Notes on the data: Housing, and rent assistance

Housing Suitability - dwellings requiring extra bedrooms, 2021


Policy context:  This variable, which was new in the 2016 Census of Population and Housing, can be used to identify if a dwelling is either under or over utilised. The indicator published is of the number of families requiring extra bedrooms, taking into account a series of household demographics, such as the number of usual residents, their relationship to each other, age and sex [1].

At the 2021 Census of Population and Housing, 8.9% of dwellings with Aboriginal households were assessed as requiring extra bedrooms. The comparable proportion for all dwellings (regardless of Indigenous status of the household) was 3.4% [2].


  1. Australian Bureau of Statistics, Housing suitability (HOSD), Canberra: ABS; 2021, accessed 8 March 2023. Available from:

Notes:  The criteria used to derive the variable are based on the Canadian National Occupancy Standard for housing appropriateness and are sensitive to both household size and composition. The measure assesses the bedroom requirements of a household by specifying that:

  • there should be no more than two persons per bedroom
  • children less than five years of age of different sexes may reasonably share a bedroom
  • children less than 18 years of age and of the same sex may reasonably share a bedroom
  • single household members 18 years and over should have a separate bedroom, as should parents or couples and
  • a lone person household may reasonably occupy a bed-sitter.

Private dwelling: A private dwelling can be a house, flat or even a room. It can also be a caravan, houseboat, tent, or a house attached to an office, or rooms above a shop.

Aboriginal household: An Aboriginal household is any household where at least one usual resident was an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander person.

The numerator excludes the small proportion of dwellings for which the housing suitability indicator could not be calculated: however, these records are included in the denominator.


Geography: Data available by Indigenous Area, Primary Health Network, Quintile of socioeconomic outcomes (based on IRSEO) and Remoteness Area


Numerator:  Private dwellings, with Aboriginal households, requiring extra bedrooms


Denominator:  All private dwellings with Aboriginal households


Detail of analysis:  Per cent


Source:  Compiled by PHIDU based on the ABS Census of Population and Housing, August 2021


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