After a national co-operative housing roundtable in the Federal Parliament and another in the NSW Parliament, a European co-op housing study tour, a major submission to the housing and homelessness taskforce, media engagement and a concerted advocacy push in partnership with BCCM’s housing and finance members, the model of co-operative housing is back in the federal housing plan.

“The hand down by the Federal Minister for Housing, the Hon Julie Collins MP, of the State of the Housing System Report (2024) marks a milestone in our advocacy efforts to reinsert co-operative housing as a mainstream housing pathway,” said BCCM CEO Melina Morrison.

The State of the Housing System 2024 (report) is the first annual report of the National Housing Supply and Affordability Council (Council). It was presented to the Minister for Housing and released on 3 May 2024, as required under the National Housing Supply and Affordability Council Act 2023.

The report acknowledges the housing journey of many people and includes housing co-operatives as an emerging form of tenure (page 16), and cites the definition of a housing co-operative as: “ … a business that has shared ownership by its residents, where the goal is affordable housing rather than profit.”

Co-operatives are also included, together with options like shared equity, build to rent and rent to buy, as schemes providing new ownership models that address the imbalance of housing supply and demand for renters and buyers (page 60).

On receiving the landmark report, Minister Collins said: “This is a national challenge that needs national action and everyone working together.”

“Co-operatives and mutuals have a long tradition responding to critical needs and market failure. In relation to housing, the sector has formed new models such as housing co-operatives, building societies and credit unions around this very need. Billions of dollars of assets on our balance sheets represents intergenerational wealth created through a model of helping people into housing. But our current housing crisis threatens wealth transfer as never before,” said Morrison.

From our study tour of European co-op housing systems we have seen first-hand how to scale our homegrown housing models – after private ownership, private rental, social and community housing – co-operative housing could be a fourth pillar of housing as it is in Copenhagen, Vienna and Zurich. With mutual capital funding and bank lending, we have much to offer in response to the current crisis.

The BCCM is now developing a 3–5 Year Affordable Housing Strategy to ensure the mutual sector has coherent strategies to influence housing policy further.