Notes on the data: Housing, and rent assistance

Aboriginal income units in dwellings receiving rent assistance from the Australian Government, June 2022


Policy context: Affordable, secure and safe housing is fundamental to one's health and wellbeing, employment, education and other life opportunities. Rent assistance assists low-income people in housing need. It is a subsidy paid largely to people who get social security or other income-support benefits from the Commonwealth government, and who rent in the private rental market, in community housing, and in other renting situations. Most recipients of rent assistance would be paying more than 30% of their gross income on rent if rent assistance was not available - a situation referred to as ‘housing stress’ [1].

Indigenous-specific financial assistance programs include the Commonwealth Rent Assistance (CRA), private rent assistance (PRA) and home purchase assistance (HPA). As at 26 June 2020, 100,866 income units (see Notes, below) receiving CRA reported having an Indigenous member; this was almost three (2.9) times the figure in June 2009, of 37,200 units [2].


  1. Randolph B, Holloway D. Commonwealth rent assistance and the spatial concentration of low income households in metropolitan Australia. (AHURI Final Report Series, vol. 101). Melbourne: Australian Housing and Urban Research Institute (AHURI) UNSW-UWS Research Centre; 2007. Available from:; last accessed 18 October 2013.
  2. Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. Indigenous Housing. Available from:; last accessed 24 November 2021

Notes: The rent assistance data are based on income units with an Indigenous identifier receiving Commonwealth Rent Assistance. An income unit comprises a single person (with or without dependent children) or a couple (with or without dependent children). Single social security recipients living together in the same household are regarded as separate income units. An income unit is classified as Indigenous if at least one adult partner in the unit has indicated to Centrelink that he/she identifies as an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander. It is optional for individuals to identify as Indigenous. These data may therefore represent an undercount. Dwellings are the most appropriate denominator available for this dataset. However, some recipients live in non-private dwellings, which are not included in the denominator: to the extent that this occurs, the proportion will be overstated. Note: The denominator - private dwellings - is based on the 2021 Census as private dwellings data are not available other than Census years.

Data cells with less than 5 counts were suppressed (confidentialised).


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


Numerator: Aboriginal income units receiving assistance from the Department of Human Services at June 2022


Denominator: Total private dwellings with Aboriginal households (2021 Census: 2021 as dwellings data not available other than for Census years)


Detail of analysis: Per cent


Source: Compiled by PHIDU based on data from the Department of Social Services, June 2022; and ABS Census: Dwellings, 2021.


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