Open for Business but at What Cost? Housing issues in ‘boomtown’ Darwin

Gretchen Ennis*, Matalena Tofa, Mary Finlayson

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Citations (Scopus)


ABSTRACT: The Greater Darwin area has long experienced high housing costs and high rates of homelessness. Into this already stressed housing context have come large-scale, natural resource development projects, which are predicted to bring thousands of new workers to town, and exciting property investor interest. While many view these developments as positive, there is concern about the impacts upon the most vulnerable members of the population. This paper presents the findings of a qualitative research project exploring current housing issues in the Greater Darwin area. Interviews with housing support service providers and real estate agents reveal that the current population and investment growth have exacerbated longstanding housing issues. Increased housing stress in Darwin, and a myopic focus on rapid economic growth, may disenfranchise current residents and undermine service and support industries. We argue that while there may be some economic benefits from a ‘booming’ Darwin, greater planning and partnership between government, community organisations and corporates is required to ensure the benefits are spread across the population. Unfortunately, the Northern Territory government's dilatory approach to both housing issues and the social costs of the resources boom makes it highly unlikely innovative partnerships will occur.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)447-464
Number of pages18
JournalAustralian Geographer
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 31 Oct 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • boomtown
  • Darwin
  • housing affordability
  • housing availability
  • housing services
  • real estate


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