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ALICE STOLZ MAY 30, 2022

Do you ever play that largely inane game where you think, “What if…?” or worse, “If only…?” Kicking yourself when you add on: “…started saving earlier”, or “…bought that house before the suburb took off”. You know how it goes, a rather pointless circle.

And so I was initially encouraged this week when my daughter in year 11 showed me what she was working on in economics; an overview of Australia’s housing market.

Amongst understanding the history and size of the market, they’re forensically looking at house price growth and the fluctuations it’s gone through over the decades.

They’re unpicking why foreign investment in Australia became so alluring. They’re looking at the factors that influence interest rate rises. They’re weighing up the pros and cons of negative gearing.

And they’re bending their minds about the country’s shortage of housing as well as how to tackle the affordability crisis. It’s terrifically meaty stuff.

Now granted, my own daughter is fortunate enough to be studying this, but I have other children who may very well not go down this path and what of them and the millions of Aussie kids who choose chemistry or drama over a subject like economics? Does this become a blind spot for them?

Like many Australians, when I finished school, I rented a shared house (found in the classified pages of the Sydney Morning Herald) and then dreamt of buying a house with a pretty picket fence. I knew “what” I wanted (a place of my own) but in all honesty, in my late teens and early twenties, I didn’t know much about the “why” or “how” beyond what my parents had told me (“work hard”).

Had I been exposed to insights and education around personal finance, taught about market dynamics, the options of renting versus investing, and of course the importance of saving (for anything!) I might have understood earlier that I was already closing doors that would impact my future.

If we’re the lucky country, why aren’t these crucially important topics baked into the school syllabus?

Whether we like it or not, property touches everything and is something we need from cradle to grave. Arming the children of today with financial literacy, as well as an understanding of housing and affordability, is surely the least we can do.

The stakes are too high not to.

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