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Creating Family-Friendly Apartments: Addressing the Needs of Families in Australia’s New South Wales

Planning for Family-Friendly Apartment Living in New South Wales

According to the 2016 Census, families with children make up almost 44 percent of all residents living in apartments nationwide. In Australia’s most populous state, New South Wales (NSW), the James Martin Institute (JMI) for Public Policy has proposed the need for well-located, higher-density housing to accommodate families raising children in apartments. This article explores the challenges faced by these families and the importance of designing family-friendly apartment housing.

The Challenges Faced by Families:
In NSW, 68 percent of families live in two-bedroom apartments, with 61 percent having one child and 32 percent having two children, as revealed in the JMI report. Unfortunately, some families face unsuitable living conditions including size and layout issues, inadequate storage, a lack of family-friendly communal spaces, and concerns surrounding health and well-being. These challenges can significantly impact the quality of life for families living in apartments.

The Importance of Family-Friendly Housing:
Failure to address the needs of families in apartment design and delivery will have a profound impact on the success of compact cities. Sophie-May Kerr, the author of the JMI report, emphasizes the need for a shift in thinking from a focus on “housing” to a focus on “homes.” According to Kerr, with one in four apartments in Greater Sydney now housing families with children under 15, it is crucial to prioritize family-friendly housing. This shift requires both the government and private sector to view apartment housing not just as investments or means to increase housing supply but also as essential infrastructure and viable long-term homes.

Recommended Policy Reforms:
To address the challenges faced by families living in apartments, the JMI report recommends several policy reforms. These include the development of family-friendly apartment targets, expansion of government and non-market housing, revision of housing policy guidelines and criteria, support for existing apartment dwellings, and improvements in rental property standards. These reforms aim to create an environment that promotes the well-being and satisfaction of families in apartment living.

Initiatives Underway in NSW:
The report’s recommendations align with initiatives already in progress in NSW. The Minns Labor government plans to accelerate the delivery of new high- and mid-rise homes over the next 15 years by rezoning 39 transportation hubs across the state. Additionally, $520 million has been allocated within the Tier One Accelerated Precincts to ensure that these homes are constructed in desirable locations. NSW Premier Chris Minns acknowledges the need for more well-located homes and aims to make the state affordable for the next generation while providing convenient transport options.

Simultaneous Construction and Policy Reforms:
Ms. Kerr emphasizes that the construction of apartment dwellings that cater to the needs and preferences of diverse households should occur alongside state government plans. This approach ensures that families have access to suitable housing options while promoting sustainable urban development.

Families raising children in apartments face unique challenges related to size, layout, storage, communal spaces, and overall well-being. Addressing these challenges is crucial for the success of compact cities. The JMI report provides valuable insights and recommendations for policy reforms, which include the development of family-friendly apartment targets, expansion of government housing, and improvements in rental property standards. By incorporating these reforms into ongoing initiatives in NSW, the government can create a future where families have access to well-located and family-friendly homes, ensuring a better quality of life for all residents.

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