Community Housing and Infrastructure Needs Survey

   Page tools:

    Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS)


    The Community Housing and Infrastructure Needs Survey (CHINS) aims to provide information which could be used to assist government agencies in policy decisions, program development, and targeting of funding to discrete Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities most in need. Information collected includes:

    details of the current housing stock, management practices and financial arrangements of Indigenous organisations that provide housing to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people; and,

    details of housing and related infrastructure such as water, electricity, sewerage, drainage and solid waste disposal, as well as other facilities such as transport, communication, education, sport and health services, available in discrete Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.


    The Community Housing and Infrastructure Needs Survey (CHINS) is conducted so that reliable national statistics on Indigenous housing and infrastructure in discrete communities could be produced. Data will inform a number of policy and decision making processes relating to the needs based allocation of funding (Commonwealth, State and regional) to Indigenous communities and Indigenous housing organisations for housing and infrastructure.

    CHINS data also provides performance information to assist in the evaluation of the Indigenous community housing sector and inform regional housing policy and program development. Similarly information collected regarding access to health facilities and services and exposure to environmental health risks informs health policy at various government and non-government levels.

    Finally, CHINS data contributes to the national dataset on Indigenous housing and community infrastructure. The 2001 collection was conducted just prior to the 2001 Census of Population and Housing to enable the combination of CHINS and Census data during statistical analysis.


    Although called a survey, the Community Housing and Infrastructure Needs Survey (CHINS) is a complete enumeration of all Indigenous housing organisations and discrete Indigenous communities. This includes organisations and communities located in urban and sparsely settled areas in all Australian States and Territories.

    In cases where a small Indigenous housing organisation owned dwellings which were managed by a larger housing organisation, such as a Resource Agency, information was collected from the larger organisation. The smaller organisation was then considered to be out of scope with the dwellings involved being included in the dwelling counts from the larger Indigenous housing organisation.

    Organisations which did not manage housing for Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander people, or were in liquidation or receivership at the time of enumeration, were considered out of scope. Communities found to be unoccupied and which were not expected to be reoccupied in the next 12 months were also considered out of scope.


    Conceptual framework

    Not applicable

    Main outputs

    The main outputs available from the Community Housing and Infrastructure Needs Survey (CHINS) are:


    • All communities (including outstations)
    • All outstations
    • All communities excluding outstations
    • Communities with permanent dwellings
    • Communities with permanent dwellings, excluding outstations
    • All Indigenous housing organisations that manage housing stock which contains permanent dwellings
    • All dwellings
    • All permanent dwellings
    • All community managed permanent dwellings

    Community/Outstation topics:
    • Community population and general facilities
    • Drinking water source, restrictions and quality
    • Electricity source and interruptions
    • Sewerage system, overflows and drainage
    • Rubbish collection and disposal
    • Road and air access
    • Communications
    • Access to education, health and sporting facilities
    • Community housing

    Indigenous housing organisation topics:
    • Current housing stock
    • Management practices
    • Source of funds
    • Rental income
    • Maintenance expenditure
    • Dwelling details, occupancy and condition


    Endorsed Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) standard definitions and classifications were used in the 2001 Community Housing and Infrastructure Needs Survey (CHINS) where available. However, due to the unique nature of the CHINS subject matter, most data items derived from the survey do not have a currently endorsed ABS standard. Experts in the area of Indigenous community housing and infrastructure provided input into the development of the data item definitions and classifications where no ABS standards exist.

    The standard ABS classifications available from the CHINS are:

    • Australian Standard Geographical Classification (ASGC)
    • Dwelling Structure
    • Number of Bedrooms

    Other concepts (summary)

    Discrete Indigenous community

    A geographic location, bounded by physical or cadastral (legal) boundaries, and inhabited or intended to be inhabited predominantly by Indigenous people, with housing or infrastructure that is either owned or managed on a community basis. This definition covers discrete communities in urban, rural and remote areas.

    Outstation or homeland

    A discrete Indigenous community that has a population of less than 50 people AND administered by, or linked to, an organisation such as a Resource Agency or larger parent discrete Indigenous community for the provision and maintenance of services.

    Resource Agency

    An Indigenous agency set up to provide a range of services for people living in small remote communities. These services will usually, but not always, include dealings with government agencies, funding applications, banking, housing and other essential services.

    Indigenous housing organisation

    Any Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander organisation which is responsible for managing community housing. Managing includes at least one of the following functions:

    tenancy arrangements;

    rent collection; or,

    housing maintenance.

    New South Wales
    South Australia
    Western Australia
    Northern Territory
    Statistical Local Area
    Census Collection District
    Urban Centre/Locality
    Section of State
    Part of State Metropolitan
    Part of State Extra-Metropolitan
    Other (specify below)

    Comments and/or Other Regions

    While data were collected down to the Census Collection District (CD) level, the lowest levels of geographic information released from the Community Housing and Infrastructure Needs Survey (CHINS) are the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission (ATSIC) Region and the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) CD derived ATSIC Region. Output will also be available for broad Accessibility/ Remoteness Index of Australia (ARIA) based regions.


    Frequency comments

    The Community Housing and Infrastructure Needs Survey (CHINS) was initially conducted in 1999 and has been run again in 2001. The feasibility of any future collections will be determined after an evaluation of the 2001 survey.


    The Community Housing and Infrastructure Needs Survey (CHINS) was conducted in 1999 and 2001


    Data availability comments

    The results of the 1999 CHINS are currently available in the publication Housing and Infrastructure in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Communities, Australia (ABS Cat. No. 4710.0) and specialised product format. Customised tables can also be produced upon request.

    Housing and Infrastructure in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Communities, Australia (ABS Cat. No. 4710.0), containing results from the 2001 Community Housing and Infrastructure Needs Survey (CHINS), will be released in February 2002. The release of the publication will be eight months after the completion of enumeration. Additional products produced specifically for ATSIC such as a Data Dictionary; Regional, Indigenous community and Indigenous housing organisation profiles; and a Confidentialised Unit Record File (CURF) will be released within ten months of the completion of enumeration.

    06/06/2002 12:04 PM