National housing assistance for Australians under focus in new reports

An estimated 381,400 Australian households lived in public rental, Indigenous rental or community housing provided under the Commonwealth-State national housing program during 2002-03, according to three new reports released today by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW).

The reports show that at least 349,998 households received assistance through mainstream public housing and the Aboriginal Rental Housing Program during 2002-03, representing 5% of all households.

In addition, the Commonwealth-State Housing Agreement (CSHA) community housing assists about 31,400 households with rental housing. The number of community houses in Australia is small-representing less than half of 1% of all housing tenures.

Over 33,000 households were newly allocated public housing during 2002-03.

Programs funded under the CSHA are designed to help people whose needs for appropriate housing cannot be met by the private market.

Head of the AIHW's Housing Assistance Unit, David Wilson, said that almost half (48%) of all public rental housing newly allocated under the CSHA during 2002-03 was made to households who had 'special needs'.

'These are often people who have difficulty accessing appropriate accommodation in the private rental market because of discrimination or, in the case of people with disabilities, lack of appropriate housing to suit their needs,' Mr Wilson said.

'Of the new households allocated public rental housing in Australia from 1 July 2002 to 30 June 2003, 3,557 allocations were made to Indigenous households, representing 10.7% of all new allocations.

'Similarly, 1,100 of the 17,900 new households provided with community housing under the CSHA during 2002-03 were to Indigenous households, representing 6% of all new households assisted.

There were almost 12,000 households in dwellings, owned and managed by the States and Territories, that are targeted to Indigenous people. Of the 12,563 dwellings, 34% were located in major cities, 22% in inner regional Australia, 26% in outer regional Australia and 18% in remote or very remote areas.

The vast majority of households in CSHA-funded housing are paying less than market rent, with 88% of public renters, 86% of Indigenous renters and 85% of households in community housing receiving rental rebates. Of the 35,022 new allocations to CSHA-funded public rental and Indigenous rental in 2002-03, 92% had an income less than the cut-off for receiving government support benefits.

'These three reports show us that public and community housing are being increasingly targeted to low income households that have additional needs that cannot be met by the private rental market,' Mr Wilson said.

18 December 2003

Further information: David Wilson, AIHW, tel. 02 6244 1202
For media copies of the reports: Publications Officer, AIHW, tel. 02 6244 1032