A recent territory government report has recommended exploring cooperative models of housing as a solution to ACT’s student housing crisis.


The third recommendation advised “that the ACT Government explore developing student co-operative models, along the lines of the Sydney University model, with ANU or UC.”


Titled Accommodation Needs for Tertiary Students in the ACT, the report was issued by the ACT Legislative Assembly Standing Committee on Education, Training and Youth Affairs.


Housing co-operatives are student run housing associations in which members pay rent as well as communal money for food, events and general housekeeping supplies. Students are also collectively responsible for housekeeping duties


“The ACT is potentially an ideal place for an approach to alternative accommodation models for students”, stated the report. “There is a need for innovation and novel solutions to satisfy demand for affordable student housing.”


Members of the Canberra Student Housing Co-op warmly welcomed the report.


“It’s great to see that our student-driven solution, which provides affordable, sustainable and awesome accommodation, is getting the recognition it deserves,” said CSHC director Tom Stayner.


The report comes at a time when there is growing pressure on the ACT government to provide Canberra’s burgeoning student population with affordable and appropriate accommodation.


The Housing Co-operative at Havelock House in Turner started housing six students in October last year, and now accommodates 22 ANU students. But adequate and affordably priced housing is still an issue for many in Canberra’s high-priced property market.


“I really enjoy cooperative living and I hope that the government can do something so that more students can live like this,” CSHC member Fergus Henderson said.


ANUSA has identified housing problems as a major concern for ANU students and has highlighted the importance of community in undergraduate accommodation.


“Students are significantly more satisfied with cooperative housing than they are with commercially run student accommodation,” ANUSA president Dallas Proctor said.


Mr Proctor said co-operative living creates a sense of community that helps students maintain a healthy balance between study and social activity. He added that the low price of rent at the Co-operative would be advantageous for students from disadvantaged backgrounds.


Co-operative living began in Australia in 1982 when a group of Sydney University students converted a dilapidated glass-making factory into a spacious communal house in Newtown, Sydney.


The model was emulated by the CSHC. With the committee’s recent report, it appears that co-operative living will become an increasingly popular form of housing in the future.

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