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released: 16 Jul 2014 author: AIHW media release

The housing circumstances of Indigenous Australians are described in this paper using Census data. The topics of housing tenure and overcrowding are covered, with trends considered, as well as differences according to factors such as remoteness, jurisdiction and socioeconomic status. In 2011, Indigenous households were about half as likely as other Australian households to own their home and more than 3 times as likely to be overcrowded.

ISSN 978-1-74249-595-8; Cat. no. IHW 132; 51pp.; Internet Only


Indigenous households about half as likely to own their own home

Indigenous households continue to have substantially lower rates of home ownership than other households. According to the 2011 Census, just over 1 in 3 (36%) Indigenous households were home owners-almost half the proportion of other households (68%).

Among Indigenous households, home ownership rates were lowest in more remote areas- in Remote and Very remote areas combined, 18% owned their home in 2011, while 57% of households in these areas lived in social housing.

The home ownership gap has narrowed

There has been a gradual increase in the rate of home ownership among Indigenous households: 32% owned their home in 2001, 34% in 2006, and 36% in 2011. In contrast, the home ownership rate among other households has decreased slightly (from 69% in 2001 to 68% in 2011), resulting in a closing of the home ownership gap by 5 percentage points over the decade.

Between 2001 and 2011, the rate of home ownership among Indigenous households increased at least to some degree across each of the remoteness areas, including an increase of 2 percentage points in both Remote and Very remote areas.

Indigenous households more than 3 times as likely to be overcrowded

About 24,700 Indigenous households were considered to be overcrowded on Census night in 2011. Indigenous households were more than 3 times as likely as other households to be overcrowded, with 12.9% of Indigenous households and 3.4% of other households requiring one or more extra bedrooms to accommodate the people who usually live there.

Among Indigenous households, the rate of overcrowding was highest among those living in social housing (23%) and lowest among home owners (7%).

Indigenous households living in more remote areas were more likely to be living in overcrowded dwellings-20% in Remote areas and 39% in Very remote areas compared with between 10% to 12% in other areas. Nonetheless, taking into account the number of households living in each of the remoteness areas, there were more overcrowded Indigenous households in Major cities and regional areas (17,109 households) than in Remote and Very remote areas combined (7,587).

The gap in overcrowding has also narrowed

The proportion of Indigenous households that were overcrowded fell from 15.7% in 2001 to 12.9% in 2011. For other households, around 3% were considered to be overcrowded in each of the 3 Census years, suggesting a narrowing of the gap in overcrowding levels of 3 percentage points between 2001 and 2011.

Almost 115,600 Indigenous people lived in overcrowded households

In addition to information on the number of households that are considered overcrowded, Census data suggest that almost 115,600 Indigenous people lived in overcrowded households-this represents 1 in 4 Indigenous people who were enumerated at home in private dwellings on Census night.

Recommended citation

AIHW 2014. Housing circumstances of Indigenous households: tenure and overcrowding. Cat. no. IHW 132. Canberra: AIHW. Viewed 23 September 2014 <http://www.aihw.gov.au/publication-detail/?id=60129548060>.