Common Ground in Australia: An Object Lesson in Evidence Hierarchies and Policy Transfer

Cameron Parsell, Suzanne Fitzpatrick, Volker Busch-Geertsema

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    47 Citations (Scopus)


    Developed in New York City in 1990, the Common Ground model of supportive housing has recently been embraced in Australia as a high-profile solution to chronic homelessness. Combining on-site support services with a congregate housing form accommodating ex-homeless people and low-income adults, Common Ground is presented as an innovative model which permanently ends homelessness, enhances wellbeing, and strengthens communities. This article
    critically examines the process of transferring the model into Australia’s social housing sector, drawing on the perspectives of the high-level stakeholders closely involved. It argues that, despite official commitments to evidence-based policy, the ‘advocacy coalition’ driving this international policy transfer employed a ‘knowledge hierarchy’ wherein professional intuition and personal experience were afforded a higher status than formal evaluative evidence. The article provides an example of the contested nature of what ‘counts as evidence’ in housing and homelessness policy, and considers what role academic research – as well as other knowledge sources – should play in the policy development process.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)1-19
    JournalHousing Studies
    Publication statusPublished - 2013


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