Notes on the data: Housing, and rent assistance

Aboriginal households in social housing, 2021


Policy context:  The distribution of public rental housing remains an indicator of socioeconomic disadvantage. Public housing tenants are increasingly welfare-dependent (especially single parents; those who are unemployed, aged or with a disability; and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples) and public housing stocks have declined substantially since 1996.

Social housing is a very significant tenure for Aboriginal people and Torres Strait Islander people in Australia, with three in ten Indigenous households living in social housing. Demand for social housing from Indigenous applicants is also high due to population and household growth, the lower average incomes in this group, the significant numbers of homeless Indigenous people, and barriers faced by many Indigenous people in accessing private rental and home ownership, including affordability and discrimination [1].

On Census night 2021, 18.0% of dwellings rented by Aboriginal households were rented from a government housing authority or a community housing provider. This was over five times the proportion for non-Indigenous families, at 3.2% [2].

See also the indicator Aboriginal persons living in rented social housing dwellings.


  1. Australian Institute of Health & Welfare, Social housing wait lists shorten, Canberra: AIHW; 2016, accessed 15 August 2017. Available from:
  2. Australian Bureau of Statistics, Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander Peoples Profile, ABS 2021, accessed 3 February 2023. Available from:

Notes:  The data include Aboriginal households in private dwellings only.

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: If a household has at least one Indigenous person who is a usual resident and who was present on Census Night it will be classified as a Household with Indigenous persons

The numerator excludes the 3.9% of dwellings for which tenure type was not stated: 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 rented by Aboriginal households from a government housing authority; Private dwellings rented by Aboriginal households from a community housing provider (a housing co-operative, community or church group); and the total of these


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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