Relieving overcrowding and improving quality in housing for people in remote areas can significantly improve health, safety, education and employment outcomes.
The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare reports that 21% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians were assessed as being in overcrowded conditions in 2014–15, of whom 41% were living in remote areas.
While progress has been made in reducing the proportion of overcrowding in remote housing – down from 52.1% in 2008 to a projected 37.4% in 2018 according to a Remote Housing Review by the Australian Government – ongoing investment is necessary to ensure the gap continues to close, thereby reducing the high associated social and economic costs.
Good-quality housing underpins all targets in health, education and employment, as well as community safety, as set out in the Australian Government’s Closing the Gap strategy (2008).
Improving remote housing is likely to require a range of actions, including:
- addressing maintenance and utility deficiencies for existing housing stock
- renewing life-expired housing stock
- developing new housing stock.
These actions will require Australia’s governments to consider which type of housing will best meet the needs and demographics of different communities in remote areas.
Australia’s governments should also consider whether complementary programs to improve access to employment and supporting social services are required to support these actions.
Proponent(s) to be identified.