Housing plays a major role in the health and wellbeing of Australians, by providing shelter, safety, security and privacy. The availability of affordable, sustainable and appropriate housing enables people to participate in the social, economic and community aspects of their lives.

Australia’s growing and ageing population, government policy and a range of other factors have an impact on supply, demand and cost of housing. The absence of affordable, secure and appropriate housing can have a number of negative consequences, including homelessness, poor health and lower rates of employment and education. Housing, therefore, plays a major role in the living standards of Australians.

The main sources of Australian home ownership data include the Census of population and housing, the Survey of Income and Housing (SIH), and the Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia (HILDA) Survey.

The latest Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) data from the SIH show that in 2015–16, 67.5% of Australian households owned their own home (37.1% with a mortgage, and 30.4% without a mortgage). A further 30.3% were renting, either privately (25.3%) or through social housing programs (3.5%). The proportion of total renters also includes ‘other landlord types’ [1].

Over the last 20 or so years Australia has seen a shift from outright ownership to owning with a mortgage, and a shift from overall home ownership to private rental (SIH data: Figure 1.1). Between 1994–95 and 2015–16, the proportion of outright owner-occupied households fell from 41.8% to 30.4%. Comparatively, the proportion of households owning with a mortgage has increased, from 29.6% to 37.1%, over the same period. Overall, the proportion of households in home ownership fell from 71.4% to 67.5%. There has also been an increase in the proportion of households renting privately (from 18.4% to 25.3%), and a decline in the proportion of households renting through state and territory housing programs (from 5.5% to 3.5%).

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