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Spotlight on housing, water and energy at SACOSS Conference

SACOSS' Living Without the Basics Conference at the Adelaide Convention Centre today cast a light on a range of topical issues relating to housing, water and energy efficiency, their intersection, and some of the impacts for health, well-being and costs of living. 

A conference highlight has been the launch of a SACOSS-commissioned report on improving drinking water services for regional and remote communities in SA (Falling through the gaps), and preliminary findings from SACOSS energy efficiency research. The Conference agenda covered a range of housing-related areas which are extra topical now, including a panel session on the state of rental housing in South Australia. 
"We saw in the early days of the COVID crisis that with effort we can take huge steps towards eliminating homelessness, but issues of homelessness and affordable housing remain a key concern for South Australians struggling on low incomes," stated SACOSS CEO Ross Womersley.

"Our conference sessions focussed particularly on renters, with discussion of changes needed in the rental market, the energy efficiency of rental housing, and the role of public housing in the housing market."
"Housing is important, not just for basic shelter, but because access to adequate and affordable housing underpins health, family wellbeing, social connection and employment opportunities. It needs to be a major priority for government and the community," he stated.
Energy efficiency is another area explored in the conference, and an important one. Public and private rentals in South Australia are too often cold in winter and hot in summer. Poor rental housing increases risks to health and wellbeing for residents and people need to use more heating and cooling to maintain comfort levels in their home. This increases energy costs for people who do not have the benefit of owning their own home, or mitigating costs through the use of solar or energy efficiency retrofits. 

The conference discussed the disclosure of energy efficiency ratings at point of sale or rental, to ensure there is transparency in the condition of rental housing across the state. Another topic discussed was minimum energy efficiency standards for rental housing, and improved access to programs that can improve thermal comfort and energy efficiency of rental homes.

"Improved access is needed to programs that can increase thermal comfort and energy efficiency of rental homes," stated SACOSS CEO Ross Womersley. "Disclosure of energy efficiency ratings would also assist in ensuring that there is transparency in the condition of rental housing across the state."

These are just some of the areas explored at the conference, which provided a range of insights into some of the challenges being faced, and some practical steps that can assist in reducing inequality and supporting people to have what we all want - a home we can afford, affordable energy to power our homes and keep warm in winter, and access to the most fundamental of human needs – water. 

19 May 2021

Eva O'Driscoll, Communications Coordinator:
8305 4227 (business hours) / eva@sacoss.org.au

Published Date: 
Wednesday, 19 May 2021