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Commonwealth State Housing Agreement (CSHA)
The CSHA was an agreement made between the Australian Government and state and territory governments under the Housing Assistance Act 1996 (Cwlth) to provide appropriate, affordable and secure housing assistance for those who most needed it, for the duration of their need.
The most recent CSHA operated from July 2003 to December 2008 and provided $5.2 billion over the five and a half year period. Its objectives included improving access to mainstream housing options for Indigenous people in urban and regional centres; supporting community development and the renewal of public housing estates; supporting wider government outcomes in health, education and labour market reform; and stimulating private sector investment in the supply of low cost housing.
The CSHA was replaced by the National Affordable Housing Agreement, which commenced on 1 January 2009.
National Affordable Housing Agreement (NAHA)
The NAHA provides a framework for governments to work together to improve housing affordability, reduce homelessness and reduce Indigenous housing disadvantage. As part of the new Agreement, governments have committed to undertake reforms in the housing sector, including to:
The NAHA is primarily supported by National Partnerships on Social Housing, Homelessness and Remote Indigenous Housing. The Social Housing Initiative also contributes to the objectives of the NAHA.
The Social Housing National Partnership Agreement provides $400 million to the states and territories over two years in 2008-09 and 2009-10 as capital funding to increase the supply of social housing by at least 1600 dwellings.
As at 30 June 2008 the number of public housing dwellings was 337,866, with an occupancy rate of 98%, or 331,136 households. The majority of public housing dwellings were located in a major city (73%); only 2% were located in remote or very remote areas.
Of the households living in public housing, 88% received a rental rebate and of these 91% received a government pension or benefit as the main source of income. Over half received either an age pension (28%) or a disability support pension (30%).
Over half (55%) of those households in public housing paying rebated rents were single adults. Sole-parent households comprised a further 20%, while couples with dependent children made up another 5%. Public housing tenants aged 65 years and over comprised 29%; only 3% were aged under 25 years. The age profile was younger in Tasmania, the Australian Capital Territory and the Northern Territory than in other jurisdictions.
Community housing has a valuable role in effectively and efficiently delivering housing to a broad range of tenant groups. Community housing is operated by non-government organisations, such as church groups, charity and community organisations, and offers tenants subsidised housing with the opportunity to participate in its management, or to have an appointed housing manager.
As at 30 June 2008, community housing stock comprised 9% of the total national social housing stock, with 36,079 community housing dwellings, now referred to as 'tenancy (rental) units', across Australia.
There were 35,667 households occupying community housing at 30 June 2008. Of these households, over a quarter (28%) had a household member with a disability and 14% were from a non-English speaking background. Of the principal tenants in community housing, 8% were aged over 75 years and 7% were aged under 24 years.
The number of newly assisted community households in the twelve months to 30 June 2008 was 8,728. Of those new households assisted, 36% were previously homeless.
Priority access to public and community housing is given to individuals or groups who meet eligibility criteria such as having a 'special needs status' or 'greatest needs status'. These people are allocated public or community housing as a priority due to the following:
'Special needs status'
'Greatest need status'
Social Housing Initiative
The Australian Government is funding the Social Housing Initiative under the Nation Building Economic Stimulus Plan to support employment and the Australian economy.
$5.64 billion of funding is being allocated to state and territory governments to build up to 19,200 additional social housing dwellings, with the assistance of the not-for-profit sector, and to repair over 60,000 existing social housing dwellings. Approximately 10,000 of these dwellings are either unsuitable for occupancy or would become unsuitable over the next year or so.
The Commonwealth is looking at new, innovative provision of social housing and incorporating universal design and energy efficiency measures in all dwellings constructed through the Initiative.
In 2008-09 the Commonwealth paid $260 million to the state and territory governments for the Initiative. As at 30 June 2009, construction had begun on 788 new social housing dwellings, and six homes had been completed.
Funding for the Social Housing Initiative is being committed over the years 2008-09 to 2011-12. It is expected that all dwellings should be completed by June 2012.
National Rental Affordability Scheme (NRAS)
The Australian Government is investing more than $1 billion in NRAS over four years to stimulate the supply of up to 50,000 new affordable rental dwellings by 30 June 2012.
NRAS is a joint Commonwealth/State/Territory initiative that provides a financial incentive of $8,000 (indexed annually) comprising two components:
The incentive is payable for each new affordable dwelling on the condition that it is rented at 20 percent below the market rate to eligible tenants on low to moderate incomes. The incentive is paid annually for a period of 10 years.
