Homeshare: It’s on for young and old

Australians are getting older and almost all of us want to live in our homes for as long as we can. But can we afford the services that will keep us living at home?

Research released today by The Australia Institute shows that around 80 per cent of Australians are worried that they won’t be able to afford aged care services to keep them in their own homes. (see figure 1 below)

Report author and Director of Research Rod Campbell will present the findings to the 4th World Homeshare Congress today in Melbourne. The Congress is examining the intergenerational challenges of ageing populations, housing affordability, social and disability services and global policy responses.

Among lower income earners over 40 per cent are ‘very concerned’, with another 37 per cent ‘concerned’. Even among people earning up to $150,000 per year 82 per cent of survey respondents felt concerned or very concerned about the costs of staying at home.

concern age care poll

Against this concern about the affordability of aging at home, today’s report assesses the economics of Homeshare programs.

“Homeshare programs match older householders who live alone with younger homesharers,” report author and Director of Research at The Australia Institute, Rod Campbell said.

“Homesharers live with householders rent free and in return keep the householders company and perform ten hours per week of basic chores.

“It is a major benefit for young people struggling with rental markets, but more importantly, this is a way to help older Australian’s continue to live independently in their own homes. 

“The concern about affording retirement care is palpable. Even the highest income earners are worried, with only 55% of people earning over $200,000 salaries confident they could afford the services they will need. 

“In addition to the powerful economic argument to support more Homeshare programs outlined in this report, there is also an excellent opportunity for intergenerational engagement between young adults and our mature citizens,” Campbell said. 

Homeshare programs already operate in several Australian cities. One in Melbourne’s south east has been running for 15 years. It has generated a net economic benefit of $11 million. A newer program in Canberra has provided a net benefit of $600,000 in just over two years.

Partly due to the success of Homeshare in Melbourne, this year’s Homeshare World Congress is being held in the city.

“While Australia has concentrated on implementing the Homeshare model in the aged care and disability sectors, there is much to learn from our international colleagues who have broadened the reach of their programs into student housing, social housing and an amazingly creative homesharing pilot with homesharers being offered free accommodation in a nursing home. This speaks volumes for the economic and social benefits of homesharing,” Homeshare Australia President Shirley Anderson said.

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