The methodology is designed 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 health hardware needed in a house to allow access to healthy living.


“Health hardware” is a term first used by Dr Fred Hollows 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.


The Housing for Health methodology is based on safety and the nine healthy living practices. These Practices link your health and the place where you live, anywhere in the world.

The Healthy Living Practices are prioritized on the basis of existing public health knowledge and their likely impact on health. Life threatening safety issues have the highest priority and then the Critical Healthy Living Practices of washing people, washing clothes & bedding, removing human waste safely and improving nutrition. Then follow the five remaining Healthy Living Practices.

Click here for more detail on each of the practices.


A carefully prescribed methodology, developed continuously since 1985, ensures that all actions aimed at improving the living environment are directly linked to potential health gains. 

Immediate improvement – Great importance is placed on improving some aspect of the living environment on the first day of every project. This builds trust with the local community and has a major impact on the project design. 

Data collected and used to monitor improvement – Each project needs to demonstrate real improvement, not just the spending of money and the doing of work. A broad range of function data is collected to assess the results of the project. See the detailed data at Housing for Health - The Guide.

Data used to improve design – There would be little point in continually fixing poorly designed and built houses thus the design, construction and maintenance faults, as identified by data, guide all research and development projects. In 2013 Housing for Health -the Guide was launched as a means of recording and making freely available all the knowledge gained from projects and R&D projects.

Applied research and development projects – R&D projects usually occur in real houses and often use the residents as researchers. Community members, trades, professionals and students can all be involved in the process of finding better products and methods to improve housing safety, health and economy. 

Engaging local people in all aspects of the works – Over 75% of all staff in all Australian projects are local Indigenous people. Local staff rates on all international projects are higher. Healthabitat has consistently looked at ways to engage, encourage and make the work environment safe so that local people are actively involved in all aspects of the work. They have the greatest vested interest in improving their living environment and will remain in the community to maintain the environment when the other members of the project team have left. can 

Staged project development –The work has always stressed incremental improvement. In Housing for Health projects stress attention to detail and working carefully with small budgets before larger amounts of money are directed to known faults. The international projects always start small to test the relationship with our local partners and host community and to prove if early design concepts actually work before expanding the works. 

About Housing for Health 

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Paul Pholeros on how Housing for Health focuses on improving the living environments of the poor, understanding that environment plays a key and often overlooked role in health.



Brian Doolan – CEO The Fred Hollows Foundation - speaks about the history and importance of “health hardware”



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