State and territory housing authorities managed 336,464 public rental housing dwellings at 30 June 2009, of which approximately 98% were occupied.

In total, 328,736 households lived in public rental dwellings at 30 June 2009 including 25,115 Indigenous households, which represented 8% of all households.

Of all households, 88% paid less than market rent for the dwelling, with the remaining households paying market rent. On average, households paying a reduced rent in public rental housing paid about $121 per week less than the market rent for their dwelling.

During the period 1 July 2008 to 30 June 2009, 20,753 households were newly allocated to public rental housing. Of these households, two-thirds were classified as being in ‘greatest need’. 1 There were 3,346 Indigenous households allocated public rental housing during 2007–08, representing 16% of all new allocations for the period.

Figure 1 represents the proportion of new allocations by time since application for greatest need households and all households. The figure shows that 60% of greatest need households were assisted within 6 months of application.

Figure 1: New allocations of public rental housing to households in greatest need and all households, by time to allocation, 2008–09  

A total of 177,652 households were on waiting lists for public rental housing at 30 June 2009, with 8% of these households classified as being in ‘greatest need’.

Of the 302,371 households occupying public rental dwellings for which household composition and dwelling details were known, over 20,200 were moderately overcrowded in their allocated dwelling and over 5,200 were living in an overcrowded dwelling. Nearly 36,000 households were living in a dwelling that was underutilised, where there were two or more additional bedrooms to the standard. 2


  1. Greatest need

The ‘greatest need’ national standard includes low income households that at the time of allocation were subject to one or more of the following circumstances:

  • they were homeless

  • their life or safety was at risk in their accommodation
  • their health condition was aggravated by their housing
  • their housing was inappropriate to their needs
  • they had very high rental housing costs
  1. Proxy occupancy standard

The proxy occupancy standard is used to measure the appropriateness of housing related to the household size and household composition. The measure specifies the bedroom requirements of a household:

  • single adult only households require 1 bedroom
  • single adult group households require 1 bedroom (per adult)
  • couple with no children households require 2 bedrooms
  • sole parent or couple with 1 child households require 2 bedrooms
  • sole parent or couple with 2 or 3 children households require 3 bedrooms
  • sole parent or couple with 4 children households require 4 bedrooms
  • for sole parents or couple households with more than four children, the bedrooms required should be the same value as the total number of children in the household
    • Households that require two or more additional bedrooms to meet the standard are considered to be overcrowded.
    • Households that require one additional bedroom to meet the standard are considered to be moderately overcrowded.
    • Households where there are two or more bedrooms additional to the number required are considered to be underutilised.