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1301.0 - Year Book Australia, 2008  
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Contents >> Housing >> Housing assistance

HOUSING ASSISTANCE

This section was contributed by the Australian Government Department of Families, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs (August 2007).

While most Australians are able to house themselves with little or no government assistance, such assistance remains an important social safety net. Broadly, this social safety net falls into three categories: payments to individuals; programs to increase the supply of public and community housing; and measures to assist those who are most disadvantaged. Indigenous housing assistance is a combination of these measures and is discussed separately.


Payments to individuals - rent assistance

Rent Assistance is a non-taxable Australian Government payment available to income support recipients to assist with the cost of housing in the private rental market. Rent can include private rent, lodgings, board and lodgings, site fees, fees to moor a vessel, or service and maintenance fees in a retirement village.

To be eligible for Rent Assistance, a person must first pay rent above a certain threshold level. Rent Assistance is then paid at the rate of 75 cents in each dollar above the threshold, until a maximum amount is reached. Maximum rates and thresholds vary depending on a person's family situation. Rent Assistance is indexed twice-yearly, in March and September (by the increase in the Consumer Price Index).

On 8 June 2007, 943,718 income units were recorded by Centrelink as entitled to Rent Assistance for that date. An income unit is defined as a single person with or without dependant children, or a couple with or without dependant children. The average rent paid by Rent Assistance recipients was $326 per fortnight while the average Rent Assistance received was $87 per fortnight (table 10.25).

A large proportion of Rent Assistance recipients are either single people or sole parents. In June 2007, 51% of Rent Assistance recipients were single with no dependent children, 24% were single with dependent children, 16% were couples with dependent children and 9% were couples without dependent children.

Outlays on Rent Assistance are included in the total expenditure on Pensions, Allowances and Family Tax Benefits, details of which are provided in the Income and welfare chapter.


10.25 RECIPIENTS OF RENT ASSISTANCE, Average rent assistance and rent paid - 8 June 2007

Individuals and families
Average rent assistance(a)
Average rent paid(b)
no.
$ per fortnight
$ per fortnight

All recipients
943 718
87
326
Primary payment type(c)
Parenting Payment (single)
180 615
100
383
Disability Support Pension
183 638
88
279
Age Pension
176 476
80
272
Newstart Allowance
156 044
84
289
Family Tax Benefit Part A
109 843
87
480
Youth Allowance
73 682
71
241
Parenting Payment (partnered)
30 799
114
449
Other
32 621
86
301
Income unit type
Single - no dependent children
482 547
80
251
Couple - no dependent children
82 048
82
343
Single - 1 or 2 dependent children
185 871
96
380
Single - 3 or more dependent children
36 501
112
422
Couple - 1 or 2 dependent children
106 530
93
457
Couple - 3 or more dependent children
47 394
108
479
Couple - temporarily separated
2 827
102
356

(a) Average Rent Assistance is taken to be 14 times the daily entitlement to Rent Assistance for 8 June 2007.
(b) Average rent is the average rent taken into account in working out entitlements for 8 June 2007.
(c) One member of a couple is treated as the reference person for the income unit, based on the type of payment they receive. The general order of priority is Pensions, Allowances, Family Tax Benefit. An income unit will be reported as receiving Parenting Payment (Partnered) only if neither member of the couple receives another social security payment. They will only be reported as receiving FTB Part A if neither receives a social security payment.
Source: Department of Families, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs.


Housing supply

Commonwealth State Housing Agreement (CSHA)

The CSHA is an agreement made between the Australian Government and state and territory governments under the Housing Assistance Act 1996 (Cwlth) to provide appropriate, affordable and secure housing assistance for those who most need it, for the duration of their need.

The current CSHA operates from July 2003 to June 2008. Its objectives include improving access to mainstream housing options for Indigenous people in urban and regional centres; supporting community development and the renewal of public housing estates; supporting wider government outcomes in health, education and labour market reform; and stimulating private sector investment in the supply of low cost housing.

