Australian Bureau of Statistics

Rate the ABS website
ABS Home > Statistics > By Release Date
4102.0 - Australian Social Trends, 2001  
Previous ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 06/06/2001   
   Page tools: Print Print Page Print all pages in this productPrint All RSS Feed RSS Bookmark and Share Search this Product  
Contents >> Housing >> Housing Stock: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander housing in non-remote areas

Housing Stock: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander housing in non-remote areas

In 1999, nearly 60% of Indigenous households were renting their homes, compared with 27% of non-Indigenous households.

Housing satisfies many fundamental personal and social needs, providing shelter, security, privacy, living space and necessary facilities. However, the housing conditions of Indigenous people have historically been reported as less favourable than those of other Australians (see Australian Social Trends 1996, Housing conditions of Indigenous people).

In recent years the relationship between adequate housing and the general health and wellbeing of the Indigenous community has been a focus of concern, underlying a range of programs and policies targeted towards the needs of the Indigenous population.1 This article examines a number of the issues affecting Indigenous households in non-remote areas, including levels of home ownership, dwelling condition, housing costs, and crowding.


Australian Housing Survey
This article uses data from the 1999 ABS Australian Housing Survey, which collected information about demographic and housing characteristics of persons in private dwellings in non-remote areas. For more information, see 1999 Australian Housing Survey, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Results (ABS cat. no. 4712.0).

Non-remote areas are Statistical Local Areas which have an overall housing density of at least 57 dwellings per 100 square kilometres.

Indigenous households are those households which contain at least one person who is of Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander origin who is aged 15 years or over.

Tenure type is the nature of a household or social group’s legal right to occupy the dwelling in which they usually reside (e.g. owner, renter).

Towns and areas classified according to their population:
  • major urban are all centres with a population of 100,000 or over;
  • other urban are urban centres with a population of 1,000-99,999; and
  • rural balance is where most of the balance of the population live, excluding areas with less than 57 dwellings per square kilometre.


Location of households
In 1999, approximately 82% of the Indigenous population and 99% of the non-Indigenous population lived in non-remote areas. Two thirds of these Indigenous households were located in New South Wales and Queensland. Information about Indigenous housing in remote areas can be found in Australian Social Trends 2000, Housing in remote Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.

The majority of both Indigenous and non-Indigenous households in non-remote areas were located in urban areas (91% and 88% respectively), although Indigenous households were less likely to be found in major urban areas (48% compared with 64% of non-Indigenous households). A lower proportion of Indigenous households (9%) were in non-remote rural areas compared with non-Indigenous households (12%).

LOCATION OF HOUSEHOLDS, 1999

Source: 1999 Australian Housing Survey, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Results (ABS cat. no. 4712.0).


Household composition
The composition of a household is generally related to the age and stage of life of its members. Many of the reported differences in household composition between Indigenous and non-Indigenous households can be attributed to the younger age profile of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population (stemming from their higher fertility rate and lower life expectancy). For more information see Australian Social Trends 2000, Social conditions of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

Couples with children made up 40% of Indigenous households in non-remote areas, compared with 33% of non-Indigenous households. The proportion of one-parent families was also higher in Indigenous households (15%) compared with non-Indigenous households (8%).

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people were less likely to be living alone (17% of households) than non-Indigenous people (24% of households). However, the lower proportion of lone-person households in the Indigenous population can be partly attributed to their younger age profile, as nearly half of the non-Indigenous people living alone were aged 60 years and over. The proportion of group households was similar for both the Indigenous (5%) and non-Indigenous (4%) populations.

HOUSEHOLD COMPOSITION AND DWELLING UTILISATION, 1999

Indigenous households
Non-Indigenous households


'000
%
'000
%

Family households
114.6
78.8
5,056.8
71.6
    One-family household (family members only)
      Couple only
18.1
12.4
1,727.7
24.5
      Couple with children
58.7
40.4
2,359.1
33.4
      One-parent household
21.6
14.8
578.7
8.2
    One family household (with non-family members present)
12.6
8.7
312.1
4.4
    Multiple family household
*3.6
*2.5
79.2
1.1
Non-family households
30.9
21.2
2,000.2
28.3
    Lone-person household
24.4
16.8
1,725.3
24.4
    Group household
6.5
4.5
274.9
3.9
Total households
145.5
100.0
7,057.0
100.0
1 or more bedrooms needed
18.5
12.7
311.2
4.4
No extra bedrooms needed
49.0
33.6
1,601.2
22.7
1 bedroom spare
49.1
33.8
2,555.3
36.2
2 or more bedrooms spare
28.9
19.9
2,589.3
36.7
Total households
145.5
100.0
7,057.0
100.0

Source: 1999 Australian Housing Survey, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Results (ABS cat. no. 4712.0), and ABS 1999 Australian Housing Survey.


