eCite Digital Repository

Ideal bureaucracy? The application and assessment process for social housing in three Australian states


Morris, A and Robinson, C and Idle, J and Lilley, D, Ideal bureaucracy? The application and assessment process for social housing in three Australian states, International Journal of Housing Policy pp. 1-22. ISSN 1949-1247 (2022) [Refereed Article]

Copyright Statement

© 2022 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.

DOI: doi:10.1080/19491247.2022.2132460


Social housing in Australia is an extremely scarce resource in high demand. This scarcity makes how applicants are prioritised for this resource a crucially important process with significant consequences. We examine the assessment process in three Australian states, New South Wales, Queensland and Tasmania. In all three, the processes in place are premised on the assumption that they allow for the fair assessment and allocation of social housing to those most in need. Drawing on interviews with 40 informants with expert knowledge of the application process, we examine the three different approaches. We use Weber’s concept of ideal type bureaucracy to assist and frame the analysis. A central premise of Weber’s analysis is that to avoid corruption, discretion in the making of decisions should not be a feature of a bureaucracy. We conclude that although the assessment processes in place are rule-bound, in many instances discretion is essential and beneficial for the applicant. Further, we demonstrate (in line with Weber’s analysis), that the expertise of assessment workers is key. However, there is limited transparency and appealing a decision is possible but can be a challenging task.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:social housing, housing support, housing register, waiting, bureaucracy
Research Division:Human Society
Research Group:Sociology
Research Field:Urban sociology and community studies
Objective Division:Law, Politics and Community Services
Objective Group:Community services
Objective Field:Homelessness and housing services
UTAS Author:Robinson, C (Associate Professor Catherine Robinson)
ID Code:154130
Year Published:2022
Funding Support:Australian Research Council (LP190100074)
Web of Science® Times Cited:1
Deposited By:Sociology and Criminology
Deposited On:2022-11-01
Last Modified:2022-12-23

Repository Staff Only: item control page