UnitingSA has welcomed the Federal Government’s $575 million investment into social and affordable housing announced last week, in the hope it will help more South Australians find a home and engage in employment and training.

The announcement was one of 36 outcomes and “concrete plans” the government flagged following the two day Jobs and Skills Summit, held in Canberra. Among other key outcomes was also a commitment to accelerate 465,000 additional fee-free TAFE places, with 180,000 to be delivered next year. The summit also announced an increase to the permanent migration program from 160,000 to 195,000 places.

UnitingSA CEO Jenny Hall said while raising the migration cap and providing skilled training pathways were welcome, the Government’s commitment to funding more social and affordable housing recognised the economic benefits created by improving housing security.

“These skilled workers also need somewhere affordable to live, and none of these measures will have an impact if we don’t find a solution to Australia’s housing crisis,” Ms Hall said.

“Low vacancy rates and soaring rental prices right across South Australia mean many workers just can’t find an affordable place to call home. Finding a permanent, affordable home is critical to helping Australia address productivity and job security.”

The Federal Government said it would finance the $575 million investment through Australian super funds and other sources of private capital.

The new commitment is in addition to the Federal Government’s $10 billion Housing Australia Future Fund, which aims to deliver 30,000 social housing properties over five years.

UnitingSA also backs calls to add personal care workers to the skilled migration occupation list, and ensure the free TAFE places prioritised those looking to enter the aged care, nursing and community mental health workforce.

“As a leading South Australian aged care and community mental health provider, we urgently need skilled workers in these sectors. Guaranteeing that a percentage of these places are offered in these industries needs to form part of these plans,” Ms Hall said.

UnitingSA also praised the summit’s commitment to provide more workforce opportunities for Australians living with disability, First Nations peoples and women.

Aged pensioners were also among the winners from last week’s summit, with a decision to relax the income rules so older Australians could work more hours without affecting their pension payments.