For the most up to date information on COVID-19 please visit the Department of Health Website.
Learn more about how the AIHW is assisting the COVID-19 response and our broader work on communicable diseases.
Australian Institute of Health and Welfare 2019. Indigenous housing. Canberra: AIHW. Viewed 05 April 2020, https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/australias-welfare/indigenous-housing
Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. (2019). Indigenous housing. Retrieved from https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/australias-welfare/indigenous-housing
Indigenous housing. Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, 11 September 2019, https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/australias-welfare/indigenous-housing
Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. Indigenous housing [Internet]. Canberra: Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, 2019 [cited 2020 Apr. 5]. Available from: https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/australias-welfare/indigenous-housing
Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) 2019, Indigenous housing, viewed 5 April 2020, https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/australias-welfare/indigenous-housing
Get citations as an Endnote file:
A safe, secure home with working facilities is a key factor supporting the health and wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians. Not having affordable, secure and appropriate housing can have negative consequences, including homelessness, poor health, and lower rates of employment and education participation—all of which can lead to social exclusion and disadvantage (AIHW 2017).
This page focuses on housing stability (including tenure and housing assistance), housing quality (including facilities and structural soundness) and potential overcrowding. It also looks at homelessness and the use of relevant services by Indigenous Australians.
Housing tenure describes whether a dwelling is owned, rented or occupied under some other arrangement. Based on the 2016 Census of Population and Housing (ABS 2018), of the estimated 263,037 Indigenous households, nearly:
The rate of home ownership (with or without a mortgage) has gradually increased among Indigenous Australian households: 34% owned their home in 2006; 36% in 2011; and 38% in 2016 (Figure 1).
In contrast, the home ownership rate among Other Australian households (see glossary for definition of Other households) decreased slightly over the same period: 69% owned their home in 2006; 68% in 2011; and 66% in 2016. This resulted in a closing of the home ownership gap by 7 percentage points over the decade (AIHW 2019a).
Census data also indicate that over the decade between 2006 and 2016, the proportion of Indigenous households:
Figure 1 alternative text Figure 1 data table (118KB XLSX)
Differences in tenure type exist by remoteness area. In 2016, Indigenous households in Remote and very remote areas combined were:
A number of factors may influence the variation by remoteness in the tenure of Indigenous households. One is that community-titled land is more common in remote areas, and Indigenous households living on community-titled land face additional barriers in obtaining individual land ownership (see AIHW 2019a).
Due to the barriers many Indigenous Australians face in the housing market, they are a priority group for, or focus of, many housing assistance services. Commonwealth Rent Assistance (CRA) and social housing assist the largest number of Indigenous households (AIHW 2017).
Data for this section are from the AIHW’s annual National Housing Assistance Data Repository.
CRA is a non-taxable income supplement payable to eligible people who rent in private or community housing rental markets. Recipients are ‘income units’—that is, a person or a group of persons within a household who share command over income. Generally, there are more income units than households.
Data on CRA recipients show that, as at 30 June 2018, 72,981 income units receiving CRA reported having an Indigenous member. This equates to 5.6% of all CRA income units, an increase from 3.6% in 2009 (AIHW 2019a; SCRGSP 2019).
Social housing is rental housing provided by state and territory governments and community sectors. Its purpose is to assist people who are unable to access suitable accommodation in the private rental market. Social housing includes public housing, state owned and managed Indigenous housing, community housing, and Indigenous community housing (AIHW 2019a).
As at 30 June 2018:
The 2014–15 National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Survey collected information on: basic types of household facilities considered important for a healthy living environment; and whether the household dwelling had major structural problems.
The proportion of Indigenous Australians living in dwellings with major structural problems or in which 1 or more basic facilities were not available was similar in 2014–15 and in 2008 (AIHW 2017).
According to the 2016 Census, 10% of Indigenous households (about 26,400), across all types of housing tenure, were living in overcrowded dwellings (see glossary) (ABS 2018).
Data are also available on the number of Indigenous Australians living in overcrowded dwellings. In 2016, 1 in 5 Indigenous Australians (20%, or about 114,400 people) were living in overcrowded dwellings.
Available data suggests a decline in overcrowding over time. The proportion of Indigenous:
In contrast, around 3% of Other households were considered to be overcrowded and 6% to 7% of non-Indigenous Australians were living in overcrowded conditions in each of the last 4 Census years (2001, 2006, 2011, 2016) (ABS 2018; AIHW 2014). These data suggest some narrowing of the gap in overcrowding levels over the decade (Figure 2).
Figure 2 alternative text Figure 2 data table (118KB XLSX)
Differences in overcrowding exist by remoteness area. In 2016, the:
Indigenous Australians continue to be over-represented in both the national homeless population and as users of Specialist Homelessness Services (SHS). They make up 3.3% of the Australian population, yet have consistently higher rates of homelessness and service use than non-Indigenous Australians (AIHW 2019c).
According to 2014–15 National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Survey data, 29% of Indigenous Australians aged 15 and over had been homeless at some time. By comparison, data from the 2014 General Social Survey suggest that 13% of non-Indigenous Australians aged 15 and over had ever experienced homelessness (AIHW 2017).
SHS data show that:
Disparities exist between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians across a range of housing measures.
Compared with non-Indigenous Australians, Indigenous Australians were:
For more information on Indigenous housing, see:
ABS (Australian Bureau of Statistics) 2016. National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Survey, 2014-15. ABS cat. no. 4714.0. Canberra: ABS.
ABS 2018. Census of Population and Housing, customised report. Prepared for: Australian Institute of Health and Welfare.
AIHW (Australian Institute of Health and Welfare) 2014. Housing circumstances of Indigenous households: tenure and overcrowding. Cat. no. IHW 132. Canberra: AIHW.
AIHW 2017. Australia’s welfare 2017. Australia’s welfare series no. 13. AUS 214. Canberra: AIHW.
AIHW 2019a. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people: a focus report on housing and homelessness. Cat no. HOU 301. Canberra: AIHW.
AIHW 2019b. Housing Assistance Australia 2019 (web report). Cat. no. HOU 315 Canberra: AIHW.
AIHW 2019c. Specialist homelessness services annual report 2017–18 (web report). Cat no. HOU 299. Canberra: AIHW.
SCRGSP (Steering Committee for the Review of Government Service Provision) 2019, Report on Government Services 2019, Productivity Commission, Canberra.
Horizontal stacked column graph showing the percent of Indigenous households by tenure type for the census years 2006, 2011, and 2016. In 2006, 23% of Indigenous households owned their home with a mortgage, 11% owned their home outright, 29% were living in social housing, 27% were private renters, 4% were other renters, and 6% were in other tenure or tenure not stated. The proportions were similar for the 2011 and 2016 census years.
Horizontal time trend line graph showing the percent of people living in overcrowded households, by Indigenous status, for the census years 2001, 2006, 2011, and 2016. Indigenous Australians: 30% in 2001; 26% in 2006; 25% in 2011; 20% in 2016. Non-Indigenous Australians: 6% in 2001, 2006, and 2011; 7% in 2016.
We'd love to know any feedback that you have about the AIHW website, its contents or reports.
The browser you are using to browse this website is outdated and some features may not display properly or be accessible to you. Please use a more recent browser for the best user experience.