As the closest level of government to the community, Australia’s 537 city, regional and rural councils have an important role to play in ending our country’s homelessness crisis. But to date, only a few have the resources, knowledge, systems, or the finances to make a real difference.

This is because Australia’s Commonwealth, State and Territory governments have held most of the policy and financial levers, leaving local government out of the picture. However, as costs of living rise and housing pressures increase, more communities are turning to their local councils to take action.

During Homelessness Week 2023, the Council of Capital City Lord Mayors (CCCLM) and Local Government Professionals Australia (LG Pro) hosted an inaugural national event – Local Government Community of Practice: Housing and Homelessness.

With more than 120 participants from over 40 Councils and 15 allied associations gathering at Melbourne Town Hall on August 7-8, this was the first time that Australian local government practitioners, from capital cities, urban, regional and rural locations had come together at an event to share knowledge, information and best practice about housing and homelessness responses.

Focusing on the unique experience of local government, the event provided an opportunity for leaders and practitioners working across diverse roles to present, share their experiences and knowledge and plan for future action.

Through presentations, panel discussions, sharing best practice case studies and participating in group activities, participants planned for a future where local government takes a seat at the national table in homelessness and housing responses. Participants considered what action councils can take in in their own areas as well as how, as a group, the sector can participate and influence state and national policy and practice.

Importantly, this event took a vital first step towards establishing a national community of practice, focused on the unique role that local government can play to end homelessness in Australia.

The report highlighting the conversation and outcomes from the Community of Practice that took place on 7-8 August 2023 is available here.