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There has been an increase in the rate of home ownership among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander households, while the extent of overcrowding has declined, according to 3 papers released today by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW).

'We're seeing some encouraging trends in terms of housing and homelessness among Indigenous Australians,' said AIHW spokesperson Dr Fadwa Al-Yaman.

'For example, there has been a gradual rise in the rate of home ownership among Indigenous households-from 32% to 36% between 2001 and 2011.

'Meanwhile, the rate of overcrowding among Indigenous households has declined-from 15.7% in 2001 to 12.9% in 2011. As well, the rate of homelessness among Indigenous people fell by 14% between 2006 and 2011 (from 5.7% to 4.9%).'

'Despite these trends, overcrowding and homelessness are still much more common among Indigenous Australians,' Dr Al-Yaman said.

Indigenous households were more than 3 times as likely as other households to be overcrowded (12.9% and 3.4%, respectively) in 2011.

'About 1 in 20 Indigenous people were experiencing homelessness on Census night in 2011. This is 14 times the rate for non-Indigenous people (1 in 284 people),' Dr Al Yaman said.

Homelessness comprises a number of different living arrangements, ranging from those who are 'sleeping rough' to those living in severely crowded dwellings. Among Indigenous people who were homeless, the majority (75%) were living in severely crowded dwellings, 6% were sleeping rough, while the remainder (19%) were in other types of homelessness situations such as in supported accommodation for the homeless.

Indigenous households were more than twice as likely as other Australian households to have received support from a major housing assistance program in June 2013-between 43% and 46% of Indigenous households compared with 18% of other households.'

In June 2013:

  • 31% of Indigenous households (about 67,700) lived in social housing indicating that Indigenous households were 6 times as likely as other households (5%) to do so
  • public housing was the largest provider of social housing to Indigenous households-14% of Indigenous households (30,800 households) lived in such housing
  • an estimated 1 in 4 (24%) Indigenous households received Commonwealth Rent Assistance compared with 15% of other households.

In 2012-13, 1 in 5 (22%) clients of specialist homelessness services were Indigenous. The most common main reasons for seeking assistance were related to accommodation issues (31%) and interpersonal relationship issues (32%) including domestic violence.

The AIHW is a major national agency set up by the Australian Government to provide reliable, regular and relevant information and statistics on Australia's health and welfare.

Canberra, 16 July 2014

Further information: Dr Fadwa Al-Yaman, AIHW, tel. (02) 6244 1146, mob. 0407 068 033

Full publications:

Housing assistance for Indigenous Australians

Housing circumstances of Indigenous households: tenure and overcrowding

Homelessness among Indigenous Australians