The CSHA sets out the terms for the provision of housing assistance for rental housing, home purchase and other specific housing programs. The Australian Government contribution is estimated at $4.75 billion over the five-year agreement. Details of Australian Government assistance provided under the CSHA for 2006-07 are set out in table 10.26.

10.26 COMMONWEALTH STATE HOUSING AGREEMENT, Payments to states and territories - 2006-07

NSW
Vic.
Qld
WA
SA
Tas.
NT
ACT
Aust.

Base funding
245 255
182 145
144 240
73 137
55 746
21 753
13 366
16 991
752 633
Community Housing Program
22 092
16 407
12 993
6 588
5 022
1 582
664
1 061
66 409
Aboriginal Rental Housing Program
18 451
3 774
26 194
16 464
8 659
696
20 201
-
94 439
Crisis Accommodation Program
13 691
10 168
8 052
4 083
3 112
980
412
657
41 155
Total
299 489
212 494
191 479
100 272
72 539
25 011
34 643
18 709
954 636

- nil or rounded to zero (including null cells)
Source: Department of Families, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs.


Public housing

As at 30 June 2006 the number of CSHA funded public housing dwellings was 341,378 with an occupancy rate of 97.8%. Of the 333,968 households living in public housing, the majority were located in a major city (80%); only 2.2% were living in remote or very remote areas.

Of the households living in public housing, nearly 91% received a rental rebate and 91.9% received a government pension or benefit as the main source of income. Over half received either an age pension (26.9%) or a disability support pension (28.5%).

Over half (53.2%) of households in public housing were single adults. Sole-parent households comprised a further 21.4%, while couples with dependent children made up another 5.6%. Nearly 29% of public housing tenants were aged 65 years and over; only 3.1% were aged under 25 years. The age profile was younger in Tasmania, the Australian Capital Territory and the Northern Territory than in other jurisdictions.

Community housing

Community housing is funded under the CSHA and has a valuable role in effectively and efficiently delivering housing to a broad range of tenant groups. Community housing is operated by non-government organisations, such as church groups, charity and community organisations, and offers tenants subsidised housing with the opportunity to participate in its management, or to have an appointed housing manager.

As at 30 June 2006, community housing stock comprised just 7.7% of the total national social housing stock. In 2006 there were 29,693 community housing dwellings, now referred to as 'tenancy (rental) units', across Australia.

There were 28,582 households occupying community housing. Of these households, over a quarter (27%) had a household member with a disability and 12.5% were from a non-English speaking background. Of the principal tenants in community housing 8.7% were aged over 75 years and 6.7% were aged under 24 years.

The number of new community households assisted at 30 June 2006 was 6,489. Of those new households assisted, 41.5% were allocated to homeless people.

Access to public and community housing

Under the CSHA, priority access to public and community housing is given to individuals or groups who meet eligibility criteria such as having a 'special needs status' or 'greatest needs status'. These people are allocated public or community housing as a priority due to the following:

'Special needs status'
  • having a household member with a disability; or
  • where the principal tenant is aged 24 years or under; or
  • where the principal tenant is aged 75 years or more; or
  • where the household satisfies the Indigenous household definition.

'Greatest need status'
  • they were homeless; or
  • their life or safety was at risk in their accommodation (due to domestic violence, for example); or
  • their health condition was aggravated by their housing; or
  • their housing was inappropriate to their needs; or
  • they had very high rental housing costs.
Home purchase assistance (HPA)

First home purchasers have been eligible for financial assistance under the First Home Owner Grant (FHOG) since July 2000. The initial grant of $7,000 was supplemented during 2001 by an additional $7,000 (for a total of $14,000) to all first home buyers who purchased a newly built home. The FHOG is a non-CSHA grant and is not means tested.

