4710.0 - Housing and Infrastructure in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Communities, Australia, 2006  
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 17/04/2007  Reissue
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1 The statistics presented in this publication represent an overview of data available from the 2006 Community Housing and Infrastructure Needs Survey (CHINS). The survey was conducted throughout Australia between March and June 2006 and collected information about all discrete Indigenous communities and Indigenous organisations that provide housing to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

2 The 2006 CHINS aimed to provide information which could be used to:

  • evaluate the current condition and adequacy of the infrastructure and facilities in discrete Indigenous communities, and the housing stock provided to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples by Indigenous organisations
  • identify the housing related income and expenditure of Indigenous Housing Organisations (IHOs)
  • contribute toward estimates of the cost of upgrading and/or establishing housing and infrastructure in discrete Indigenous communities to meet with benchmark standards
  • assist in the process of planning future development in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.

3 Topics covered by the 2006 CHINS include:
  • details of the current housing stock, dwelling management and selected income and expenditure arrangements of Indigenous organisations that provide housing to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples
  • details of housing and related infrastructure in discrete Indigenous communities such as water quality and supply, electricity supply, sewerage systems, drainage, rubbish collection and disposal
  • details of facilities available such as transport, communication, education, sport and health services, in discrete Indigenous communities.

4 An Advisory Group for the 2006 CHINS was established to guide the development of the survey. The Advisory Group comprised representatives from relevant government departments, information committees and research institutions who provided guidance in determining priorities for new content and in reducing content.

5 One of the principal information requirements of the 2006 CHINS was to maintain comparability with the 1999 and 2001 surveys so that the progress of programs implemented since the 1999 collection could be assessed. For more details on changes made to CHINS and the comparability between the 2001 and 2006 CHINS, refer to Appendix 1: Comparability between 2001 and 2006 CHINS of this publication.


6 Although called a survey, the 2006 CHINS was designed as a complete enumeration of all discrete Indigenous communities in Australia that were occupied between March and June 2006 or were intended to be reoccupied within 12 months, and of all IHOs managing housing for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, whether in discrete communities or not. This included organisations and communities located in urban, rural and remote areas in all states and territories of Australia.

7 In the following instances, organisations were considered to be out of scope of CHINS and, as a result, data were not collected:

  • organisations which were in liquidation or receivership at the time of enumeration
  • government departments that manage Indigenous housing
  • communities found to be unoccupied at the time of the CHINS and which were not expected to be reoccupied within the following 12 months.

8 Where large IHOs such as Resource Agencies, were found to manage the housing stock of a series of smaller organisations, information was collected from, and incorporated in the output of, the larger organisation, and the smaller organisations were considered to be out of scope.


9 The 2006 CHINS survey frame, which provided the units for enumeration, included:

  • all discrete Indigenous communities and IHOs enumerated in the 2001 CHINS
  • discrete Indigenous communities and IHOs which had been established since the 2001 survey
  • units which were out of scope at the time of the 2001 CHINS were reviewed and included on the 2006 frame if they were now identified as being in scope.

10 To ensure that duplicate records for IHOs and communities were not generated due to the widespread use of alternative names and spellings, geographic information such as latitude and longitude were used to validate both communities and IHOs. There was also extensive liaison with State Housing Authorities to ensure that housing stock details on the frame were current.


11 The 2006 CHINS data were collected in conjunction with field preparations for the 2006 Census of Population and Housing. Data collection was undertaken by Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) Census Field Officers (CFOs) during their public relations visits to Indigenous communities and IHOs over the period March to June 2006 and through telephone follow-up from July to November 2006.

12 The 2006 CHINS data were collected at the discrete Indigenous community and IHO level. Personal interviews were conducted with key community and IHO representatives knowledgeable about housing and infrastructure issues. These data providers included: community council chairpersons; council clerks; housing officers; water and essential service officers; and health clinic administrators.

13 The interviews were conducted by trained ABS officers. All interviewers were required to demonstrate a knowledge and understanding of the social and cultural issues affecting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and their communities, and an ability to communicate effectively and sensitively with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations and peoples. Extensive reference documentation was developed for the field enumeration and intensive training was provided to interviewers in both classroom and on-the-job environments.

14 The ABS has recruited Indigenous Engagement Managers (IEMs) in each Regional Office (except ACT) as part of the ABS's Indigenous Community Engagement Strategy. The IEMs facilitate a range of survey and Census activities with Indigenous people across both urban and remote areas. They build and maintain networks with Indigenous communities and organisations, advise on appropriate materials to raise statistical awareness and provide support to Indigenous communities and organisations on use of and access to statistical information. The IEMs liaise extensively both within the ABS and with external organisations and data users. The IEMs played an important role in facilitating the collection of the 2006 CHINS data.

15 Interviewers collected information for the 2006 CHINS using Computer Assisted Interviewing (CAI). Responses were recorded directly onto electronic questionnaires on a notebook computer. The notebook computer was used to record, store, manipulate and transmit the data collected during interviews.

16 In the 2006 CHINS, two electronic questionnaires were used to collect the data:

  • The Housing questionnaire which collected information about Indigenous organisations that manage housing provided to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in discrete Indigenous communities, towns and other localities. Data were collected on a range of topics, including housing income and expenditure, type and condition of housing stock, dwelling acquisitions and disposals.
  • The Community questionnaire which collected detailed infrastructure information from all discrete Indigenous communities with a reported usual population of 50 persons or more, as well as for communities which have a reported usual population of less than 50 persons but which are not administered by a larger discrete Indigenous community or Resource Agency. The infrastructure information collected included details of water supply and quality, electricity and gas supply, sewerage systems, drainage and rubbish collection and disposal. Information on transport and telecommunications, as well as access to education, health, sport and other community facilities was also collected. As in 2001, in order to reduce the reporting load on respondents, all other communities with a reported usual population of less than 50 persons were asked a subset of questions from the Community questionnaire - information for these small communities was collected from the larger administering community or Resource Agency responsible for the provision and maintenance of their services.


