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Housing assistance in Australia 2018 provides up-to-date information relating to government funded provision of social housing, rent assistance, purchase assistance and support services to help households maintain their tenancies.
Community housing continues to grow, more than doubling between 2008–09 and 2016–17 (from 39,800 to 82,900 dwellings)
Nationally, between 4% and 24% of dwellings were considered overcrowded, and between 7% and 26% underutilised in 2016–17
812,900 tenants in 396,100 households were living in the main social housing programs across Australia in 2016–17
Social housing stock not keeping pace with household growth; 5.1 per 100 households in 2007–08 down to 4.6, 2016–17
There are four main social housing programs funded by governments and provided by both government and non-government organisations in Australia. These social housing rental programs include public housing, mainstream community housing, state owned and managed Indigenous housing (SOMIH), and Indigenous community housing.
Over time, there has been a gradual but steady policy focus towards growing the community housing sector and transferring ownership or management of public housing stock to community housing organisations. This has provided community organisations an opportunity to expand their operational capacity and to demonstrate the ability to be flexible in their delivery of social housing.
For the purpose of this report, a dwelling is defined as a structure, or a discrete space within a structure, intended for a person or group of people to live. Dwelling types may include:
Between 2008–09 and 2016–17, there has been a 5% decrease of dwellings in public housing, from 336,500 to 319,900. This has been offset by an increase in the number of dwellings in mainstream community housing (from 39,800 to 82,900 dwellings) over the same 9-year period (Figure 4.1).
Note: ‘Other social housing’ refers to SOMIH, mainstream community housing and Indigenous community housing.
Source: AIHW National Housing Assistance Data Repository. Northern Territory Government. Department of Housing, Annual Report. Darwin, NT. See supplementary table DWELLINGS.1.
At 30 June 2017, there were around 435,700 dwellings in social housing in Australia. Of these dwellings, 73% were in public housing; 3% were in SOMIH; 19% were in mainstream community housing; and 4% were in ICH.
Over the past 12 months, the number of public housing dwellings has decreased slightly continuing the trend of falling public rental housing numbers. ICH dwelling numbers, while remaining relatively steady over the past 12 months, have also fallen between 2009–10 and 2016–17, from 18,700 to 17,900 (a fall of 4%) (Figure 4.2).
In contrast, in the past 12 months mainstream community housing numbers have increased by 3%, and between 2008–09 and 2016–17, the number of mainstream community housing dwellings has more than doubled (from 39,800 to 82,900 (a rise of 108%)).
SOMIH dwelling numbers decreased by 17% between 2008–09 and 2015–16, but increased between 2015–16 and 2016–17, from 9,900 to 14,900 (a rise of 50%). This is primarily due to the reporting of NT remote public housing through the SOMIH collection.
Note: Data relating to NT remote public housing dwellings (including town camp dwellings) have been reported for the first time in the 2016–17 SOMIH collection. Previously, these dwellings have been reported separately.
At 30 June 2017, New South Wales had the largest number of social housing dwellings across each program type, except for Indigenous community housing, which had more dwellings reported in Queensland. Victoria had the next highest number of dwellings for public housing and mainstream community housing (See supplementary table DWELLINGS.3).
The social housing profiles in each jurisdiction are distinct, reflecting the shift in policy focus to enable flexibility in the delivery of social housing, to better meet the needs of their inhabitants (Table 4.1). For example, while the five largest states (NSW, Vic, Qld, WA and SA) have broadly similar profiles, with the majority consisting of public housing (71–80%) followed by mainstream community housing (16–22%), Tasmania and the Northern Territory display greater program diversity.
Mainstream community housing(b)
Indigenous community housing(b)(c)(d)
. . not applicable
Note: Some percentages may not total 100 due to rounding.
Source: AIHW National Housing Assistance Data Repository. See supplementary table DWELLINGS.3.
Proportions of social housing dwellings also varied across remoteness areas. At 30 June 2017, Major cities had the highest proportions of public housing, SOMIH and mainstream community housing dwellings (74%, 36% and 66%, respectively). As expected, the highest proportion of Indigenous community housing dwellings was in Very remote areas (48%) (Figure 4.3).
Note: Dwellings with missing location information are excluded.
Source: AIHW National Housing Assistance Data Repository. See supplementary table DWELLINGS.4.
At 30 June 2017, public housing dwellings were most commonly in the form of a separate house (38%), followed by a flat, unit or apartment (35%). The vast majority of SOMIH dwellings were in the form of a separate house (81%), with a further 14% being a semi-detached house or townhouse (Figure 4.4).
Unlike public rental housing and SOMIH, mainstream community housing dwellings were in the form of a flat, unit or apartment (49%), followed by a separate house (29%).
Source: AIHW National Housing Assistance Data Repository. See supplementary table DWELLINGS.5.
At 30 June 2017, the size of social housing dwellings also differed across program type. Public housing dwellings were most likely to be three bedroom dwellings (37%), followed by two bedroom dwellings (31%). The majority of SOMIH dwellings were three bedroom dwellings (61%) (Figure 4.5).
In contrast, mainstream community housing dwellings were most commonly two or one bedroom dwellings (35% and 34%, respectively). Almost half of Indigenous community housing dwellings were three bedroom dwellings (49%).
Source: AIHW National Housing Assistance Data Repository. See supplementary table DWELLINGS.6.
In general, the majority of community housing (CH) organisations in all states and territories except Western Australia, were managing fewer than 50 dwellings. At 30 June 2017, Queensland had the highest number of CH organisations, at almost 200 (Table 4.2). The majority of these were CH organisations that managed fewer than 20 dwellings. New South Wales had the next highest number of CH organisations with 154. Of these, the majority were CH organisations that managed fewer than 20 dwellings. On the other hand, New South Wales also had the highest number of CH organisations that managed 200 or more dwellings (26).
200 or more dwellings
Less than 20 dwellings
Note: Mainstream community housing organisations include not-for-profit organisations that provide safe, secure, affordable and appropriate rental housing. The information was sourced by state/territory housing authorities from community housing organisations and/or from administrative records held by them. Data are incomplete for some jurisdictions due to non-reporting or under-reporting by community housing providers. The response rate differs between jurisdictions—as outlined in the data quality statement for this collection.
Source: AIHW National Housing Assistance Data Repository. See supplementary table DWELLINGS.8.
In general, across Australia, most Indigenous community housing (ICH) organisations were managing fewer than 50 dwellings (Table 4.3). At 30 June 2017, New South Wales reported the highest number of ICH organisations, at 111. Nearly half (49%) of these organisations managed fewer than 20 dwellings.
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