Affordable Housing Peer Network: Renting in Australia and the role of philanthropy

Tue, 28 Nov 2023 11:00am - 12:00pm AEDT

Renting has recently taken centre stage in Australian politics, spurred on as rents rise across Australia after the COVID-19 lockdown period. The rental moratoriums of lockdown have been hailed as keeping many successfully housed – so what are the problems if they continue? Are there other renting policies from the lockdowns that we want to keep into the future?

This session will provide an overview of renting in Australia. Each State and Territory has distinct laws, some faring better than others, including those with Rental Tenancies Commissioners. With a focus on private rentals, this session will look at the key issues in renting that make Australia unique. We will discuss rent caps, no-grounds evictions, minimum standards, provisions for family violence and the recent ways that renters have tried to assert their rights.  We’ll assess whether the housing market needs ‘mom and pop’ investors and if the emergence of a build to rent industry funded by institutional landlords can take their place. We will review what the future holds for those of us that rent as well as examples of how philanthropy has helped renters negotiate with their landlords.

While a third of Australia is currently renting, most aspire to become owners – indeed our old age pension is predicated on owning a home before you retire. Will renting always be an in between step before owning a home – or is it time to reimagine the Australian Dream? Foremost, what is the role of philanthropy in ensuring rental properties are healthy, close to amenities and affordable?

Please note:

  • Presenters will share their thoughts and views in conversation but will not offer any financial advice.


This event is for Philanthropy Australia Affordable Housing Funders Network members only.

If you want to join this funders network or find out more about the philanthropic work in this area, please reach out to [email protected].


Joel Dignam – CEO, Better Renting

Joel Dignam is the founder of Better Renting. He is a leading community organiser with broad experience in non-profits, unions, and electoral politics in Australia and the UK.  Previously he worked as Network Organiser for Climate Action Network Australia, and he has also worked with United Voice and the Australian Youth Climate Coalition.

Joel has studied “Leadership, Organizing and Action” with Professor Marshall Ganz through Harvard’s Kennedy School of Executive Education, and he holds an Advanced Diploma of Management from the Groupwork Institute of Australia. He is a 2019 Churchill Fellow and the 2020 Gill Owen Scholar.

Cameron Lavery – Head of Community Programs, Homeless Law, Justice Connect

Cameron Lavery is a principal lawyer at Justice Connect where he has worked since 2016. His current role as the head of Community Programs includes leading Justice Connect’s Homeless Law, with a specialist focus on preventing and ending homelessness for Victorians by increasing access to integrated and digital legal support, and advocating for better laws and policies. Prior to starting with Justice Connect, Cameron was the managing lawyer of the LawRight (formerly QPILCH) Homeless Persons’ Legal Clinic for over four years, supervising 20 outreach legal clinics for people facing homelessness across Queensland. Cameron has also worked in private practice and has been actively involved in the wider-community and legal assistance sectors.

Funders network chair

Erin Dolan – Senior Program Manager – Homelessness and Affordable Housing, Lord Mayor’s Charitable Foundation

Erin is an experienced grants program manager, with nearly twenty years’ working in the industry. Her role entails developing and managing granting programs using best practice philanthropy and a focus on systemic change. She is the Chair of Philanthropy Australia’s Affordable Housing Funders Network and writes on issues relating to homelessness and affordable housing:

The Lord Mayor’s Charitable Foundation is an independent community foundation that has supported Melbourne’s charities and the critical issues facing Melbourne since 1923.

The Foundation has worked on addressing homelessness as a priority for over a decade and recognises that the supply of affordable housing is one of the primary causes of homelessness.