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Key references

This section provides details of key references about housing and community relevant to Indigenous environmental health for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander environmental health practitioners.


Healthabitat (2013)

Housing for health: the guide.

Retrieved 2013 from

Housing for health: the guide is an online resource that assists in improving housing and health in regional and remote Australia.

The guide is supported by data, collected from over 7,500 houses in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities across Australia. It is suited for use by architects, designers, builders, project managers, environmental health officers, health professionals and communities to ensure new or old housing improves health.

The online guide includes information on housing:

  • design and specification
  • quality control
  • maintenance.

It includes a number of tools, printable resources, checklists and databases.

Australian Indigenous HealthInfoNet abstract

Ware V-A (2013)

Housing strategies that improve Indigenous health outcomes.

Canberra: Closing the Gap Clearinghouse

This resource was produced as part of a collection of resource sheets for the Closing the Gap Clearinghouse, a database of evidence on what works to overcome Indigenous disadvantage.

This resource sheet examines the links between housing quality and health outcomes, the mechanisms by which housing influences health outcomes, and a range of practices that can improve the condition of Indigenous housing. It reviews what works, what doesn't, and what further research is needed.

Housing strategies that improve Indigenous health outcomes includes information on:

  • what we know and don't know about housing and health
  • what works and doesn't work
  • current policy context
  • scope of the review and nature of evidence base
  • how housing impacts on health outcomes
    • variations in the impacts of housing on Indigenous health
    • health impacts of poor design, construction and maintenance
    • pyscho-social impacts of housing on health
    • economic mechanisms and health impacts
  • types of housing interventions that impact upon health, and principles for their effective implementation
    • policy environment
    • funding models
    • design and delivery of appropriate housing
    • cultural appropriateness
    • infrastructure improvements
    • housing maintenance
    • housing-related health promotion programs.

The Closing the Gap Clearinghouse has also published a resource sheet on housing construction and maintenance. This resource sheet is intended to complement it by examining how the quality of housing impacts on health outcomes, and by taking a broader view of housing including its location and social environment. It is recommended that the two resource sheets be read alongside one another.

Australian Indigenous HealthInfoNet abstract


Aboriginal Environmental Health Unit (2010)

Closing the Gap: 10 Years of Housing for Health in NSW: an evaluation of a healthy housing intervention.

Sydney: NSW Department of Health

Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (2010)

State owned and managed Indigenous housing 2008-09.

Canberra: Australian Institute of Health and Welfare

Centre for Appropriate Technology (2010)

National Indigenous infrastructure guide.

Alice Springs: Centre for Appropriate Technology

This publication provides a framework to facilitate an understanding of the issues which arise in the provision of infrastructure for remote Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. The main focus of the guide is the installation and maintenance of infrastructure which is appropriate and sustainable for remote Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. The importance of community in this process is highlighted in the guide.

The National Indigenous infrastructure guide complements the existing National Indigenous Housing Guide and the Environmental Health Handbooks. The guide provides information on:

  • existing research
  • codes and standards
  • resources
  • community infrastructure.

The guide was produced by the Centre for Appropriate Technology (CAT) with funding from the former Australian Government Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs (FaHCSIA).

Australian Indigenous HealthInfoNet abstract

Environmental Health Needs Coordinating Committee (2010)

Environmental health needs of Aboriginal communities in Western Australia: the 2008 survey and its findings.

Perth: Western Australian Department of Health, Public Health Division

The Western Australian Environmental health needs survey was conducted over 2007 and 2008 and is the third survey in a series which surveyed housing, services, utilities, community infrastructure and the immediate living environment in discrete Aboriginal communities in WA. Data collected related to over 15,000 residents from 232 communities. This publication reports the outcomes of this survey and provides a comparison with the outcomes of the 1997 and 2004 surveys.

The survey was conducted by environmental health practitioners who work with and in discrete Aboriginal communities. The practitioners visited the communities to survey existing infrastructure. Information was also collected about levels of community satisfaction and any concerns with the provision of essential, municipal and allied services which influenced and affected environmental health in the communities.