In 2008-09, a total of 4,495 incentives were accepted for new affordable rental dwellings.
Home Purchase Assistance (HPA)
First home purchasers have been eligible for financial assistance under the First Home Owner Grant (FHOG) since July 2000. The FHOG is a $7,000 lump-sum payment available to eligible first home buyers.
Since October 2008 additional grants of up to $14,000 have been made available under the First Home Owners Boost (FHOB). The FHOB doubled the grant to $14,000 for existing homes and trebled it to $21,000 for new homes where contracts were signed between 14 October 2008 and 30 September 2009; or $10,500 for established homes and $14,000 for new homes for contracts signed between 1 October and 31 December 2009. Neither the FHOG nor the FHOB are means tested.
Over 153,000 first home buyers took up the FHOB between October 2008 and the end of August 2009.
HPA is provided by some states to assist low-to-moderate income households to purchase a home or to provide help with mortgage repayments. Some of the mechanisms used to assist low-to-moderate income earners include loans, shared equity schemes, deposit assistance and mortgage relief.
The Australian Government committed $512 million over five years from 2008-09 through the Housing Affordability Fund to increase the supply of housing and reduce the purchase price of new homes, particularly entry level or moderately priced homes. The Fund provides developers and local government a financial incentive to reform development and planning systems and reduce the impact of infrastructure charges on new homes.
Helping those most in need
Supported Accommodation Assistance Program (SAAP)
SAAP provides emergency and transitional supported accommodation and related services to people who are homeless or at risk of homelessness. The Australian Government ended SAAP on 31 December 2008 and subsumed funding for homelessness services under the National Affordable Housing Agreement (NAHA) from 1 January 2009.
In 2007-08 SAAP assisted 125,600 homeless persons and 76,900 accompanying children through 1,562 agencies across Australia. The number of clients supported by SAAP agencies on any given day ranged from 30,400 to 35,900.
The primary focus of SAAP agencies was to use a case management approach to support homeless people, including adults and children escaping domestic violence. Through this process, clients were offered a range of services including: supported accommodation; counselling; advocacy; links to housing, health, education and employment services; outreach support; brokerage; and meals.
The Crisis Accommodation Program (CAP) of the CSHA mainly funded the building, maintenance and renovation of crisis accommodation. In 2007-08 the total number of CAP dwellings nationally was 7,567.
Housing assistance for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples
In addition to the payments to individuals and housing assistance available to all Australians, there are a number of programs which are aimed at meeting the needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander (Indigenous) Australians.
The housing standards experienced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples tend to be lower than those experienced by other Australians. Housing standards tend to be lowest in remote communities due to higher building and maintenance costs as a result of access and distance-related issues. Maintenance requirements are usually higher where environmental conditions are harsh, or where accommodation is insufficient, leading to overcrowding.
Overcrowding is of particular concern because it is associated with poor health outcomes. The 2006 Census of Population and Housing found that Indigenous people were 4.8 times as likely as non-Indigenous people to live in overcrowded housing, i.e. dwellings requiring at least one additional bedroom. The proportion of Indigenous people living in overcrowded conditions rose with geographic remoteness, from 15% in major cities to 65% of those in very remote areas.
Between 2001 and 2006 the proportion of Indigenous people living in overcrowded housing decreased form 31% to 27%.
The 2006 Community Housing and Infrastructure Needs Survey, conducted by the ABS, collected information from 496 Indigenous Housing Organisations (IHOs) which managed a total of 21,854 permanent dwellings. The majority of these dwellings (57%) were in very remote areas, with a further 11% in remote areas and 32% in non-remote areas. Of the permanent dwellings managed by IHOs in 2006, 69% required minor or no repairs and 30% required major repairs or replacement, an increase from the 27% reported in 2001. A larger proportion of permanent dwellings in remote areas were in need of major repairs and replacement (36%) than those managed by IHOs in very remote (30%) and non-remote (29%) areas.
Australian Remote Indigenous Accommodation (ARIA) Program
The Australian Government Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs administer a number of programs designed to improve the living environment of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
The ARIA program replaced the Community Housing and Infrastructure Program (CHIP) in July 2008. Indigenous Housing and Infrastructure Agreements were extended through to December 2008 under the ARIA program prior to the commencement of the National Partnership Agreement on Remote Indigenous Housing in January 2009.
