4710.0 - Housing and Infrastructure in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Communities, Australia, 1999  
Previous ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 27/04/2000   
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April 27, 2000
Embargoed: 11:30 AM (AEST)

Survey shows Housing and Infrastructure difficulties faced by Indigenous Communities

A recent survey undertaken by the Australian Bureau of Statistics has shown that many discrete Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities experience difficulties with their water supply, sewerage systems, power supply and the condition of housing.

Survey results on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander discrete communities and housing organisations were released today by the ABS. The survey was commissioned and funded by the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission.

Of the 18,565 dwellings in discrete Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander communities, 2,284 (12 percent) were occupied temporary dwellings and the remaining 16,281 were classified as permanent dwellings. Over 90 percent of the permanent dwellings were community owned or managed, with one third (33 percent) of these requiring major repair or replacement.

While almost all permanent dwellings had the basic services of water, power and sewerage systems connected, the survey indicates that there were substantial problems with the operation of these services. Of the 348 communities with a population of 50 or more, 58 had their water supply fail water testing, 57 had frequent power interruptions and 204 had leakages or overflows in their sewerage system in the 12 months prior to the survey.

During the time of the survey there were almost 1,300 locations identified as discrete Indigenous communities. These communities had a combined population of 109,994 people, or approximately 27 percent of the estimated total Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population.

Other indicators of community access to infrastructure showed that 87 percent of people living in discrete communities had a primary school located within 10 kilometres of their community and 90 percent of people had access to a first aid clinic within 25 kilometres of their community.

In 1999 more than 700 Indigenous housing organisations were identified. They owned or managed a total of 20,424 dwellings (including those in discrete communities), of which 29 percent were in need of major repair or replacement. A total of $39 million was spent on repairs and maintenance of the dwellings owned or managed by these organisations in the 12 months prior to the survey, an average per dwelling expenditure of $1,942. During the financial year prior to the survey 69 percent of dwellings were reported as undergoing some form of maintenance and repair.

These organisations collected a total of $36.5 million in rent in the financial year prior to the survey, with an average weekly rental of $35 per dwelling.

The most common sources of income for housing organisations during the financial year prior to the survey were rent (88 percent), and government housing grants (56 percent) . Almost half (48 percent) relied on voluntary labour for their operations.

Details are in Housing and Infrastructure in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Communities (cat. no. 4710.0) available from ABS bookshops. The summary of the main findings can be found on this site. If you wish to purchase a copy of this publication, contact the ABS Bookshop in your capital city.