The role of place in policy responses to address disadvantage experienced by social housing residents

Ms Ella Horton1

1University Of Tasmania, Hobart, Australia


Disadvantage in Australia is geographically distributed (Randolph & Tice, 2017), and there is increasing evidence that outlying suburbs with high concentrations of social housing experience even higher rates. Suburbs such as these, in which there is often quantifiable and visible associations between social housing, poverty and place, are discursively problematised (Doney, McGuirk & Mee, 2013), stigmatised (Verdouw & Flanagan 2019) and become political and policy issues (Peel, 2003). Despite the complexity of spatial disadvantage, place and associated social housing have been constructed as the source of the problem by scholars and policymakers (Darcy, 2010). This rhetoric underpins place-based initiatives, which selectively apply interventions to physical places where disadvantage is perceived to exist. It is unclear as to whether or not place-based interventions can address disadvantage, however they remain a popular policy approach in Australia (Pawson, Hulse & Cheshire, 2015). Reflections on the role of ‘place’ – how it is understood, defined, experienced, sensed and constructed – by residents and policymakers throughout the lifecycle of a place-based intervention, and its role in determining its level of success is the focus of this presentation. This will inform a case study of a place-based initiative in the neighbourhood of Bridgewater/Gagebrook, Tasmania.


Ella Horton, PhD Candidate in the School of Social Sciences, research interests include spatial disadvantage and social housing.


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