4710.0 - Housing and Infrastructure in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Communities, Australia, 2006  
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 20/08/2007  Reissue
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The 2006 CHINS collected information on the status of housing, infrastructure, education, health and other services available in discrete Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities throughout Australia. The 2006 CHINS also collected selected information on Indigenous organisations that provide rental housing to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. The information collected from these organisations, referred to as Indigenous Housing Organisations (IHOs), included details of the housing stock, dwelling management and selected income and expenditure arrangements.

Data in CHINS are presented using the Australian Standard Geographical Classification (ASGC) remoteness structure. The purpose of the remoteness structure is to classify Census Districts (CDs) which share common characteristics of remoteness into broad geographical regions called Remoteness Areas (RAs). There are six RAs in the structure, however only five RAs are presented in CHINS, with Migratory excluded as being not applicable to CHINS. The RAs in CHINS are:

  • Major cities of Australia
  • Inner Regional Australia
  • Outer Regional Australia
  • Remote Australia
  • Very remote Australia.

For further details, refer to Statistical Geography Volume 1: Australian Standard Geographical Classification (ASGC), 2006 (cat. no. 1216.0).


The 2006 CHINS collected information from 496 IHOs which managed a total of 21,854 permanent dwellings. The total number of IHOs decreased by 120 from 616 IHOs in the 2001 survey. The decrease is largely attributed to changes to the management arrangements for IHOs in recent years. While the total number of IHOs declined between 2001 and 2006, the number of permanent dwellings managed by these organisations increased by 567 to 21,854 over that period. Of these, the majority 12,407 (57%) were in very remote areas, followed by 7,006 (32%) in non-remote areas and 2,441 (11%) in remote areas.

Selected findings in relation to IHOs and their housing stock were:

  • Each IHO managed an average of 44 permanent dwellings in 2006, compared to an average of 35 permanent dwellings in 2001.
  • Of the permanent dwellings managed by IHOs, 69 per cent required minor or no repairs. In 2006, 30 per cent of permanent dwellings required major repairs or replacement, an increase from the 27 per cent reported in 2001.
  • Permanent dwellings managed by IHOs in remote areas were more in need of major repairs and replacement (36%) than dwellings managed by IHOs in very remote (30%) and non-remote (29%) areas.
  • The total reported maintenance expenditure for the financial year 2004-05 was $37.4 million and accounted for 29 per cent of total IHO expenditure.
  • Average maintenance expenditure per IHO managed permanent dwelling was $2,060, which was 10 per cent more than reported in 2001.
  • The total reported rental income collected for the financial year 2004-05 was $47.5 million, an increase from the $42.1 million reported in 2001.
  • Average weekly rent received per IHO managed permanent dwelling was $48, an increase from the $38 reported in 2001.
  • A total of 1,447 (7%) of IHO managed permanent dwellings were unoccupied, the majority of which were located in very remote localities. Uninhabitable dwellings or dwellings being repaired accounted for almost half the unoccupied dwellings.
  • Permanent dwelling acquisitions exceeded dwelling disposals. The total of 670 acquisitions, of which 516 (77%) were newly built dwellings and 154 (23%) purchased dwellings, was partly offset by 490 permanent dwellings being disposed of, with 95 per cent of these written-off or demolished.

The following chart provides information about the number of IHOs and the dwellings they manage by remoteness area.



For the purpose of CHINS, a discrete Indigenous community is defined as a geographic location, bounded by physical or cadastral boundaries, and inhabited predominantly by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. For more details, refer to Discrete Indigenous Community in the Glossary.

The following discrete Indigenous communities were classified in the 2001 Urban Centre Localities Classification as Urban Centres based on the census populations being 1,000 people or more: Palm Island, Yarrabah, Doomadgee and Cherbourg in Queensland, Wadeye, Maningrida, Nguiu and Galiwinku in the Northern Territory. All of these places are towns that could be expected to have a similar level of services to equivalent sized non-Indigenous communities.

In the 2006 CHINS, information was collected for 1,187 discrete Indigenous communities, down 29 from 1,216 in 2001. The decline is largely due to a number of small discrete communities being abandoned and not expected to be reoccupied in the future. In total, 17,177 permanent dwellings were reported in discrete Indigenous communities, of which 15,655 were IHO managed.

The total reported usual population of all discrete Indigenous communities in 2006 was 92,960, down 15,125 from the reported 108,085 in 2001. Population counts from the 2001 CHINS were higher than recorded in the 2001 Census of Population and Housing, and were believed to be overstated. The change in the 2006 counts can be attributed to improvements in data quality through the use of computer assisted interviewing and additional field edit checks. For more details on data quality, refer to paragraphs 17 to 36 of the Explanatory Notes in this publication and, for more information on population counts, refer to Appendix 2: Population Measures.

Selected findings in relation to discrete Indigenous communities were:

  • A total of 865 communities (73%) reported a usual population of less than 50, down from 889 in 2001.
  • Of the 92,960 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people reported as living in discrete Indigenous communities, a total of 4,039 people (4%) were reported as living in temporary dwellings. This compares with 5,602 people (5% of the total population of 108,085 in discrete Indigenous communities) in 2001.
  • Bore water continues to be the main source of drinking water for Indigenous communities being used by 58% of communities, compared to 64% in 2001. More communities obtained their drinking water from adjacent town water systems in 2006, 18% compared to 15% in 2001. The number of communities with no organised water supply has dropped from 21 in 2001 to 9 in 2006.
  • There were 274 communities connected to state grid as the main source of electricity in 2006, an increase of 5 per cent since 2001. The most common main source of electricity was community generators reported in 32% of communities, followed by state grid (23%), solar and solar hybrid (18%), and domestic generators (15%).
  • A total of 630 communities (53%) reported public access to a telephone within the community, compared with 597 (49%) in 2001.
  • A total of 136 discrete Indigenous communities (11%) had public access to the Internet.
  • A total of 245 discrete Indigenous communities (21%) reported a primary school located within the community, 49 communities (4%) reported a secondary school up to year 10, and 40 communities (3%) a secondary school to year 12. While there was a decrease of 18 (27%) in the number of communities with a secondary school up to year 10, 14 of these communities are now reporting a secondary school up to Year 12 located in the community. The number of discrete Indigenous communities that had a secondary school up to year 12 increased, up 23 (135%) from 17 discrete Indigenous communities in 2001 to 40 communities in 2006.
The following chart provides information about the number of discrete Indigenous communities, their reported populations and the permanent dwellings they contain. It also classifies them by remoteness area.

Diagram: 1.2 Discrete Indigenous Communities – 2006