Notes on the data: Housing/ Transport

Aboriginal income units in dwellings receiving rent assistance from the Australian Government, June 2016


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). Recipients of CRA are classified as ‘income units’, rather than households. Generally, there are more income units than households. The number of Indigenous CRA income units has almost doubled in eight years; the number of Indigenous income units receiving CRA increased by 91% between June 2009 (37,200 units) and June 2017 (71,100 units). Further, the proportion of CRA income units identifying as Indigenous increased from 3.6% in 2009 to 5.3% in June 2017 [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 [cited: 2013 Oct 18]. Available from:
  2. Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people: a focus report on housing and homelessness. AIHW: 2019 [cited 9 Aug 2019]. Available from:

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 2016 Census.

Rent assistance at the PHA level has been confidentialised where it could identify data provided at the SA2 level from other sources.


Geography: Data available by Population Health Area, Local Government Area, Primary Health Network, Quintiles and Remoteness Areas


Numerator: Aboriginal income units receiving assistance from the Department of Human Services at June 2016


Denominator: Total private dwellings with Aboriginal households (2016 Census)


Detail of analysis: Per cent


Source: Compiled by PHIDU based on data from the Department of Social Services, June 2016; and ABS Census: Dwellings, 2016.


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