Housing has been identified as a major factor affecting the health of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. Indigenous households are over-represented in social housing and have below average rates of home ownership. The poor quality of some housing can impact on the health and wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. Overcrowding, poor dwelling condition and inadequate basic utilities can pose serious health risks. Indigenous people are also vulnerable to homelessness because of their social and economic disadvantage.
Housing assistance programs are especially important for Indigenous people as they are generally aimed at people on low incomes or those with special needs (box 4.5). A large proportion of Indigenous households rent their accommodation through social housing programs such as public housing or Indigenous community housing. For those in the private rental market, rent assistance programs provide an important income supplement for lower income households. Housing assistance programs also play a role in relation to homelessness both by directly assisting homeless people and by helping those at risk of homelessness.
This chapter describes the characteristics of Indigenous households and their housing circumstances. It includes data on tenure type and housing assistance, location and housing costs. The chapter examines the relationship between housing and health, and provides data on those housing characteristics that may contribute to poor health outcomes - overcrowding, dwelling condition and housing-related infrastructure. The final part of the chapter focuses on those who are most disadvantaged in relation to housing, namely homeless people. Detailed information on the characteristics of homeless people is provided through data from the national Supported Accommodation Assistance Program (SAAP) data collection.