, the older homeowners and social housing tenants because of the low cost of their accommodation and guaranteed security of tenure could usually control their budgets and their present and future housing situation. The study shows how their housing situation generally laid the basis for a positive outlook. Many felt that their home and their status as outright homeowners or social housing tenants were absolutely central to their health and capacity to lead a decent life. They felt secure and in control.