No place like home: homelessness in Australia and the right to adequate housing

No place like home: homelessness in Australia and the right to adequate housing Journal Article

Australian Journal of Human Rights

  • Author(s): McRae, R., Nicholson, D.
  • Published: 2004
  • Volume: 10

Abstract: Australia has long been known as the ‘lucky country’. In recent years, most Australians have enjoyed the benefits of repeated budget surpluses, a generally high standard of living and a consistent and reliable application of the rule of law. But on any given night, around 100,000 people in Australia are homeless (Chamberlain and MacKenzie 2003). This is despite Australia’s international commitment, made almost 30 years ago, to ensure that its population is adequately housed. Rhetorical gestures are made towards the need for a ‘social safety net’ to support homeless Australians, but there remains a distinct reluctance to frame the discussion of homelessness in the language of rights. Governments repeatedly point to the vagueness of economic, social and cultural rights, and hint at the inevitability of homelessness. In this article, we examine whether the response of state and federal governments to the question of homelessness can be said to represent a violation of Australia’s obligations in respect of the right to adequate housing under the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. Following a brief discussion of the historical development of economic, social and cultural rights, we analyse the normative content of these rights, particularly as they relate to developed, industrialised states such as Australia. Next, we consider Australia’s specific obligations in relation to the right to adequate housing and how this right relates, in broad terms, to homelessness. Finally, we evaluate the extent to which Australia is fulfilling these specific obligations.

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Suggested Citation
McRae, R., Nicholson, D., 2004, No place like home: homelessness in Australia and the right to adequate housing, Volume:10, Journal Article, viewed 10 August 2022, https://www.nintione.com.au/?p=4354.

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