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There are a number of different government programs, both Indigenous-specific and mainstream, that provide housing assistance to Indigenous people. The two main Indigenous-specific forms of social housing are State owned and managed Indigenous housing (SOMIH), and Indigenous community housing (ICH).
SOMIH is the responsibility of the state governments and is funded through the Commonwealth-State Housing Agreement. SOMIH is provided in the six states and the dwellings are owned and managed by the state housing authorities.
Indigenous community housing is managed by Indigenous community housing organisations with funding provided by the states and the Australian Government.
In addition to these Indigenous-specific programs, Indigenous people are also eligible for assistance through mainstream housing programs such as public housing, community housing and Commonwealth Rent Assistance.
For data and information on the housing circumstances of Indigenous people see The Health and Welfare of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples 2008. For data and information on housing infrastructure in Indigenous communities see the ABS publication Community Housing and Infrastructure Needs Survey 2001.
In 2003 the Housing Ministers Advisory Committee (HMAC) agreed to fund the AIHW for a five year period to develop the national Indigenous housing data. The HMAC funding was provided to develop the collection of administrative data on Indigenous community housing for the National Reporting Framework on Indigenous Housing (NRF), to enhance the multi-measure needs model and to implement the National Social Housing Survey for the Indigenous housing programs. These data were required to meet national reporting commitments in relation to Building a Better Future: Indigenous Housing to 2010 (BBF), the Commonwealth State Housing Agreement (CSHA) and the Coalition of Australian Governments (COAG).
The Agreement on National Indigenous Housing Information provides the over arching framework for the development of the national housing data.
In May 2001, housing ministers endorsed a 10-year statement of new directions for Indigenous housing, Building a Better Future: Indigenous housing to 2010 (BBF). BBF recognised that Indigenous housing was a major national issue requiring priority action and sought to improve housing and environmental health outcomes for Indigenous Australians.
The focus of BBF was on identifying and addressing outstanding need; improving the viability of Indigenous community housing organisations; establishing safe, healthy and sustainable housing for Indigenous Australians, especially in rural and remote communities; and establishing a national framework for the development and delivery of improved housing outcomes for Indigenous Australians by state, territory and community housing providers.
The National Reporting Framework (NRF) for Indigenous Housing was developed by all states and territories and the Australian Government to provide a framework for national reporting on Indigenous housing and on the implementation and outcomes of BBF. The NRF comprises a set of 38 performance indicators mapped to the seven BBF outcome areas. It includes indicators on the Indigenous-specific programs ICH and SOMIH, Indigenous access to mainstream housing programs, as well as on broader measures such as tenure type and homelessness. There are indicators relating to connection to services, dwelling condition, overcrowding, affordability of housing, rents collected, and capital and recurrent expenditure on Indigenous housing.
The NRF administrative data collection was developed by the AIHW to collect annual data on Indigenous community housing. This is currently an aggregate data collection but the AIHW is currently working with jurisdictions to develop a national unit record data collection for Indigenous community housing.
In 2005 the AIHW published Indigenous housing indicators 2003-04, the first indicator based report on the NRF. With the cessation of the NRF in January 2009, the final report was published as Indigenous community housing 2008-09. Data for 2009-10 Indigenous community housing will be published in 2011.
The AIHW has also undertaken work to further develop the multi-measure needs model for Indigenous housing. The AIHW reports Indigenous housing needs 2005: a multi-measure needs model and Indigenous housing needs 2009: a multi-measure needs model assess housing needs using the five endorsed dimensions of need-homelessness, overcrowding, affordability, dwelling conditions and connection to essential services. It also assesses the feasibility of including an additional three dimensions in the model-appropriateness of housing, security of tenure and emerging housing needs. The report compares the housing outcomes of Indigenous and non-Indigenous households for all the relevant dimensions and discusses future data development needs and priorities.
National Social Housing Surveys of public and mainstream community housing tenants have been undertaken since the late 1990s. There have been two National Social Housing Surveys of state owned and managed Indigenous housing (SOMIH) tenants, the first in 2005 and the second in 2007. The surveys collected data for two national performance indictors: satisfaction with amenity/location (P1) and customer satisfaction (P7). The survey reports also include information on tenant satisfaction with service delivery and dwelling condition; tenant needs; and tenant characteristics such as household composition and labour force participation.
The Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs (FaHCSIA) funds the Fixing Houses for Better Health program to improve the condition of houses in Indigenous communities in rural and remote areas of Australia.
Healthabitat developed the FHBH program and currently implements it on behalf of FaCSIA. FHBH uses a Housing for Health approach that supports the idea that a householder's ability to practice specific healthy living practices (HLP) is dependent upon the functionality of their house, in particular what is called 'health hardware'. This includes items such as safe electricity and water supply, toilets, showers, washing areas and food preparation areas.
In communities selected to participate in the program, all dwellings are surveyed in order to collect detailed information on the functionality of houses (Survey 1). The non-functioning elements of the house are then fixed, either on the spot or soon afterwards, and houses are surveyed again to assess functionality (Survey 2).
The detailed data collected through implementing the program can then be used to calculate a score for each dwelling between 0% OK and 100% OK for each of the 36 HLPs. Eleven of the 36 HLP have been designated as critical. Dwellings can only be considered safe and functioning if they score 100% OK for all the critical HLPs.
The FHBH program followed the Housing for Health safety and health principles detailed in the National Indigenous Housing Guide 3rd Edition. This guide provides practical advice to assist in the delivery of healthy housing to Indigenous people.
The AIHW was commissioned by FaCSIA to make the FHBH data accessible to a range of users through the development of data cubes. Access to FHBH data.