Unison Housing Research Lab 

A unique education and research collaboration between RMIT University and Unison Housing

The Unison Housing Research Lab is a unique education and research collaboration between RMIT University and Unison Housing, established to inform housing and homelessness best practice and policy. It is the largest program of its kind in Australia.

Funded by Unison Housing and RMIT University, the Lab is located in the Social and Global Studies Centre, one of two research centres in the School of Global, Urban and Social Studies (GUSS) at RMIT University.

The Lab comprises six dedicated research staff led by Prof Guy Johnson, Dr Juliet Watson and Dr Sarah Taylor. The team undertakes innovative policy and practice-relevant housing research informed by the experiences of services users and providers.

The Lab also delivers Australia’s first dedicated homelessness and housing course, at RMIT University. 

 

What does the Lab do?

Research program

The Lab’s multi-disciplinary research program is focused on creating new empirical and conceptual knowledge about:

  • What actions can be taken to develop social housing that creates vibrant communities, improves tenancy sustainability and satisfaction, and maximises their impact on tenants’ social, economic, and health outcomes
  • The effectiveness of homelessness program interventions
  • Approaches that help translate research into policy and practice

The team oversees work undertaken under three priority research areas: Sustainability and satisfaction, Program Evaluation, and Data-driven decision making.

Australia's first homelessness and housing course

The Lab developed and delivers a program of integrated teaching that provides RMIT students with Australia's first dedicated course on homelessness and housing.

The course offers a cutting edge and multi-disciplinary approach to education that integrates homelessness theory, policy and practice. The course provides students with the knowledge and resources to support careeers in the homelessness and housing sector.

 

How does the Lab work?

Our work is guided by six principles:

  1. Responsive
  2. Critical
  3. Policy and practice relevant
  4. Excellence
  5. Collaborative
  6. Capacity building

The Lab’s research and education program are undertaken in collaboration with academics who are part of Housing and Homelessness research cluster and other educational institutions, as well as housing and welfare providers and policy makers.

The Lab is focused on contributing to building Australia’s housing research capacity by supporting a team of three PhD students.

 

Meet the Unison Housing Research Lab team

Portrait_Prof-Guy-Johnson

Professor Guy Johnson

Guy is a Professor of Urban Housing and Homelessness at RMIT University and the Director of the Unison Housing Research Lab.

Guy has been involved in the area of precarious housing and homelessness for over three decades, initially as a practitioner and more recently as a researcher. Guy has extensive knowledge of existing homelessness research, current homelessness policies, and is well acquainted with the homelessness service system.

 

Portrait_Dr-Juliet-Watson

Dr Juliet Watson

 Dr Juliet Watson is a Senior Lecturer in Housing and Homelessness and the Deputy Director of the Unison Housing Research Lab at RMIT University.

Juliet has extensive research, teaching and practice experience in the areas of homelessness, gendered violence and youth. Her book, Youth Homelessness and Survival Sex: Intimate Relationships and Gendered Subjectivities, was released by Routledge in 2018. Juliet is on the executive committee of the Australian Women's and Gender Studies Association.

 

Portrait_Dr-Sarah-Taylor

Dr Sarah Taylor

Sarah is a postdoctoral research fellow in the Unison Housing Lab.

Sarah has over fifteen years’ experience working with Geographic Information Systems, databases, software development, and mixed methods research. As part of her work in the Unison Housing Lab she manages the Maximising Impact longitudinal study of 170 social housing tenants. She has also published on service use patterns at a high-volume homelessness service, and on different forms of rooming houses.

         

Portrait_Fiona-Carey

Fiona Carey

Fiona is a PhD Candidate within the Unison Housing Research Lab at RMIT University.

Fiona has a background working in social work, housing and homelessness. Her research looks at ontological security and place-making within community housing settings, and how this relates to tenant well-being.

 

Portrait_Abigail-Lewis

Abigail Lewis

Abigail is a PhD Candidate within the Unison Housing Research Lab at RMIT University.

Abigail is a policy research and advocacy professional whose work focuses on social policy, social security, social housing, and social justice. 

 

Portrait_Susan-McCallum

Susan McCallum

Susan is a PhD Candidate within the Unison Housing Research Lab at RMIT University.

Susan is a social worker with 20 years of experience in a range of non-government and educational settings. Her research looks at the process of settling in and making a home in social housing, and the relationship between housing and a 'good life'.

 

Research reports, Think Pieces and Seminars

Research reports

The Unison Housing Research Lab publishes research reports every year, to inform housing and homelessness best practice and policy. Research involves in-depth analysis of administrative data collected by Unison Housing and specific projects developed to address identified need to drive decision-making and program development.

Click on the links below to dowload the reports.

Diversity and Complexity: homelessness in Melbourne's west (Aug 2018)

Who stays, who leaves and why? Occupancy patterns at Unison Housing 2014-2016 (Feb 2019)

What's changed? Comparing occupancy patterns at Unison 2014-2016 (March 2019)

Service use patterns at a high-volume homelessness service - Executive Summary (Sept 2019)

Service use patterns at a high-volume homelessness service - Full Report (Sept 2019)

Staying Home? Examining longer-term housing outcomes of the Private Rental Access Program - Executive Summary (June 2020)

Staying Home? Examining longer-term housing outcomes of the Private Rental Access Program - Full Report (June 2020)

Maximising Impact: Baseline results from a longitudinal study of new tenants in social housing - Report Summary (Nov 2020)

Maximising Impact: Baseline results from a longitudinal study of new tenants in social housing - Full Report (Nov 2020)

Sustaining Social Housing. Profiles and Patterns (May 2021)

 

Articles, Opinion and Think Pieces

The Lab reguarly publishes Think Pieces, opinion pieces and other thought leadership articles. The series critically examines theories and evidence that are influential in the areas of social housing and homelessness.

Click on the links below to download the Think Pieces.

Does Place Matter? (Dec 2017)

Does tenue mix work? (March 2018)

Creating Community: Tenant and Staff Perceptions of Formal and Informal Processes in Mixed‑tenure Community Housing (July 2020)

Tenancy Sustainment: Four Research Projects at Unison Housing (July 2020)

Making and Unmaking a Rooming House: Unison and ‘Marj Oke’ (July 2020)

The great disruption: How COVID-19 might help us to end homelessness (Aug 2020)

Staying in Place: Social Housing and Support Services (April 2021)

 

Seminars and videos

Sustaining Social Housing Report Launch and Discussion

 

 

Maximising Impact: Baseline report findings

 

   
         

The Myths and Truths of Homelessness

       

 

Parliamentary Submissions

Submission to the Parliamentary Inquiry into homelessness in Victoria (February 2020)

Submission to the Federal Parliamentary Inquiry into homelessness in Australia (June 2020)