1370.0 - Measures of Australia's Progress, 2010  
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 15/09/2010   
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Housing provides people with shelter, security, and privacy. Having an adequate and appropriate place to live is fundamental to people's wellbeing. Improvements to the overall accessibility of appropriate housing for Australians is important in determining whether life in Australia is getting better.

Most Australian households are able to exercise a significant degree of housing choice when making their consumption, savings, and investment decisions. But some Australian households face problems in accessing suitable housing, for a number of reasons such as discrimination, availability, location or cost. For some Australians renting is a personal preference. But for many low income households, renting is often the only affordable option, and suitable rental dwellings can become less accessible when rents rise faster than incomes. Moreover, as housing costs are often the largest regular expense to be met out of a household's income, rising housing costs can influence the amount of income households have available to meet other needs.

A primary focus, then, for an indicator with which to measure housing progress is one that focuses on that part of the population who have very limited housing choice. For people living in low income households, housing affordability is primarily related to the access of shelter. This is in contrast to people who live in higher income households, for whom greater income facilitates a wider range of housing choices, including purchase. An indicator that tells us about how well those with limited economic resources can access shelter is therefore important when assessing whether housing in Australia is getting better.

The headline indicator chosen for housing access - low income rental affordability - is the proportion of housing costs to household income for low income renters (both private and public renters) in Australia. A rise in this indicator reflects increasing difficulty for those with limited choice to both access suitable shelter and meet other costs of living. Conversely, a fall in the indicator reflects less financial pressure on low income households to meet their 'after housing costs' budget.

Measures of the levels of rental stress, home ownership, and housing affordability for home buyers are included as supplementary indicators of the overall state of housing in Australia. Information on house prices and levels of housing investment, and housing issues for specific population groups, is also provided.

Homelessness is not discussed in this section. Homelessness is more often influenced by social factors associated with mental illness, long-term unemployment, family and relationship breakdowns, etc, rather than with aspects of housing per se. Homelessness is discussed in the Family, community and social cohesion section.

For a full list of definitions, please see the Housing glossary.


  • Housing glossary
  • Housing references

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