Housing satisfies the essential needs of people for shelter, security and privacy. Shelter is recognised throughout the world as a basic human right. The adequacy or otherwise of housing is an important component of individual wellbeing. Housing also has great significance in the national economy, with its influence on investment levels, interest rates, building activity and employment.
In the 1920s, the Australian Government moved to provide financial assistance for access to home ownership for moderate and low income groups, and a number of policy initiatives over recent decades have focused on this goal. Governments have continued to actively promote home ownership as part of an overall policy directed at achieving people's self-reliance in housing, and a quality of housing adequate for their needs. Currently Australia has one of the highest rates of home ownership in the world. Governments also provide assistance to low income households to rent suitable and affordable housing.
The predominance of separate, free-standing houses situated on 'quarter-acre blocks' has historically been a feature of Australian urban development. More recently, governments have moved to promote higher housing density, to provide greater choice of housing types and to make better use of existing infrastructure.
This chapter provides information on the types of dwellings Australians live in, their tenure type and housing costs. It also looks at a range of factors associated with buying a home, including home loans, house prices and the characteristics of recent home-buyer households. It includes comparisons between states and territories and between households at different life cycle stages. Most of the statistics are from the 2007-08 Survey of Income and Housing, conducted by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), and other ABS collections. Administrative data relating to housing assistance are also included.