States and territories may publish their own analysis of private rent assistance data which may vary in scope from this collection.
Differences in the data collected and which records are included or excluded from a calculation in different states and territories affect the coherence of the output comparisons across states and territories.
Coherence over time has been affected by changes in the methodology. For example, numbers of households assisted by rental grants, subsidies and relief cannot be directly compared with figures produced prior to 2011–12 due to a change in methodology.
Income details (gross weekly household income and principal source of income) are at the time of application with the following exceptions:
- New South Wales—income details are recorded at the time of PRA application and updated in March and September of each year. The most recent record is used for reporting
- Victoria and Queensland—at 30 June. Therefore, reported income may be different to the income received at the time of assistance.
Care should be taken when comparing gross weekly household income across states and territories. New South Wales, Victoria, Queensland, South Australia and the Australian Capital Territory include CRA in gross weekly income, while Western Australia, Tasmania and the Northern Territory do not. Therefore, gross weekly household income in some states and territories may be artificially lower than others because of the non-reporting of CRA.
Weekly rent is at time of application with the following exceptions:
- New South Wales—weekly rent is recorded at the time of PRA application and updated as and when the rent increases. The most recent record is used for reporting
- Queensland—at 30 June.
- Western Australia and the Northern Territory do not provide weekly rent.
State- and territory-specific issues:
New South Wales
- For the years up to and including 2010–11, temporary accommodation was included under ‘rental grants, subsidies and relief’. Temporary accommodation was no longer included from 2011–12. Thus, data on the number of households assisted by rental grants, subsidies and relief are not comparable with the data from 2010–11 and earlier reference periods.
- From 2011–12, hotel/motel assistance is not included in the collection. Prior to 2011–12, hotel/motel assistance was included under rental grants, subsidies and relief. Thus, the number of households assisted through rental grants, subsidies and relief from 2011–12 are not comparable with earlier collections.
- From 2015–16, Indigenous status of the household is required to be collected from all PRA recipients. This has led to better identification of Indigenous clients.
- For the years up to and including 2012–13, unit record data could not be provided for households assisted under the housing establishment fund. As such, estimates were provided for these households, which were based on funding levels and historical data. From 2013–14, estimates were no longer provided. Thus, care is advised when reviewing data from 2013–14 onwards with that of previous years.
- As a result of a system change in 2012–13, caution is advised when comparing gross weekly household income. Although a household may appear to have little or no income, they are most likely receiving appropriate levels of income and these changes may not be reflected accurately in the system.
- During the 2014–15 reporting period, systems were changed to allow better data validation to improve data quality of Indigenous status. Prior to 2014–15, there was greater variation in missing data for Indigenous status.
- The change to the reporting system in 2014–15 also resulted in the discontinuation of data relating to weekly rent charged from 2015–16 onwards.
- In 2014–15, Western Australia made improvements to the process through which income-related data was entered and validated. The new process provided an increased selection of income types. This enhanced the accuracy of mapping to national codes.
- From 2011–12, hotel/motel assistance is reported under ‘other’ assistance. Prior to 2011–12, hotel/motel assistance was included in rental grants, subsidies and relief. Thus, the number of households assisted through ‘other’ assistance from 2011–12 are not comparable with earlier collections.
- Prior to 2015–16, Indigenous status of the main applicant was reported rather than the Indigenous status of the household. Therefore, any comparisons with previous years for South Australia and other states and territories should be undertaken with caution.
- South Australia introduced an online system in 2017–18, where a small number of bond loan and rental grant applications were able to be approved without income details.
Australian Capital Territory
- Until the commencement of the new Rental Bond Help program in November 2018, income information was generally collected for assessable income items only (assessable income as defined in the Public Rental Housing Assistance Program legislative instrument). Consequently, accurate gross income is not available for all program recipients and caution should be exercised when interpreting data for households experiencing housing stress.
- In 2016–17, there was improved data quality in the identification of Indigenous data.
- From 2018–19, income source by specific Centrelink payment type is not reported due to the introduction of a digital application method that has not been enabled to record specific Centrelink payment types. All Centrelink payments are now coded to 3.3 (Other government cash/pension allowances).
- Prior to 2018–19, Indigenous households were under-reported because details of non-income earning household members were not captured in the collection.