Where HfH has been - state image
Healthy Living Projects in Australia South Australia Northern Territory Queensland New South Wales Victoria Tasmania Western Australia

Hover over Map to see where Housing for Health survey/fix work has been completed, community names remain anonomous for privacy.

Housing for Health

Healthabitat Housing For Health Projects projects aim to improve the health of people, particularly children 0-5 years of age, by ensuring they have access to safe and well functioning housing, and an improved living environment. 

The work is based on safety and the nine Healthy Living Practices. These Healthy Living Practices, and their order of priority, were developed in 1985 to describe the functioning hardware needed in a house to allow access to healthy living. “Health hardware” is a term to describe the physical equipment needed to give people access to the health giving services of housing. For example, to wash a young child the “health hardware” needed may include a water supply, pumps, tanks, pipes, valves, taps, hot water system, tub and drainage pipes.

Linking Health to Environment

9 Hl Ps All

For almost a century political and public health commentators, have been linking the poor health of Australian Aboriginal people to their living environment. However, during this time there have been no substantive attempts to detail the elements of the living environment that are likely to contribute to poor health, what health problems they are likely to cause, and how they might be corrected.

In 1985 on the Anangu Pitjantjatjara Lands, in the north-west corner of South Australia, we began a process of addressing these questions. In 1986 we undertook a detailed study of the living environment of Aboriginal people (Anangu) in this region. In this project we assessed the safety of the houses and determined a range of Healthy Living Practices (HLPs) that would be necessary for anyone living in this environment, regardless of background, if they were to keep themselves and their family healthy. In addition to urgent safety issues these were:

  1. Washing people, especially children
  2. Washing clothes and bedding
  3. Removing wastewater safely
  4. Improving nutrition
  5. Reducing the impact of crowding
  6. Reducing the impact of animals, insects and vermin
  7. Reducing the impact of dust
  8. Improved temperature control
  9. Reducing minor trauma

These Healthy Living Practices were prioritised on the basis of existing public health knowledge and their likely impact on health status. We placed life threatening safety issues highest and then washing and waste disposal, then storing, preparing and cooking food to improve nutrition. 

Click here for more on the Health Story

Research and Development

Healthabitat has initiated a broad range of applied, practical research projects to improve housing. Areas of applied research and development over the last 10 years include:

  • tap ware improvement,
  • hot water systems performance improvement,
  • waste water disposal systems,
  • lighting design to reduce energy and improve life,
  • kitchen design to improve function and nutrition,
  • prefabricated transportable shower/laundry/toilet modules for new and existing houses,
  • prefabricated transportable kitchen modules for new and existing houses,
  • local Indigenous staff training aids,
  • customised database and information systems to use the collected Housing for Health data,
  • water use monitoring leading to local community teams fixing leaks and significant water savings (for more details see Section 5D), and
  • improving the internal temperature of existing houses using simple, low energy devices and materials. 

Social Aspects

Number of Staff Employed to date = 1,785 

People will be living in the houses long after the Housing for Health project is finished. Healthabitat sees the necessity of working with the residents and requires that over 70% of all project staff are local Indigenous people. The proportion of local community staff staff is over 75% of all staff for works completed nationally from 1998 to 2011.