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Indigenous Observatory art housing assistance PNG

Due to the multiple disadvantages that many Indigenous Australians experience in the housing market, they are a priority group for, or target of, many housing assistance services.

Housing assistance aims to relieve the pressures of housing costs, and provide safe and secure housing for many low-income households, particularly those who are disadvantaged or vulnerable. Housing assistance can comprise:

  • provision of housing—for example, social housing
  • financial assistance with rent—for example, Commonwealth Rent Assistance—or with purchasing a home 
  • provision of services to assist in obtaining rental accommodation, sustaining tenancies or attaining home ownership.

What is social housing?

Social housing is one of the major forms of housing assistance provided to Australian households. It is rental housing provided by state and territory governments and by community sectors to assist people who are unable to access suitable accommodation in the private rental market. Rents in such housing are usually set at below-market rates and are generally based on the tenant’s income.

There are four main social housing programs operating in Australia. Two of the programs are ‘mainstream’ programs available to all Australians:

  • public housing
  • community housing.

The other two are specifically targeted at Indigenous Australians:

  • state owned and managed Indigenous housing
  • Indigenous community housing.

These programs provide housing to about 418,800 Australian households.

Indigenous households are 6 times as likely to live in social housing

  • About 67,700 Indigenous households lived in social housing at 30 June 2013.
  • Indigenous households were 6 times as likely as other Australian households to live in social housing—31% compared with 5%.
  • Public housing was the largest provider of social housing to Indigenous households—at 30 June 2013, 14% of Indigenous households (about 30,800) lived in such housing.
  • Indigenous community housing was the second largest provider—8% of Indigenous households (about 17,500) lived in such housing at 30 June 2013.

Proportion of households living in social housing, by Indigenous status of the household and type of social housing, 30 June 2013

Housing assistance fig 1: proportion of households in social housing PNG

Note: Figure includes the estimated number of NT remote public housing dwellings that are not captured in the social housing administrative collections (see Section 2.2 of paper for more details).

About 1 in 4 Indigenous households received Commonwealth Rent Assistance

  • An estimated 24% of Indigenous households (51,400) received Commonwealth Rent Assistance (CRA) at 14 June 2013, compared with 15% of other households.
  • Between 2009 and 2013, the number of Indigenous CRA recipients rose by 48%, while the number of other CRA recipients rose by 21%.
  • In June 2013, 61% of Indigenous CRA recipients would have been in rental stress (that is, spending more than 30% of income on rent) if they had not received CRA. The availability of CRA halved this proportion (30%). 

Proportion of households receiving CRA, by Indigenous status, 14 June 2013

Housing assistance fig 2: households receiving CRA PNG

Indigenous households are more than twice as likely to receive assistance from major housing assistance program

Available data suggest that in June 2013, Indigenous households were more than twice as likely as other households to have received support from at least one of the major housing assistance programs (that is, CRA and social housing programs). Between 43% and 46% of Indigenous households were estimated to have received such support, compared with 18% of other households.

More information

Housing assistance for Indigenous Australians provides information on support provided to Indigenous households through a range of housing assistance programs—both mainstream and Indigenous-specific. Information is provided on the use of the following types of housing assistance programs: public housing; mainstream community housing; Commonwealth Rent Assistance; private rent assistance; home purchase assistance; the National Rental Affordability Scheme; state owned and managed Indigenous housing; Indigenous community housing; and the Indigenous Home Ownership program.