Housing utilisation and condition
Housing utilisation is an indicator of crowding in a dwelling, calculated according to the number of bedrooms available to a household in proportion to its size and composition (the ABS has used the Canadian National Occupancy Standard as a model as it is considered to conform reasonably to social norms in Australia). As overcrowding can accelerate the deterioration of a dwelling and aggravate environmental health problems,1 the reported level of housing utilisation can reflect the quality of a household’s housing conditions.

In 1999, Indigenous households in non-remote areas had a higher average number of usual residents (3.3) than non-Indigenous households (2.6). However, this was lower than the 3.6 persons per Indigenous household reported in the 1991 Census.

While the majority (95%) of Australian households had enough bedrooms for their needs, 13% of Indigenous households needed more bedrooms to adequately accommodate all members of the household (compared with 4% for non-Indigenous households). Over 87% of the Indigenous households needing more bedrooms were renting their dwelling.

Indigenous households in non-remote areas were also more likely than non-Indigenous households to report that their dwelling was in need of repair (interior and/or exterior), especially if they lived in a rented dwelling. Overall, 20% of Indigenous households reported that their dwelling was in high need of repair (26% for those renting) compared with 7% of non-Indigenous households (13% for those renting).

NEED FOR REPAIRS TO DWELLING, 1999

Source: 1999 Australian Housing Survey, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Results (ABS cat. no. 4712.0).


Nature of occupancy
In 1999, Indigenous households in non-remote areas were more likely to be renting their home (58%) than non-Indigenous households (27%). Of those Indigenous households which rented, 39% were renting their home from a State housing authority, compared with 18% of non-Indigenous households which rented.

In 1999, 39% of Indigenous households either owned or were purchasing their own home, compared with 71% of non-Indigenous households. The proportion of Indigenous households which owned their home outright was also much lower (13%) than for non-Indigenous households (39%).

As household tenure is closely associated with age, it is likely that the younger age profile of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population is at least partly responsible for their higher proportion of renters and lower proportion of home owners. Applying (age) standardisation allows a more valid comparison of types of tenure, by presenting the rates which might occur if both populations had the same age profile as the overall Australian population.

Using standardised figures, 43% of Indigenous households in non-remote areas were home owners or purchasers, compared with 71% of non-Indigenous households. While the proportion of Indigenous households owning their dwelling outright was similar to the proportion of Indigenous households with a mortgage (21% and 22% respectively), a larger proportion of non-Indigenous households owned their home outright (39% compared with 32% with a mortgage).

After standardisation, there was still a higher proportion of renters in the Indigenous population (46%), compared with the non-Indigenous population (26%). Similar proportions of Indigenous and non-Indigenous households were renting from private landlords (19% and 20% respectively), but a higher proportion of Indigenous households were renting from a State housing authority (23% compared with 5% for non-Indigenous households).

HOUSEHOLD TENURE, 1999

Indigenous households
Non-Indigenous households


Original
Standardised(a)
Original
Standardised(a)

%
%
%
%
Total owner/purchaser
38.8
43.2
70.7
70.5
    Owner without a mortgage
12.8
21.2
39.3
39.0
    Owner with a mortgage
26.0
22.0
31.4
31.5
Total renters(b)
58.2
45.5
26.7
26.0
    State housing authority
22.4
23.1
4.8
4.8
    Private landlord
27.3
18.9
20.1
20.3

‘000
‘000
Total households(c)
145.5
. .
7,057.0
. .

(a) Indirect standardisation applied to remove the effect of different age profiles of the Indigenous and non-Indigenous populations in non-remote areas.
(b) Includes other renters.
(c) Includes rent-free and other tenures.

Source: 1999 Australian Housing Survey, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Results (ABS cat. no. 4712.0).


