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Housing circumstances and health


Overcrowding, according to the Canadian National Occupancy Standard (CNOS), is defined as a situation in which one or more additional bedrooms would be required to adequately house all household members, given their number, age, sex and relationships.

Increasing the percentage of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people living in appropriately sized (not overcrowded) housing to 88% by 2031 is one of the targets in the National Agreement on Closing the Gap.

In 2018–19, among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples:

  • 18% (145,340) were living in overcrowded households.
  • 21% (58,500) who were under 15 years lived in overcrowded households.
  • Indigenous Australians living in Very remote (51% or 48,900) and Remote (25% or 13,500) areas were more likely to live in overcrowded households, than those living in Outer regional areas (22% or 36,600), Major cities (10% or 31,200), and Inner regional areas (8% or 15,600).
  • The Northern Territory had the highest proportion of people living in overcrowded households (50% or 36,700) while the Australian Capital Territory had the lowest (8% or 600) (Figure HH 2).

Within the households that were overcrowded in 2018–19, the majority (56%) of Indigenous Australians lived in households requiring one additional bedroom (81,700 compared with 64,000 requiring 2 or more additional bedrooms).

In remote areas, 9% of Indigenous Australians (or 13,600) lived in ‘severely’ crowded households—those requiring 4 or more additional bedrooms. Of the total 16,200 Indigenous Australians living in severely crowded households, the vast majority (84%) lived in remote areas (Figure HH 3).