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A history of public housing in Western Australia: The workers' homes board and state housing commission: Precursors of Homeswest

Sharp, Roma (1993) A history of public housing in Western Australia: The workers' homes board and state housing commission: Precursors of Homeswest. Honours thesis, Murdoch University.

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Public housing in Australia and elsewhere has been, until recently, a neglected area of historical research. The social importance of housing is undeniable and, as such, a history of public housing in Western Australia is well overdue.

This history of public housing in Western Australia is essentially an examination of two organisations: the Workers' Homes Board, established in 1912, and its post-World War II successor, the State Housing Commisson, since 1985 trading as Homeswest. The thesis is not so much an institutional history as an account of the key factors which shaped the nature of public housing in this State: demand for workforce housing by industry; demand for housing from people with low incomes; and the need for the state to encourage population and economic growth. Material factors, particularly in the immediate post-World War II period, have also impacted on the provision of public housing, as has the physical size and climatic variation of the State.

This thesis provides evidence of the use of public housing as an instrument for social control in Western Australia, which is associated with the notion of housing as a reward, rather than a right. However, evidence is also provided to demonstrate that the policies and activities of both the Workers' Homes Board and the State Housing Commission were shaped by the agency of their clients, as well as by community values and opinions.

The state's role in the provision of public housing m Western Australia has been found to have been largely positive. It has contributed to economic growth and resource development, provided infrastructure to attract industry, attracted migrants in the post war period with the promise of housing, and collaborated with other governments to decentralise a Perth-based bureaucracy. Most significantly, it has provided affordable housing for the State's low income earners and their families.

Item Type: Thesis (Honours)
Murdoch Affiliation(s): School of Social Sciences
Notes: Note to the author: If you would like to make your thesis openly available on Murdoch University Library's Research Repository, please contact: Thank you.
Supervisor(s): UNSPECIFIED
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