18 March 2024

Opinion piece: Help to Buy reforms will help provide security


Published in The Daily Advertiser

When Labor came to office in 2022, we inherited significant housing challenges.

Among them was the fact that older women had become the fasting growing demographic among homeless Australians.

We knew we had a big job ahead of us, and that’s why the Albanese Labor Government has been investing in the most significant housing reforms in a generation.

And importantly, we’ve been placing women at the core of our policy and economic agenda, and making the reforms that mean systems and structures also work better for women.

We want women right across the country to have a safe and affordable place to call home.

That’s why we fought so hard for the Housing Australia Future Fund, our $10 billion investment in social and affordable housing.

In its first five years alone, we intend for the Fund to build 4,000 homes for women and children fleeing domestic and family violence, and older women on low incomes who are at risk of homelessness.

Investment returns from the Fund will also fund $100 million for crisis and transitional housing options for women and children fleeing domestic and family violence, and older women on low incomes who are at risk of homelessness.

We also want to make sure more women have the keys to their own home. It wasn’t that long ago that women weren’t able to secure their own mortgage without a male guarantor, and were excluded from government homeowner grants.

Since the federal election in 2022, the Albanese Labor Government has helped more than 52,000 women into home ownership through the Home Guarantee Scheme.

This includes more than 16,000 single women.

Last year, we significantly expanded the eligibility criteria for the Home Guarantee Scheme, opening all guarantees up to non‑first home buyers who haven’t owned a property in Australia in the last ten years.

We wanted to ensure that Australian women who have fallen out of homeownership – often due to financial crisis or relationship breakdown – weren’t also falling through the cracks left by the former government.

As a result, 311 women have been able to take advantage of this change.

We’re proud of the support we’ve provided so far, and we want to help even more women into the security of home ownership through our Help to Buy shared equity program.

Help to Buy will support low‑ and middle‑income Australians who are struggling to buy their own home save up to 40 per cent on their mortgage.

Eligible participants will only need a two per cent deposit, and the government will support them with an equity stake of up to 40 per cent for new homes and up to 30 per cent for existing homes.

This means a lower deposit and lower ongoing repayments for tens of thousands of Australians.

And it means the security of home ownership for women like Annie from Brisbane. She told me she and her husband have enough money to buy their own home, but only with the support that Help to Buy could provide.

And Help to Buy will mean security for women like Sandra, from Melbourne. She told me that she’s never been able to save enough for a deposit – a hurdle that Help to Buy would allow her to clear.

Help to Buy will help lifelong renters become home owners.

And it will give hope to young people like Gemma, a student from Canberra who told me “Help to Buy would give me something to look forward to, something to work towards”.

We know this policy can help people, and so do the experts.

National Shelter has described it as “critical, particularly for older women facing housing challenges following a family separation when there had been joint ownership”.

It’s one of the reasons why the Liberals and Greens should stop standing in the way of Help to Buy and support it in the Senate.

It will be life changing and help tens of thousands of Australians grasp the great Australian dream.