The Community Housing and Infrastructure Program (CHIP) provided funds for the construction, purchase, repair and management of community housing as well as for the provision and maintenance of housing-related infrastructure (essential services such as water, sewerage, electricity and community roads) and recurrent funding for the provision of municipal services. Through CHIP, funding was provided to:
National Partnership Agreement on Remote Indigenous Housing (NPARIH)
In November 2008, the Australian Government, through the Council of Australian Governments (COAG), committed $5.5 billion over 10 years (2008-09 to 2017-18) to reform the provision of remote Indigenous housing. The National Partnership on Remote Indigenous Housing outlined responsibility between governments, with the states and Northern Territory being the major provider of housing services.
The Australian Government and state and territory governments agree that housing investment in remote Indigenous communities is a central building block to achieving the targets for ‘Closing the Gap’ on Indigenous disadvantage through the NPARIH. The NPARIH is targeted at:
State Owned and Managed Indigenous Housing (SOMIH)
The primary purpose of SOMIH is to achieve more effective Indigenous housing outcomes. Up to 31 December 2008 SOMIH was funded under the former CSHA Aboriginal Rental Housing Program. Recent priorities for this program have included a focus on providing housing in rural and remote areas, provision for maintenance and upgrades, and training for community housing providers in the Indigenous housing sector.
There were 12,375 households in SOMIH at 30 June 2008. Nationally, 33% of all SOMIH dwellings were located in major cities, 24% were located in inner regional Australia, 25% were located in outer regional Australia, and 18% were located in remote or very remote areas of Australia.
This section was contributed by Indigenous Business Australia (July 2009).
Indigenous Business Australia's Home Ownership Program (IBA Homes) provides affordable home loan finance to eligible Indigenous people to assist in reducing the disparity between the rate of home ownership in Indigenous households and that in other Australian households. According to the 2006 Census, the home ownership rate for usual resident households with Indigenous person(s) was 36%, around half the rate for other usual resident households (71%).
IBA Homes provides home loans on concessional terms to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families. The scheme targets low income Indigenous families with the capacity to repay a long-term loan, but who have difficulty obtaining finance from traditional lending institutions. The loan portfolio currently includes 3,364 loans valued at $552.4m. In 2008-09, there were 348 new loans provided. Since the program's establishment, it has helped in excess of 13,000 Indigenous families buy their own homes.
Home Ownership on Indigenous Land (HOIL)
Historically, Indigenous Australians living on Indigenous community-titled land have not been able to buy their own homes because the land tenure was not secure enough to meet lenders' requirements. This has limited their ability to control living conditions, improve their long-term economic circumstances and transfer wealth to future generations.
On 5 October 2005, the Australian Government announced its intention to amend the Aboriginal Land Rights (Northern Territory) Act 1976 (Cwlth), in part to make long-term leases over community-titled land readily available to prospective Indigenous home owners. To complement these reforms, the HOIL Program was established to provide affordable loans and other assistance to Indigenous families.
The HOIL program is dependent on the legislative framework for land tenure in each state and territory. The Australian Government has been consulting with the states to effect the land tenure reform necessary to enable the program to be fully implemented. In the 2006 Budget, the Australian Government announced a $107.4m expansion of HOIL over four years.
In 2008-09 nine loans were approved to families in Nguiu on Bathurst Island to purchase their own homes, effectively commencing lending under this program.
Residential aged care
This section was contributed by the Australian Government Department of Health and Ageing (September 2009).
The Australian Government, through the Department of Health and Ageing, subsidises and regulates residential care for frail older people. Most residential care is provided by the non-government sector, including not-for-profit and private sector providers. Australian Government payments include subsidies paid to providers for the provision of care. Targeted capital assistance is also available to aged care homes catering largely for residents with special needs or on low incomes, or located in rural and remote areas of Australia. Residents can also be asked to pay fees and charges toward their care costs.
The main types of care are low level (hostel) services and high level (nursing home) services. The rights of care recipients are protected and promoted through the Aged Care Complaints Investigation Scheme, advocacy services and the Community Visitors' Scheme. To receive funding, each aged care home must meet specific care and building standards and be accredited by the Aged Care Standards and Accreditation Agency.
The Australian Government subsidises the costs for each person in residential aged care according to their needs.
Table 10.29 shows the number of aged care residents and table 10.30 shows expenditure on residential aged care.