The Australian Dream

Paperback - October 2016 - AU $69.95

eBook - October 2016 - eRetailers Google Books Kobo

Pioneering research into how housing tenure affects the life quality of older Australians.

Australia is experiencing a significant demographic shift – the proportion of the population that is aged 65 years and older is increasing substantially and will continue to do so. With this shift comes particular housing challenges for older people. The Australian Dream examines the impacts of housing tenure on older Australians who are solely or primarily dependent on the age pension for their income. Drawing on 125 in-depth interviews, it compares the life circumstances of older social housing tenants, private renters and homeowners – their capacity to pay for their accommodation, how this cost impacts on their ability to lead a decent life, maintain social ties and pursue leisure activities, and how their housing situation affects their health and wellbeing. + Full description

The book considers some key questions: Are older homeowners who are solely dependent on the single age pension managing financially? Are they able to maintain their homes and engage in social activity? How are older private renters who have to pay market rents faring in comparison with older homeowners and social housing tenants? What are the implications of subsidised rents and legally guaranteed security of tenure for older social housing tenants?

Based on a study conducted in Sydney and regional New South Wales, this pioneering research starkly and powerfully reveals the fundamental role that affordable, adequate and secure housing plays in creating a foundation for a decent life for older Australians. It is ideal reading for policymakers and NGOs who are working in the areas of urban studies and ageing, as well as older Australians and those who are nearing retirement.

- Short description


"This is an outstanding research-based analysis of the changing housing circumstances of older Australians. It is clearly written for both specialist and general readership and shows how the continued dominance of market-oriented public policies have reduced the capacity of older renters to live in decent affordable accommodation. The future looks bleak without a substantial change of policy direction."
Emeritus Professor Chris Paris, Ulster University

"Alan Morris’s thoughtful and meticulous study not only provides valuable insights about the housing problems faced by many older Australians but a trenchant critique of contemporary policy-making. The Australian Dream will appeal to all those interested in understanding why government policies often accentuate social inequalities and lead to outcomes that disadvantage the least well off."
Professor Keith Jacobs, University of Tasmania

"Alan Morris's book is an important source of information for policymakers about the outcome of housing decisions and how this could be done better for the future. He finishes with a crescendo of data, tying together important theoretical and empirical studies to prove his point, while also reiterating the argument for the 'right' to decent housing. It is a fitting end to a book that is emotionally heavy, bringing real life experience to the subject, while also clearly defining an important theoretical, legal and moral obligation on the Australian people and legislators to right the problem."
Fracis Brazil, HousingWORKS, December 2016, p. 15

"Morris’s book is an important contribution to Australian literature on population ageing and housing, particularly given the current housing affordability problems being experienced in Australia’s major cities. It is a sober reminder of inequities in the Australian housing system that particularly impact on older Australians who do not own their own homes, or qualify for social housing, and hence is a valuable resource for researchers, students and policy-makers concerned with the housing needs of an ageing population."
Bruce Judd, Housing, Theory and Society, May 2017

"an accessible read of the various aspects of non-shelter outcomes many older Australians experience in recent years. It should prove to be a useful resource to researchers interested in older people’s housing experiences and welfare inequality."
Edgar Liu, Housing Studies, September 2017


Paperback | October 2016 | $ 69.95
ISBN: 9781486301454 | 288 pages | 234 x 153 mm
Publisher: CSIRO Publishing

ePDF | October 2016
ISBN: 9781486301461
Publisher: CSIRO Publishing
Available from eRetailers


  • Unique research in an area that has been hitherto neglected.
  • Provides readers an insight into the everyday lives of older Australians and how their housing situation is a critical determinant of their circumstances.
  • Shows the limitations of the present policy regime as regards housing policy for older Australians.
  • Illustrates the possible future scenarios if present trends in housing affordability and policy persist.


About the author

1. Housing tenure and an ageing society
2. The growing divide: housing policy and older Australians
3. 'You cannot live on that… It's a joke': housing tenure and the capacity to pay for accommodation
4. 'You go past the shops and you look and you can't buy': the cost of accommodation and ability to lead a decent life on the Age Pension
5. 'Exceedingly miserable and bloody cold': accommodation and housing tenure
6. 'My social life is down the drain': housing tenure, social ties and leisure
7. 'I really have thought this can't go on': housing tenure and health
8. 'I won’t be here that long because they are waiting for the right price': landlord-tenant relations
9. The increasing residualisation of social housing and its implications for older tenants
10. Conclusions: Where to from here?
Appendix A: Methodology employed in the study
Appendix B: Profile of interviewees


Alan Morris is a research professor in the Institute for Public Policy and Governance at the University of Technology Sydney. His main areas of research have been in housing policy, housing tenure and older households and social policy.