Understanding ‘demand sharing’ of Indigenous households

For agencies providing social housing to Indigenous Australians it is important to be sensitive to cultural practices that may be at odds with, or even conflict with, norms of social housing operation and management. In particular this is the case where the cultural practice of ‘demand sharing’ can lead to households being seen as ‘crowded’ and in breach of their tenancy agreement.

The ABS National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Survey 2014–15 revealed that 18 per cent of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people were living in a dwelling that was overcrowded (requiring at least one or more extra bedrooms), a much higher rate than that of 3.2 per cent for all Australian households.

In 2012, AHURI research developed a model of for policy-makers to better understand, measure and manage Aboriginal household overcrowding. For Australian agencies, including state housing authorities, a widely used guideline for determining overcrowding is the Canadian National Occupancy Standard (CNOS), which assesses the bedroom requirements of a household based on the following criteria.

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