CSHA funded HPA is provided by some states to assist low-to-moderate income households to purchase a home or to provide help with mortgage repayments. Some of the mechanisms used to assist low-to-moderate income earners include loans, shared equity schemes, deposit assistance and mortgage relief.


Helping those most in need

Supported Accommodation Assistance Program (SAAP)

SAAP provides emergency and transitional supported accommodation and related services to people who are homeless or at risk of homelessness.

In 2005-06 SAAP assisted approximately 106,500 homeless persons and 54,700 accompanying children through 1,300 agencies across Australia. The number of people supported by SAAP agencies on a given day ranged from 21,800 to 24,000 in 2005-06.

Table 10.27 shows the number of people assisted by SAAP agencies from 2002 to 2006.

10.27 People assisted by SAAP agencies - 2002-2006

2002-03
2003-04
2004-05
2005-06

People assisted
Clients
97 611
100 262
100 350
106 563
Accompanying children
53 800
52 700
56 800
54 700
SAAP Agencies by target group
Young people
472
476
470
468
Single men only
95
97
92
91
Single women
47
47
49
47
Families
119
124
120
120
Women escaping domestic violence
286
289
291
296
General
263
267
272
278
Total
1 282
1 300
1 294
1 300

Source: Supported Accommodation Assistance Program National Data Collection Annual Reports.


The primary focus of SAAP agencies is to use a case management approach to support homeless people, including adults and children escaping domestic violence. Through this process, clients are offered a range of services including supported accommodation, counselling, advocacy, links to housing, health, education, employment services, outreach support, brokerage and meals services (table 10.27).

Crisis accommodation

The Crisis Accommodation Program (CAP) of the CSHA mainly funds the building, maintenance and renovation of crisis accommodation. In 2005-06 the total number of CAP dwellings nationally was 7,346.


Housing assistance for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples

In addition to the payments to individuals and housing assistance available to all Australians, there are a number of programs which are aimed at meeting the needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander (Indigenous) Australians.

The housing standards experienced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples tend to be lower than those experienced by other Australians. Housing standards tend to be lowest in remote area communities due to higher building and maintenance costs as a result of access and distance-related issues. Maintenance requirements are usually higher where environmental conditions are harsh, or where accommodation is insufficient, leading to overcrowding.

Overcrowding is of particular concern because it is associated with poor health outcomes. The 2004-05 National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Survey, conducted by the ABS, found around a quarter of the Indigenous population (27%) were living in overcrowded conditions i.e. in dwellings requiring at least one additional bedroom.

The proportion of Indigenous people living in overcrowded conditions rose with geographic remoteness, from 14% in major cities and inner regional areas to 63% of those in very remote areas. In addition, 29% of Indigenous adults in remote areas and 12% of Indigenous adults in non-remote areas reported overcrowding as a stressor.

According to the 2007 Overcoming Indigenous Disadvantage Report, released by the Productivity Commission, Indigenous people were hospitalised at higher rates than non-Indigenous people for all diseases associated with poor environmental health in 2004-05, especially influenza and pneumonia (at six times the rate), bacterial diseases (at five times the rate), intestinal infectious diseases (three times the rate) and upper respiratory infections (at twice the rate).

The 2006 Community Housing and Infrastructure Needs Survey, conducted by the ABS, collected information from 496 Indigenous Housing Organisations (IHOs) which managed a total of 21,854 permanent dwellings. The majority of these dwellings - 12,407 or 57% - were in very remote areas, with a further 2,441 (11%) in remote areas and 7,006 (32%) in non-remote areas. Of the permanent dwellings managed by IHOs in 2006, 69% required minor or no repairs and 30% required major repairs or replacement, an increase from the 27% reported in 2001. A larger proportion of dwellings in remote areas were in need of major repairs and replacement (36%) than dwellings managed by IHOs in very remote (30%) and non-remote (29%) areas.Community Housing and Infrastructure Program (CHIP)

The Australian Government Department of Families, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs administer a number of programs designed to improve the living environment of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, including the CHIP. The program aims to provide appropriate, safe and affordable housing and improve community and individual health and well being.

