The dynamic between housing policy and wider welfare reform has been an important theme within housing scholarship. As a background this paper considers Jamrozik's contention of a transition in social policy from a welfare state to a post welfare paradigm through exploring the impact of ideological discourses for contemporary Australian social housing policy. Our approach combines an analysis of the discourses of social exclusion in two key housing policy documents and interviews with social housing tenants and professionals in South Australia. The analysis serves to illustrate the ways in which contemporary housing policy reflects and is shaped by competing ideological discourses. In particular, it makes explicit how the foundational discourses shaping Australian housing policy has changed considerably over recent years, reflecting, to a large extent, the influence of neo-liberal ideologies on the operation of government policy making.