Access to stable and adequate housing is important for people’s health and wellbeing. Reducing homelessness, housing stress and overcrowding are ways to improve housing outcomes and measure the performance of the welfare system.
Context statement: Indicator of social exclusion. Homeless people are among the most marginalised people in Australia. Not having adequate stable housing makes it difficult to participate productively in society, and is associated with negative personal and social outcomes.
Census data shows the rate of homelessness has fluctuated, from 51 per 10,000 population in 2001 to a low of 45 in 2006. The rate increased to 50 in 2016 (ABS 2018). Most of the increase in homelessness between 2006 and 2016 occurred in persons living in ‘severely’ crowded dwellings, which increased from 16 per 10,000 population in 2006 to 22 per 10,000 population in 2016. In 2016, the Northern Territory had the highest rate of homeless people (about 600 persons per 10,000 population) and Tasmania the lowest (32 per 10,000).
For more information, see Homelessness and homelessness services and AIHW Housing Data Dashboard.
Reference: ABS (Australian Bureau of Statistics) 2018. Census of Population and Housing: Estimating homelessness; Reference period: 2016. Canberra: ABS
Context statement: Indicator of housing stress. Households that pay high proportions of their household income to meet their housing needs are at risk of not having the financial resources needed to participate fully in society. This is especially the case for lower income rental households.
The proportion of lower income renter households in housing stress (spending more than 30% of their gross household income on housing costs) generally increased from 35% in 2007–08 to 44% in 2015–16 before falling to 43% in 2017–18.
For low-income households in the private rental market, the proportion in rental stress varies between the capital cities and the rest of the states and territories. The gap between these areas has increased over time (AIHW 2021):
For more information, see Housing affordability and AIHW Housing Data Dashboard.
Reference: AIHW (Australian Institute of Health and Welfare) 2021. Housing affordability. Canberra: AIHW.
Context statement: Indicator of Indigenous disadvantage. Due to relatively low incomes, lower rates of home ownership and higher rates of homelessness, Indigenous Australians are more likely to live in overcrowded conditions compared with other Australians. Reducing overcrowding for Indigenous households has been linked to positive health, education and family outcomes.
Available data suggest a decline in overcrowding over time. The proportion of:
This reduction in overcrowding represents a narrowing of the gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians from 22 to 13 percentage points (AIHW & NIAA 2020).
In 2018–19, almost 1 in 5 Indigenous Australians were living in overcrowded dwellings, compared with 5% of non-Indigenous Australians (AIHW & NIAA 2020).
For further information, see Indigenous housing.
AIHW (Australian Institute of Health and Welfare) 2019. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people: a focus report on housing and homelessness. Cat. no. HOU 301. Canberra: AIHW
AIHW & NIAA (Australian Institute of Health and Welfare and National Indigenous Australians Agency) 2020. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Performance Framework: 2.01 Housing. Canberra: AIHW.
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