INNOVATION & IMPACT
Over 200 Housing for Health projects have improved over 8,000 houses since 1998. This represents around one third of Australia’s Indigenous controlled housing stock. This has directly improved the lives of over 55,000 people.
R&D projects have had national impact during the same period developing better products, specifications and methods to improve the design, construction and maintenance of houses and the surrounding living environment.
Proof of the health gain from Housing for Health projects over 10 years by a recent NSW Health report showed a 40% reduction in hospital separations for a range of infectious diseases, for an average expenditure of $AUD 11,000 per house.
The data derived from the Housing for Health projects, first used to fix the houses, was reused between 1999 and 2007 to inform 3 editions of the National Indigenous Housing Guide.
As the National Indigenous Housing Guide was not reviewed by the Australian Government since 2007 Healthabitat launched the ‘revised on-line’ edition called Housing for Health: the Guide in October 2013. This is now nationally accepted as the essential design guide document for all new and refurbished Indigenous houses. It enshrines the Housing for Health methodology, safety and health principles and project data representing the function of over 7,500 houses. The portability of the Housing for Health methodology since 2008 shows the principles are transferable internationally.
WHAT OTHERS SAY ABOUT HOUSING FOR HEALTH.
Housing for Health projects, and the program as a whole, have been regularly monitored and evaluated over 25 years both internally and by external, independent review. This constant internal monitoring and evaluation has been the reason for continued program development and improvement.
Two examples of the most comprehensive external evaluations are given below.
ON THE METHODOLOGY
Independent evaluation of Housing for Health projects
Example 1: An independent review of the national program 2002-2005.
by SGS Economics & Planning Pty Ltd (SGS) and Tallegalla Consultants Pty Ltd (Dan Gillespie)
From the report’s recommendations:
That the FHBH [Housing for Health] Project delivery method be acknowledged and endorsed as a successful means of program delivery, particularly with regard to good resource planning and achieving practical outcomes in relation to ‘on-the-spot’ fixing of health hardware deficiencies. It is a conceptually straightforward methodology which accords with best practice asset management principles, and which can be successfully applied by FHBH [Housing for Health] Project managers and participating communities. It has been shown to be appropriate and adaptable to its circumstances and to provide an objective ‘evidence-based’ means of assessing the status of Indigenous housing.
The report also recommended the methodology be endorsed as an effective means for improving Indigenous housing outcomes at Australian Government level. For the full report please visit the Australian Government Department of Social Services website.
From the report
…Public health evidence clearly demonstrates a link between the high burden of infectious diseases, particularly in children, and chronic diseases in later life. This program is not only contributing in the short term to reduced hospital separations for infectious diseases, but also in the long term to addressing in part, the epidemic of chronic disease in the Aboriginal population.
… Those who received the Housing for Health intervention had a significantly reduced rate of hospital separations for infectious diseases – 40 % less than the hospital separation rate for the rest of the Rural NSW Aboriginal population without the Housing for Health interventions.’
For the full report by NSW Ministry of Health please visit their website.
HOW WE MEASURE SUCCESS
On every project, teams collect before and after data to ensure the fix work has made improvement to the house, the living environment and health.
All project data is used to improve new houses and upgrades, design & specification, construction and maintenance works in communities. The data is also used to inform Research and Development projects (R&D) which are also applied to projects during design through to maintenance
Local employment is essential to the success of every project with local people accounting for over 75% of project staff nationally. This also has attributed to long term staff employment and retention as local teams are able to continue maintaining housing and the environment with the training they receive on projects.
To learn more about the success measures click here for data on employment, house improvement and key contributing factors.
The Housing for Health methodology has been adapted and applied to projects internationally including urban housing in Brooklyn New York City USA, poor rural villages in Nepal, poor northern rural communities in northern Bangladesh and urban poor shack dwellers on the edges of Johannesburg in South Africa.
Whilst geography, climate, culture, religion and skin colour vary, the poverty and bugs that harm the health of people living in poor environments are similar.
By adopting the same methodology and applying it locally to each project, important improvements to environment and health have been, and continue to be achieved. By working with local community, local organisations, building capacity slowly and collecting data to ensure real improvements are made, the methodology, focused on the Healthy Living Practices, has a universal application.