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In this report, ‘Occupants’ refers to people living in any housing provided by Australia’s four main social housing programs: public housing, state owned and managed Indigenous housing (SOMIH), community housing and Indigenous community housing, within the reference year as at 30 June (see data quality statements for exceptions).
- In 2021–22, there were around 815,500 occupants living in Australia’s main social housing programs (public housing, state owned and managed Indigenous housing (SOMIH), community housing and Indigenous community housing); the majority (67%) were in public housing.
- 55% of the social housing occupants (where information was provided) were female.
- Around a third of occupants were aged 55 and over in public housing and community housing, but only around 1 in 7 occupants were in this age group in SOMIH.
In 2021–22, about 815,500 people were living in Australia’s four main social housing programs: public housing, state owned and managed Indigenous housing (SOMIH), community housing and Indigenous community housing (note, complete data were not available for all programs, such as in Queensland and the Northern Territory). This is the lowest number of occupants reported in social housing since 2013–14.
Of the 815,500 social housing occupants in 2021–22 (Table OCCUPANTS.1):
- 67% (around 546,200 people) were in public housing
- 23% (around 190,000 people) were in community housing
- 5.9% (around 48,100 people) were in SOMIH
- 3.8% (around 31,200) were in Indigenous community housing.
State and territory
Following the location of social housing dwellings, most of the occupants resided in Australia’s three most populous states: over one-third of social housing occupants lived in New South Wales (34%) and almost one fifth lived in Victoria (18%) and Queensland (18%), respectively.
The number of occupants in each social housing program generally reflected the housing options available within the respective states. In all states but Tasmania and the Northern Territory, most occupants were in public housing, followed by community housing. In Tasmania, most occupants were in community housing, while in the Northern Territory, most were living in SOMIH (Table OCCUPANTS.1). Note that community housing and Indigenous community housing data were unavailable for the Northern Territory.
Age and sex of occupants
Females made up 55-56% of the occupants in social programs including public housing (298,800), SOMIH (26,600) and community housing (105,100). Data were not available for Indigenous community housing.
Occupants in public housing and community housing had a similar age profile. In 2021–22, the key similarities, and differences in the age profile of public and community housing occupants included (Figure OCCUPANTS.1; Table OCCUPANTS.2):
- The public housing program had 37% of occupants aged 55 years and over compared with 33% of occupants in this age group in community housing.
- 1 in 3 occupants in both public housing (33%) and community housing (33%) were under the age of 25.
- Across the other age groups, community housing (34%) and public housing (30%) had a relatively similar proportion of occupants aged 25–54.
The age profile of SOMIH occupants was younger compared to public housing and community housing occupants. Almost half of the occupants (48%) were aged under 25 and about a third (29%) were aged 0–14. In contrast, relatively few were aged 55 or over (15%) (Figure OCCUPANTS.1; Table OCCUPANTS.2).
Figure OCCUPANTS.1: Household members by social housing program, age and sex, 2021–22
Figure OCCUPANTS.1: Household members, by social housing program, age, and sex, 2021–22. The butterfly graph shows the age profile of male and female household members in three social housing programs (public housing, community housing and SOMIH). In 2021–22, the highest number of females household members in public housing were aged 60–64 years (22,900) whereas the highest number of males were aged 10–14 years (23,900). For SOMIH, the highest number of female (3,000) and male (3,200) household members were aged 10–14 years. For community housing, the highest number of females were aged 60–64 (7,300) and the highest number of males were aged 10–14 (7,200).
In 2021–22, around 120,400 Indigenous Australians were living in public housing and SOMIH. Of these occupants (Table OCCUPANTS.3):
- 77,100 occupants lived in public housing
- 43,200 occupants lived in SOMIH.
Changes over time
The total number of Indigenous occupants (across public housing and SOMIH has grown since 2017–18), with increases in each successive year. The overall growth has mainly been driven by increases in public housing, as the number of occupants with an unknown Indigenous status has declined over this time. In contrast, the number of Indigenous occupants in SOMIH has been relatively steady since 2017–18, with only minor fluctuations from year to year.
In the 2021 National Social Housing Survey, almost three-quarters (73%) of occupants reported that they were satisfied with the overall services provided by their social housing organisation (AIHW 2022). Satisfaction was most closely associated with the condition of the home, with satisfaction falling significantly with increasing number of structural problems.
More information about the analyses and occupants’ satisfaction with amenities, locations and services as well as the economic, health and social benefits of social housing, can be found in the National Social Housing Survey 2021.
AIHW (Australian Institute of Health and Welfare) (2022) ‘National Social Housing Survey 2021’, AIHW, accessed 28 February 2023.