17 The estimates contained in this publication are not subject to sampling error as the CHINS was designed as a complete enumeration of all units in scope (see paragraph 6 above). The estimates provided in this publication are, however, subject to non-sampling error and this should be taken into account when interpreting the data.

18 Three sources of non-sampling error which may affect the CHINS results are:

  • The inability to obtain data from all in scope units.
  • Errors in reporting on the part of both respondents and interviewers. These reporting errors may arise through a lack of knowledge of the data required, the inability to provide accurate information, or mistakes in recording answers to questions. For instance, a community's usual population was generally estimated by the community representative without reference to community records. This methodology is considered to be less reliable than a population count as undertaken in the 2006 Census of Population and Housing.
  • Errors arising during data processing. These processing errors may arise during coding, data entry, editing or the derivation of estimates.

19 Non-sampling errors are difficult to measure in any collection; however, every effort was made to minimise these errors. In particular, the effect of reporting and processing errors described above in paragraph 17 was minimised by: clear and concise questionnaire design; extensive supporting documentation such as data item definitions; the training and supervision of interviewers; encouraging respondents to refer to administrative records whenever possible; by extensive editing and quality control checking at all stages of data collection and processing, including infield checks as part of CAI; and data confrontation against administrative records where available.

20 In addition to the survey instrument and methodology testing conducted prior to the previous CHINS in 1999 and 2001, national, state and territory, and regional aggregate data from the 2006 CHINS have been compared with those collected in 2001. For the 2006 CHINS, checks were also conducted on related data items for consistency. For example, that increases in stock were consistent with population increases, other ABS data sources and increases in rent.

21 For a number of key items, a comparison of 2001 and 2006 data was also made at the community or IHO unit record level. Where significantly different responses were observed, organisations and communities were re-contacted to determine whether the data was the result of a difference in interpretation by different key respondents or whether the 2006 survey was measuring real change.

22 Results from the validation processes have indicated that aggregate data, as presented in this publication, are considered to be fit for the purpose intended. However, caution should be used in analysing a number of data items, as outlined in the following paragraphs.

IHO income and expenditure

23 Financial data was collected on a voluntary basis, i.e. IHOs did not have to provide this information when completing the CHINS survey. No adjustments for non-response have been made to the CHINS income and expenditure data.

24 In some instances, detailed housing financial records were unavailable due to data being audited, records being with accountants, or financial records only available for the entire operations of the Indigenous organisation. At time of collection, respondents were asked to provide careful estimates. Contact was made, at a later date, with accountants and financial officers to obtain and/or confirm reported financial data.

25 Care should be exercised when comparing 2001 and 2006 rental income and repairs and maintenance expenditure as values presented are valued in current prices at the time data were collected.

26 In order to compare price change over time, the ABS produces price indexes. Price indexes provide an average of price changes by measuring a group of related priced items between one reference period and another.

27 For the purposes of CHINS and analysis of IHO income and expenditure data, no index exists which prices the goods and services that form IHO income and expenditure or that cover all remoteness areas. For that reason, no attempt has been made to adjust IHO income and expenditure data to present data on a constant prices basis.

28 However, to provide users with an indication of the impact on price movements, the Consumer Price Index (CPI) All Groups, Weighted Average of Eight Capital Cities, Index Number was 133.8 for the quarter ending June 2001 and 154.3 for the quarter ending June 2006, representing an increase of 15.3 per cent over the five year period. To allow comparison between 2001 and 2006 prices, and assuming the CPI index is an appropriate measure to use, the 2001 values would need to be inflated by 15.3 per cent so that direct comparisons with 2006 data could be made.

29 For further details on price indexes and information on general matters to consider when using ABS published indexes refer to Australian Consumer Price Index: Concepts, Sources and Methods, 2005 (cat. no. 6461.0).

30 Care should also be exercised when analysing the results relating to financial years. In the 2006 CHINS, IHOs reported data for the financial year 2004-05. However in 2001, some IHOs reported their financial arrangements on a calendar year basis while others reported on a financial year basis. As a result, 'financial year' data in the 2001 CHINS is variously based on the periods January to December 2000, and July 1999 to June 2000.


31 CHINS population counts were collected from a key informant of the IHO and cross checked with a key informant from the community. Caution should be exercised in making comparisons with Census counts at all geographic levels. While the Census counts the number of people usually resident at a given location, CHINS counts often reflect a service population and are generally rounded-up by the key informant. In some instances, the IHO key informant may have little direct contact with the community and be located significant distances from the community.

Permanent dwellings

32 For number of dwellings maintained, some degree of estimation was involved as maintenance records were not always available or accessed.

33 For number of bedrooms, some degree of estimation was involved as records were not always available or accessed.

34 For condition of permanent dwellings, some degree of estimation was involved as no dwelling inspections were undertaken for the CHINS.

Sewerage systems

35 For sewerage systems, the distinction was not always clear between town system and community maintained full water-borne system and between septic tanks with common effluent disposal and septic tanks with leach drain.


36 For distance to schools up to Year 10 and Year 12, on some instances, respondents reported the distance students travelled to their school of choice at that level, not the distance from the nearest available school. Reporting was also affected by some misunderstandings in the field as to what constitutes a school to those levels.


37 For a full listing of 2006 CHINS output and related products, refer to Appendix 3: Survey Output and Dissemination.