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A home of your own

In the 1950s about half of all houses in Australia were owner built. Land on the fringes of cities and country towns was relatively cheap and there were few extra costs, especially if the roads were still unpaved and sewage connection unavailable. Prior to concrete slab technology, which became ubiquitous in the 1970s, people often had the skill base to build a basic house, often just a couple of rooms at first, usually with some help from friends and family. Home ownership peaked in 1966 at 71 per cent. In recent years, with rapidly rising property values, many households have been unable to save enough for a deposit. After the Second World War both State Government and the Australian Government funded housing commissions, providing modestly priced rental housing in the cities and towns. Much of this housing was subsequently sold off.

Today, Queensland has the lowest proportion of public and social housing of any state.

The apartment industry, which has flourished since early this century, is primarily driven by developers and investors. Tenants have little ability to alter an apartment for their own needs, whether that might be to accommodate young children, the disabled or the elderly. High rise apartment blocks have been criticised because of lack of open space provision, especially for children. And almost all modern blocks are air conditioned, making them heavy users of electricity. Air conditioning provides freedom from higher temperatures, but not from climate change.

The freedom to own your own home, once regarded as an essential Australian aspiration is falling out of the grasp of many.

House being jacked up for removal, ca1959. A house being lifted with machinery.
A wood-clad church with archway windows is being transported on an oversize trailer. Cars typical of the 1950s drive on the dirt to avoid it. Two children are riding on the open trailer of a 1960s truck.
Home designs, 1954  Government Print Queensland. Housing Commission  John Oxley Library, SLQ  MMS ID 99183129695802061
Young children and their parents play in a blow up paddle pool with a garden hose. Members of the Rolley and Croker families cooling off on Christmas Day in Beaudesert, Queensland, 1972.
Woman mowing the lawn with an electric lawnmower. In the background is a water tank and the suburban skyline.