Housing costs
Housing costs can involve a range of components, including mortgage repayments, rent, rates, land tax, and body corporate fees, which vary depending on the tenure type of the household. In 1999, the average weekly housing cost across all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander households in non-remote areas was $139. This compared with $129 for non-Indigenous households, which reflected, at least partly, the different proportions of owners and renters in the two populations.

Purchasing a home often represented a larger financial burden for Indigenous households, with 37% spending more than a quarter of their weekly income on housing costs (compared with 25% of non-Indigenous homebuyers). As Indigenous people have a lower median income than non-Indigenous people (see Australian Social Trends 2000, Social conditions of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people), this level of financial commitment is more likely to cause housing-related income stress than for non-Indigenous households (see Australian Social Trends 2000, Housing costs).

A similar proportion of both Indigenous and non-Indigenous households renting from private landlords spent more than 25% of their weekly income on housing costs (38% of Indigenous households and 39% of non-Indigenous households). In contrast, the financial burden for households renting from a State housing authority was often considerably less, with 24% of Indigenous households and 15% of non-Indigenous households paying less than 15% of their weekly income on housing costs.

HOUSING COSTS AS PROPORTION OF HOUSEHOLD INCOME, 1999

Indigenous households
Non-Indigenous households


Owner
Renter
Owner
Renter




Without a mortgage
With a mortgage
State housing authority
Private landlord
Total(a)
Without a mortgage
With a mortgage
State housing authority
Private landlord
Total(a)
Proportion of income
%
%
%
%
%
%
%
%
%
%

Less than 15%
82.6
24.3
24.0
32.0
37.5
80.6
34.4
14.7
25.1
51.2
15% -25%
*6.5
31.4
51.9
25.1
30.5
6.3
30.1
64.1
31.0
21.8
More than 25%
**4.0
36.6
*17.8
38.2
26.0
5.6
25.3
16.9
39.4
19.4
Total(b)
100.0
100.0
100.0
100.0
100.0
100.0
100.0
100.0
100.0
100.0

(a) Includes other renters, rent-free and other tenure.
(b) Includes households with housing costs not known or with nil or negative income.

Source: 1999 Australian Housing Survey, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Results (ABS cat. no. 4712.0).


Housing history
There is a certain level of wellbeing and social attachment a household gains from having secure or permanent tenure on their home. Moving house often involves a financial cost and disruption to established community networks. The high proportion of renters within the Indigenous population meant that Indigenous households were generally more mobile than non-Indigenous households.

In 1999, 63% of the reference persons for Indigenous households in non-remote areas had lived in their current dwelling for less than five years, compared with 44% of the reference persons for non-Indigenous households. Two thirds of these persons in Indigenous households (42% of all Indigenous household reference persons) had been in their current dwelling twelve months or less. Reference persons in Indigenous households also tended to move more often, with 32% moving three or more times in the preceding five years, compared with 17% in non-Indigenous households.

However, reference persons in Indigenous households were more likely to move within the same suburb, town, or locality (48%) than non-Indigenous households (39%). They were also more likely to move within the same state, with 3% moving interstate compared with 5% of reference persons in non-Indigenous households.

HOUSING HISTORY(a), 1999

Indigenous household reference person
Non-Indigenous household reference person
%
%

Years in current dwelling
    One or less
41.6
25.6
    Two
9.6
7.9
    Three
6.9
5.8
    Four
4.8
5.0
    Five or more
37.1
55.7
Number of times moved in the last 5 years
    None
37.1
55.7
    Once
16.8
17.6
    Twice
11.4
8.2
    Three or more
32.3
17.2
    Area of previous dwelling(b)
    Same suburb/town/locality
48.2
39.1
    Same State/Territory
48.8
53.3
    Different State/Territory
3.0
5.4

(a) Housing history describes the experience of a household’s reference person. The reference person is the person (in order of importance) with either the: highest tenure type, highest income, or the eldest person in the household.
(b) Applies only to household reference persons who had been in their current dwelling less than nine years.

Source: 1999 Australian Housing Survey, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Results (ABS cat. no. 4712.0).


Endnotes
1 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission, Issues, <URL:http://www.hreoc.gov.au/social_justice/index.html> (Accessed 7 March 2001).



Previous PageNext Page

Bookmark and Share. Opens in a new window


Commonwealth of Australia 2014

Unless otherwise noted, content on this website is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 Australia Licence together with any terms, conditions and exclusions as set out in the website Copyright notice. For permission to do anything beyond the scope of this licence and copyright terms contact us.