Unison Housing Research Lab
A unique education and research collaboration between RMIT University and Unison Housing
The Unison Housing Lab ran in partnership with RMIT from 2017 – 2024.
The Unison Housing Research Lab (Lab), was a unique education and research collaboration between RMIT University and Unison Housing, established to inform housing and homelessness best practices and policy. It is the largest program of its kind in Australia.
What does the Lab do?
The Lab's multi-disciplinary research program focuses 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 an integrated teaching program that provides RMIT University students with Australia's first dedicated course on homelessness and housing.
The course offers a cutting-edge, multi-disciplinary approach to education that integrates homelessness theory, policy and practice. The course provides students with the knowledge and resources to support careers in the homelessness and housing sector.
How does the Lab work?
Our work is guided by six principles:
- Policy and practice relevant
- Capacity building.
The Lab's research and education program are undertaken in collaboration with academics who are part of the Housing and Homelessness research cluster, other educational institutions, housing and welfare providers, and policymakers. The Lab focuses on contributing to building Australia’s housing research capacity by supporting a team of PhD students.
Meet the Unison Housing Research Lab team
Professor Guy Johnson
Guy is a Professor of Urban Housing and Homelessness at RMIT University and the inaugural Director of the Unison Housing Research Lab; an industry-led partnership that aims to address the ongoing issue of housing insecurity and homelessness in a way that looks at both the current failings in the housing system and preventative measures to help alleviate disadvantage.
He has been involved in precarious housing and homelessness for more than three decades, initially as a practitioner and for the last 15 years as a researcher. Guy has extensive knowledge of existing homelessness research and current policies and is well acquainted with the housing and homelessness service systems.
Drawing on an innovative mix of methodologies, including longitudinal studies, randomised controlled trials, and in-depth qualitative work, Guy's research investigates theoretical and applied questions relating to the dynamics of homelessness and housing.
His research has contributed extensively to government policy and agency practice that addresses the housing and support needs of disadvantaged and low-income households.
He has co-authored several books, more than 80 reports and refereed papers, and eight book chapters. He has served on numerous Government committees and advisory bodies and is a regular presenter at public and policy forums. He has been awarded grants from the ARC and AHURI and has conducted numerous research projects with industry partners, including The Salvation Army, HomeGround Services, Sacred Heart Mission and Melbourne Central Mission.
Guy is recognised nationally and internationally as a leader in innovative policy and practice-relevant research. In 2014 Guy spent 12 months at the University of Pennsylvania as a Visiting Scholar and was an Honorary Principal Research Fellow at The Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research, The University of Melbourne between 2012-2018.
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.
Godwin is a research fellow at RMIT University/Unison Housing Research Lab, Australia. He is also affiliated with the Melbourne School of Design, the University of Melbourne, where he undertook his doctoral studies in Property Economics. His teaching, research interests and publications are in the broad areas of housing markets and affordability, spatial analytics, real estate development and sustainability, and real estate innovation, with a geographic focus on Africa and Australia.
He has 7+ years of housing and urban development experience and consulted for clients, including the Africa Development Bank, Global Communities, Center for Affordable Housing Finance, Inclusive Business Action Network and Ministry of Works and Housing (Ghana).
At Unison, Godwin applies various econometric and machine learning techniques to understand housing and homelessness better to inform services provision and policy decisions in Victoria, Australia.
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
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'.
The Research Review Series is a Lab initiative. Each month we review a new book or recently published paper. Reviews will be short but informative, encouraging readers to seek the original research.
Click on the links below to dowload the reviews.
The Lab publishes research reports annually to inform housing and homelessness best practices and policies. Research involves an in-depth analysis of administrative data collected by Unison and specific projects developed to address identified needs to drive decision-making and program development.
Click on the links below to dowload the reports.
Think Pieces, opinion pieces and articles
The Lab regularly publishes Think Pieces, opinion pieces and other thought leadership articles. The series critically examines theories and evidence influential in social housing and homelessness.
Click on the links below to download the Think Pieces.
Seminars and videos
Sustaining Social Housing Report Launch and Discussion
Maximising Impact: Baseline report findings
The Myths and Truths of Homelessness