CHIP provides funds for the construction, purchase, repair and management of community housing as well as for the provision and maintenance of housing-related infrastructure (essential services such as water, sewerage, electricity and community roads) and recurrent funding for the provision of municipal services. Through CHIP, funding is provided to:
  • state and territory government housing authorities through bilateral agreements or
  • Indigenous community organisations directly.

In 2006-07, CHIP expenditure totalled $227.8m, of which around half went to the provision of housing and infrastructure. Most expenditure under the CHIP is in Queensland, Western Australia and the Northern Territory (table 10.28).

10.28 COMMUNITY HOUSING AND INFRASTRUCTURE PROGRAM EXPENDITURE -
2006-07

Expenditure
Proportion of total
$'000
%

NSW
16 920
7.4
Vic.
3 259
1.4
Qld
22 795
10.0
SA
20 266
9.0
WA
65 830
28.9
Tas.
2 956
1.3
NT
66 714
29.3
Other(a)
29 076
12.8
Aust.
227 817
100.0

(a) Activities funded having outcomes over multiple jurisdictions.
Source: Department of Families, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs.


CHIP supplements the efforts of state and territory governments who also receive Aboriginal Rental Housing Program funding ($94.4m for 2006-07) through the Commonwealth/State Housing Agreement.

State owned and managed Indigenous housing (SOMIH)

The primary purpose of SOMIH is to achieve more effective Indigenous housing outcomes and is funded under the CSHA Aboriginal Rental Housing Program. Recent priorities for this program have included a focus on providing housing in rural and remote areas, provision for maintenance and upgrades, and training for community housing providers in the Indigenous housing sector.

There were 12,386 households in SOMIH at 30 June 2006. Of these, 50% lived in regional areas; 9.7% in very remote areas. Only 35.4% of households lived in major cities.

Almost a quarter (22.5%) of households in SOMIH were single adults. Sole parent households comprised 42.8% of SOMIH households, while couples with dependent children made up 10.8%. Of SOMIH tenants, 9.8% were aged 65 years and over, while 6.1% were aged less than 25 years.


Home ownership

This section was contributed by Indigenous Business Australia (July 2007).

Indigenous Business Australia's Home Ownership Programme (IBA Homes) provides affordable home loan finance to eligible Indigenous people to assist in reducing the disparity between the rate of home ownership in Indigenous households and that in other Australian households. According to the 2006 Census, the home ownership rate for usual resident households with Indigenous person(s) was 36%, around half the rate for other usual resident households (71%).

IBA Homes provides home loans on concessional terms to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families. The scheme targets low income Indigenous families with the capacity to repay a long-term loan, but who have difficulty obtaining finance from traditional lending institutions. The loan portfolio currently includes 3,386 loans valued at $476.1m. In 2006-07, there were 508 new loans provided. Since the programme's establishment, it has helped in excess of 12,900 Indigenous families buy their own homes.Home Ownership on Indigenous Land (HOIL)

Historically, Indigenous Australians living on Indigenous community-titled land have not been able to buy their own homes because the land tenure was not secure enough to meet lenders' requirements. This has limited their ability to control living conditions, improve their long-term economic circumstances and transfer wealth to future generations.

On 5 October 2005, the Australian Government announced its intention to amend the Aboriginal Land Rights (Northern Territory) Act 1976 (Cwlth), in part to make long-term leases over community-titled land readily available to prospective Indigenous home owners. To complement these reforms, the HOIL Programme was established with funding of $7.3m. Under this programme IBA will provide affordable loans and other assistance to Indigenous families.

The HOIL programme is dependent on the legislative framework for land tenure in each state and territory. The Australian Government has been consulting with the states to effect the land tenure reform necessary to enable the programme to be fully implemented. In the 2006 Budget, the Australian Government announced a $107.4m expansion of HOIL over four years.


