Department of the Environment

Archived media releases and speeches

The Hon Tony Burke MP

Minister for Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities

Cheaper rent for students eases pressure on rental market

Media release
9 November 2011

More affordable housing for students in Geelong and Warrnambool is now a step closer with 400 studio apartments to be built under a Gillard Government scheme to provide more properties for rent below the market rate.

Sustainability and Communities Minister Tony Burke and Member for Corangamite Darren Cheeseman today visited Deakin University’s Waurn Ponds campus where new student accommodation will be built under round four of the Government’s National Rental Affordability Scheme.

“Before Labor came to office there were no programs aimed at improving the availability of affordable rental properties,” Mr Burke said.

“The National Rental Affordability Scheme is about addressing the shortfall of affordable rental properties across Australia and helping families afford to rent a home.

“While there are many issues affecting underlying housing affordability, the Gillard Government is making an unprecedented investment to increase the supply of affordable housing across the nation – and families are saving thousands of dollars every year in rent as a result.

“Providing access to affordable housing for students in suburbs surrounding universities can help ease the strain on the local rental market. This program is an important way to free up the rental market and put downward pressure on rents.”

The National Rental Affordability Scheme is being delivered in partnership with state and territory governments.

It works by providing annual financial incentive payments to the business sector and community organisations to construct and rent new dwellings to eligible low and moderate income households at a rate that is at least 20 per cent below the prevailing market rates over 10 years.

The Gillard Government, in partnership with the Victorian Government, will support the construction of more than 400 studio apartments for students – over 300 Geelong and 100 in Warrnambool.

The projects will be delivered by Deakin University and are expected to be available for students to move into at the start of the 2013 academic year. 

Mr Cheeseman said the new rental properties would assist in making it more attractive for young people to study and then stay on to work in the region.

“There is significant unmet demand for accommodation in areas surrounding the university in Geelong and Warrnambool,” Mr Cheeseman said.

“This extra accommodation will provide better access to university courses and support services through the provision of affordable accommodation.

“It will help address housing supply by providing more quality and affordable homes for students who come to our region to study.”

The Gillard Government has committed to support 50,000 NRAS properties, with up to 35,000 dwellings across the country by 30 June 2014, and the remaining 15,000 by 30 June 2016.

The privately-owned developments range from studio apartments right through to large family homes, and are located in areas identified by state and territory government partners where affordable rental accommodation is most needed, particularly in areas with employment, transport, schools and other services available nearby.

Mr Burke also inspected work underway to redevelop a high rise public estate in Fitzroy as part of the Gillard Government’s $450 million Housing Affordability Fund, which is providing more affordable homes for many Australians and supporting new housing supply.

The Gillard Government is providing $159.4 million from the Housing Affordability Fund to redevelop three of Victoria’s inner city high rise public estates in Prahran, Richmond and Fitzroy.

“The Housing Affordability Fund aims to lower the cost of building new homes by tackling the critical supply side issues of the length of time taken to bring new houses to sale and the impact of infrastructure charges,” Mr Burke said.

“This project is an enormous project that is a focal point for changing the face of affordable and social housing in inner city Melbourne.”

The funding, to be used in Stage One of the projects, will act as a catalyst for future stages and facilitate the delivery of 7,364 dwellings across the three sites by 2028.

The total project cost is expected to be over $2.4 billion, with the Australian Government contributing eight per cent ($159.4 million) and the Victorian Government 33 per cent (around $800 million). The balance will come from private developers (just under $1.3 billion or 54 per cent) and Housing Associations (nearly $100 million or 4 per cent).