Anti-Poverty Week Webinar ‘Home is where the heart is’: the link between poverty, housing and health

ANTI-POVERTY WEEK WEBINAR ‘Home is where the heart is’: the link between poverty, housing and health


Thursday 15 October 2020
12:30 pm – 1:30 pm (AEDT)


Via Zoom


$25 or Friends of the Alliance can register for free
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The facts

Secure and affordable housing is critical to overcoming many of the economic, social and chronic disease challenges facing rural and remote Australians, particularly chronic diseases closely related to housing such as rheumatic heart disease.

People in rural and remote Australia have lower incomes, lower net household worth, higher instances of risk factors for poor health, higher levels of chronic disease, accidents and injury, and reduced life expectancy.

A key challenge for people living in poverty is access to appropriate, secure and affordable housing. Living in inappropriate, poor and insecure housing leads to many adverse health outcomes related to stress, poor nutrition, accidents, falls and communicable diseases. As a recent Australian Housing and Urban Research Institute report notes, the private housing market fails to decently and affordably accommodate people on low incomes or facing other forms of disadvantage.

Two-thirds of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians live outside major cities. A critical factor in improving health outcomes for Indigenous Australians is the provision and maintenance of appropriate housing. For example, crowded housing can contribute to the increased burden of disease in children including Otitis media – which can result in permanent hearing loss – and Strep A infection, which can lead to rheumatic fever and the devastating effects of rheumatic heart disease.

Who should attend?

The webinar is open to anyone, but particularly those interested in the critical role secure housing plays in the health, and economic and social wellbeing, of low-income Australians; the importance of appropriate housing for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians; the effect of the current recession on people in economic hardship, particularly in rural Australia; and how to overcome the devastating effects of rheumatic heart disease on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians.


Richard Denniss

Dr Richard Denniss

Chief Economist, The Australia Institute


Dr Denniss will provide an overview of the Australian economy and the outlook going forward. He will look at the issue of increasing economic hardship, poverty and the implications for housing and homelessness, and potential government interventions.


Dr Richard Denniss is the Chief Economist and former Executive Director of The Australia Institute. He is a prominent Australian economist, author and public policy commentator, and a former Associate Professor in the Crawford School of Public Policy at ANU. Richard was described by Mark Kenny in the Sydney Morning Herald as "a constant thorn in the side of politicians on both sides due to his habit of skewering dodgy economic justifications for policy". The Australian Financial Review listed Denniss and Ben Oquist of The Australia Institute as equal tenth-place on their 'Covert Power' 2018 list of the most powerful people in Australia.

Prior to his appointment at The Australia Institute, Denniss was Senior Strategic Advisor to Australian Greens Leader Senator Bob Brown and was also Chief of Staff to Senator Natasha Stott-Despoja, former Leader of the Australian Democrats. He was also a Lecturer in Economics at the university of Newcastle.He is a prolific writer with regular columns in the Australian Financial Review and the Guardian as well as writing regular essays for The Monthly. He has written five books including Affluenza: When Too Much is Never Enough (with Clive Hamilton), An introduction to Australian Public Policy (with Sarah Maddison), Minority policy: rethinking governance when parliament matters (with Brenton Prosser) Econobabble: How to Decode Political Spin and Economic Nonsense, Curing Affluenza: How to Buy Less Stuff and Save the World and the June 2018 Quarterly Essay, Dead Right: How Neoliberalism Ate Itself and What Comes Next.

Prof Fran Baum

Prof Fran Baum

Director, Southgate Institute for Health, Society and Equity; Matthew Flinders Distinguished Professor, Flinders University; and Head, WHO Collaborating Centre on Social, Political and Commercial Determinants of Health Equity


Professor Baum will discuss the need not only for a COVID-19 vaccine, but also a ‘social vaccine’ – a metaphor designed to shift the dominant biomedical orientation of the health sector towards the underlying external factors that cause disease and suffering. Such a vaccine would have to be applied in multiple sectors that affect health, including education, employment, welfare and housing. It comprises government and other institutional policies that aim to keep people well and mitigate the structural drivers of inequities in daily living conditions, which make people and communities vulnerable to disease and trauma.


Fran Baum is Matthew Flinders Distinguished Professor of Public Health and Foundation, Director of the Southgate Institute for Health, Society and Equity at Flinders University, Adelaide, Australia. She was named in the Queen’s Birthday 2016 Honours List as an Officer of the Order of Australia (AO) for “distinguished service to higher education as an academic and public health researcher, as an advocate for improved access to community health care, and to professional organisations”. From 2009 to 2014 she held a prestigious Australia Research Council Federation Fellowship. She is a Fellow of the Academy of the Social Sciences in Australia, the Australian Academy of Health and Medical Sciences and of the Australian Health Promotion Association. She is a past National President and Life Member of the Public Health Association of Australia. She is a member and past Chair of the Global Steering Council of the People’s Health Movement, a global network of health activists ( She also served as a Commissioner on the World Health Organization’s (WHO) Commission on the Social Determinants of Health from 2005 to 2008 and is a director of the WHO Collaborating Centre on the Social, Political and Commercial Determinants of Health Equity. In 2020 she was appointed as a Commissioner on the Lancet Commission on Gender and Global Health (2020-23).