Residential age care

This section was contributed by the Australian Government Department of Health and Ageing (September 2007).

The Australian Government, through the Department of Health and Ageing, subsidises and regulates residential care for frail older people. Most residential care is provided by the non-government sector, including not-for-profit and private sector providers. Australian Government payments include subsidies paid to providers for the provision of care. Targeted capital assistance is also available to aged-care homes catering largely for residents with special needs or on low incomes, or located in rural and remote areas of Australia. Residents can also be asked to pay fees and charges toward their care costs.

The main types of care are low level (hostel) services and high level (nursing home) services. The rights of care recipients are protected and promoted through the Aged Care Complaints Investigation Scheme, advocacy services and the Community Visitors' Scheme. To receive funding, each aged care home must meet specific care and building standards and be accredited by the Aged Care Standards and Accreditation Agency.

The Australian Government subsidises the costs for each person in residential aged care according to their needs. In 2006-07, the average payment for residents receiving high level care was $45,200, and $16,200 for those receiving low level care.

Table 10.29 shows the number of aged care residents and table 10.30 shows expenditure on residential aged care.
10.29 NUMBER OF RESIDENTS OF AGED CARE HOMES - 30 June

1999
2000
2001
2002
2003
2004
2005
2006
2007
no.
no.
no.
no.
no.
no.
no.
no.
no.

NSW
47 991
48 086
48 345
48 979
49 851
51 134
52 469
53 166
54 216
Vic.
32 774
33 237
33 504
34 104
35 504
37 209
38 289
39 384
40 265
Qld
24 368
24 666
25 065
25 466
26 085
26 666
27 364
27 807
28 283
SA
13 178
13 242
13 203
13 268
13 830
14 425
14 918
15 276
15 533
WA
11 349
11 304
11 486
11 614
11 853
12 334
12 850
13 104
13 169
Tas.
3 709
3 716
3 748
3 781
3 896
3 975
4 071
4 167
4 153
NT
345
350
344
356
356
406
409
417
405
ACT
1 356
1 412
1 434
1 443
1 481
1 489
1 516
1 545
1 586
Aust.
135 070
136 013
137 129
139 011
142 856
147 638
151 886
154 866
157 610

Source: Department of Health and Ageing.

10.30 AUSTRALIAN GOVERNMENT EXPENDITURE ON RESIDENTIAL AGED CARE

Residential care (recurrent)
Capital grants
2003-04(a)
2004-05(a)
2005-06
2006-07
2003-04
2004-05
2005-06
2006-07
$m
$m
$m
$m
$m
$m
$m
$m

NSW
1 620.7
1 749.3
1 849.8
1 959.8
3.1
6.9
11.9
7.1
Vic.
1 122.9
1 237.2
1 316.8
1 396.4
5.2
5.1
9.7
12.5
Qld
819.0
903.0
953.7
1 005.0
4.2
7.8
8.1
7.3
SA
454.4
505.8
550.3
590.8
2.1
4.0
1.8
4.9
WA
369.7
414.0
441.1
465.2
0.6
1.4
2.2
6.3
Tas.
129.8
140.7
147.2
153.4
2.1
1.3
6.5
2.6
NT
14.8
15.9
17.7
17.3
-
2.1
0.5
2.9
ACT
44.1
48.0
51.6
54.2
-
-
-
-
Aust.(b)
4 592.1
5 021.5
5 333.6
(c)5 665.5
17.3
28.6
40.7
43.5

- nil or rounded to zero (including null cells)
(a) To enable comparison between years, these figures exclude a 'one-off' payment of $3,500 per resident ($518.7m) in 2003-04 and a $1,000 per resident payment ($152.0m) in 2004-05.
(b) Includes expenditure by the Department of Health and Ageing and the Department of Veterans' Affairs, in accrual terms.
(c) Includes $13.4m not yet allocated.
Source: Department of Health and Ageing.


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