The core environmental health and infrastructure issues covered in the report were:

  • water
  • electricity
  • housing
  • solid waste disposal
  • sanitation
  • dust
  • dog health programs
  • emergency management

The report provides an evidence base which highlights the continued environmental health issues faced by many of the communities who participated in the survey. It is the foundation for the future direction of service plans and delivery in discrete communities.

Australian Indigenous HealthInfoNet abstract


Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (2009)

Indigenous housing indicators 2007–08.

Canberra: Australian Institute of Health and Welfare

Indigenous housing indicators 2007-08 provides data on Indigenous community housing, state owned and managed Indigenous housing and on Indigenous access to mainstream housing programs. The information was collected from several sources to report against nationally agreed indicators, including:

  • tenure type
  • affordability of housing
  • rents collected and charged
  • dwelling condition
  • connection to services
  • overcrowding
  • recurrent and capital expenditure on Indigenous housing, and
  • homelessness.

Australian Indigenous HealthInfoNet abstract

Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (2009)

Indigenous housing needs 2009: a multi-measure needs model.

Canberra: Australian Institute of Health and Welfare

Porter R (2009)

Towards a hybrid model of public housing in Northern Territory remote Aboriginal communities?.

Alice Springs: Desert Knowledge Cooperative Research Centre


Australian Bureau of Statistics (2007)

Housing and infrastructure in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, Australia, 2006.

Canberra: Australian Bureau of Statistics

This report presents the results from the third Community Housing and Infrastructure Needs Survey (CHINS), held in 2006. The publication includes information relating to housing, such as current housing stock, dwelling management practices and some information about Indigenous organisations that provide housing to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. The report also provides information about housing related infrastructure such as water, electricity, sewerage, drainage, and rubbish collection and disposal, as well as other facilities such as transport, communication, education, sport and health services, available in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.

Australian Indigenous HealthInfoNet abstract

Black A (2007)

Evidence of effective interventions to improve the social and environmental factors impacting on health: informing the development of Indigenous Community Agreements.

Barton, ACT: Office for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health

This literature review summarises evidence of interventions that have shown to have positive impacts on selected social and environmental factors relevant to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and communities. It details research and evaluations of community programs in nutrition, early childhood, housing, sporting and cultural programs, employment, community services and alcohol use. Information provided will assist staff in Indigenous Coordination Centres in the development of Regional Partnership Agreements and Shared Reasonability Agreements.

Australian Indigenous HealthInfoNet abstract

Department of Families Housing Community Services and Indigenous Affairs (2007)

National Indigenous housing guide: improving the living environment for safety, health and sustainability: third edition.

Canberra: Australian Government Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs

The National Indigenous housing guide is a practical resource to support the planning and development of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander housing in terms of design, construction and maintenance for remote communities.

The resource is divided into four parts including:

  • safety
  • health and housing
  • healthy communities, and
  • managing houses for safety and health.

It is useful for builders, trades people, housing workers, council members, architects, project managers, or government officials working in Indigenous affairs and housing.

The guide was developed by the Australian Government in partnership with communities, housing design consultants, builders, architects and health workers. It is supported by research and meets Australian building standards.

Australian Indigenous HealthInfoNet abstract


Nganampa Health Council Inc, South Australian Health Commission, Aboriginal Health Organisation of SA (1987)

Report of the Uwankara Palyanyku Kanyintjaku: an environmental and public health review within the Anangu Pitjantjatjara lands.

Adelaide: South Australian Health Commission, Aboriginal Health Organisation

In 1987, the Nganampa Health Council published an environmental health report called the 'UPK Report'. The report reached the conclusion that nine healthy living practices are necessary for improved health in the Anangu Pitjantjatjara Lands. Between 1987 and 1990 UPK became regarded nationally as a yardstick for environmental intervention in Indigenous communities.

Australian Indigenous HealthInfoNet abstract

Last updated: 8 June 2017
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