Fran Baum is one of Australia's leading researchers on the social and economic determinants of health. She holds grants from the National Health and Medical Research Council and the Australia Research Council, which are considering a wide range of aspects of health inequities and social determinants of health. These grants include an NHMRC Centre for Research Excellence on Policies for Health Equity of which she is one of the two co-Directors. Her book, The New Public Health (4th edn published January 2016 by Oxford University Press), is widely cited and used in many public health courses. Her new book, Governing for Health (Oxford University Press, New York, December, 2018), examines how a society can be organised to best promote health.

Michael Klerck

Michael Klerck

Social Policy Manager, Tangentyere Council


Mr Klerck will discuss the work the Tangentyere Council Aboriginal Corporation has been doing to deliver better environmental health through the 9 Healthy Living Practices, as outlined by the National Indigenous Housing Guide, and highlight details of the healthy house check and how to stay healthy in your home. He will also discuss some of the key challenges currently confronting Aboriginal housing including: energy security and the need to raise the rate of government support payments; and climate change, the implications for housing of increasing internal ambient temperatures and the negative effects on health.


Michael Klerck works for Tangentyere Council Aboriginal Corporation in the capacity of Social Policy and Manager. He has 20 years’ experience in the human service sector in Central Australia working for the Northern Territory Government, non-Indigenous NGOs and Aboriginal Corporations. In his current role he oversees a diverse portfolio of responsibilities including: the coordination and facilitation of Town Camp Annual General Meetings; inter-agency coordination; external stakeholder relationship management; submissions to government inquiries; and, preparation of funding applications. This experience is underpinned by a multidisciplinary skill set with graduate and post graduate qualifications in science; and grief, loss and trauma.

Prior to this role he worked as a practitioner with children, young people and those at risk of homelessness in Alice Springs, the Town Camps and remote Central Australia.  He has extensive areas of professional interest including: the relationship between the environmental and social determinants on the health and well-being of those experiencing multidimensional disadvantage.

In his current role he has the oversight of research partnerships operated in collaboration with the Central Australian Academic Health Science Network (CAAHSN); the University of Newcastle (UoN); the Australian National University (ANU); and the CSIRO. Primarily these research projects relate to housing, health and the built environment. Several projects also consider language and culture.

Dr Katherine Noonan

Dr Katharine Noonan

Head of Strategy, END RHD, Telethon Kids Institute


Dr Noonan will provide a synopsis of the RHD Endgame Strategy: The blueprint to eliminate rheumatic heart disease in Australia by 2031. She will focus on the recommendations of the Strategy and how stakeholders can support the Strategy.


Dr Katharine Noonan completed her medical training in WA and works in paediatrics and public health. Katharine holds a Masters in Global Health Science from the University of Oxford, where she studied as a Rhodes scholar. She previously worked with the NHS for a public sector consulting firm in London, and as Policy and Research Lead with the Australian Medical Association (WA).

Katharine currently works at Telethon Kids Institute with END RHD and the Australian Strep A Vaccine Initiative, and at the WA Department of Health as a public health registrar.

Mary Delahunty

Mary Delahunty

Head of Impact, HESTA


As an industry super fund dedicated to health and community services, HESTA invest in social housing projects across Australia that help people experiencing homelessness, as well as financial disadvantage.

As part of their Social Impact Investment Trust HESTA has invested $1.5 million to launching the Aspire Social Impact Bond to help provide South Australians experiencing homelessness with stable accommodation, job training and life skills. More recently HESTA has invested $20 million in Nightingale Village, located in Melbourne. That’s 105 carbon-neutral apartments sold to first home buyers and people who contribute a lot to society, like nurses and carers.

They believe housing that’s safe and secure is a basic human right.


Mary is the Head of Impact for HESTA and has been with the fund since early 2013. She has held senior roles in financial services organisations for over 15 years and is passionate about progressing responsible investment practices. HESTA is one of Australia’s largest superannuation funds with $52bn under management and over 870,000 members.

Mary is a 2015 Churchill Fellow awarded for the completion of international research on equity for women in pension systems.

Mary is the Chair of the Ministerial Advisory Council for Gender Equality in the State of Victoria.  The Council’s role is to advise the Minister for Women on the Safe and Strong equality strategy.

Mary is also a councillor and former Mayor of the City of Glen Eira.  Mary is also a Board Member of The Emergency Services Telecommunication Authority and an advisory panel member for the State Government, she is a past Chair of Reclink Australia, a National Not For Profit organisation offering sports and recreation opportunities to break the cycle for disadvantaged Australians.

Mary holds a Masters of Finance (Corporate Advisory) and has three young children.

Facilitated by: 

Gabrielle O'Kane

Dr Gabrielle O’Kane

Chief Executive Officer, National Rural Health Alliance


Gabrielle O’Kane is the CEO of the National Rural Health Alliance and is an Adjunct Associate Professor at the University of Canberra and Charles Sturt University. She is an Advanced Accredited Practising Dietitian with 35-plus years working in rural and regional private and public practice in NSW and is also an academic and researcher.

Prior to joining the Alliance, she was responsible for commissioning and governing drug and alcohol services for the South East NSW Primary Health Network, Coordinaire.

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