Community Housing and Infrastructure Needs Survey (CHINS)

What is CHINS?

The Community Housing and Infrastructure Needs Survey (CHINS) is a national survey conducted by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) on behalf of FaHCSIA. The survey targets discrete Indigenous communities and Indigenous housing organisations.

Why is CHINS conducted?

National statistics on Indigenous housing and infrastructure produced from CHINS assist government agencies to better meet the housing and infrastructure needs of Indigenous Australians.

What data does CHINS collect?

CHINS collects information from discrete Indigenous communities, including:

  • details of the housing stock, dwelling management and selected income and expenditure arrangements; and
  • community infrastructure information such as, water, sewerage, power supply, education, health, and other services.

In the 2006 CHINS collections, additional questions included:

  • Housing - dwelling management, selected income and expenditure arrangements, and acquisitions and disposals.
  • Community - community needs public facilities and utility facilities.

The Office of Aboriginal and Torres Straight Islander Health (OATSIH) contributed to items for the collection of health information.

Who responded to the survey?

ABS officers collect the information from Indigenous Housing Organisations (IHOs) and community representatives. Community representatives include:

  • Council clerks
  • Community council chair person
  • Housing officers
  • Water and essential services officers; and
  • Heath clinic administrators.

Have there been previous CHINS?

The ABS conducted two previous CHINS for the former Aboriginal and Torres Straight Islander Commission in 1999 and 2006.

Is the data from each CHINS comparable?

CHINS collections are comparable across all three surveys. The 2006 data CHINS included some additional question to previous surveys.

What are the limitations of the CHINS data?

CHINS data is subject to non-sampling sources of error. The three sources of non-sampling error applicable to CHINS data are:

  • The inability to include all in scope units in the data set
  • Errors in reporting accuracy, and
  • Errors that may arise during data processing.

For more information, refer to the CHINS 2006 Data Dictionary.

How and when can I access CHINS data?

CHINS data is summarised in the publication Housing and Infrastructure in Aboriginal and Torres Straight Islander Communities, Australia (ABS). All three surveys are available on the ABS website. Selected tables are available in Excel format.

Do I have to pay to access CHINS data?

CHINS publications downloads are free and available from the ABS website. Hard copy publications incur a cost (see links below).

Is the Unit Record Profile (URF) available for public access?

CHINS URF will not be available publicly. FaHCSIA is the custodian of the CHINS data, and is responsible for maintaining respondent confidentiality. Relevant agencies may be eligible to receive data items appropriate to their needs.

Can I obtain more detailed CHINS data?

Special data services are currently available for CHINS 1999, 2001 and 2006 from FaHCSIA by contacting IHIB (

When applying for special data services, your agency may be required to sign a Deed of License or a Memorandum of Understanding.

All requests will be considered on a case by case basis

When will CHINS next be collected?

The next CHINS collection is currently under consideration

Key Contacts

For further information, email IHIB (


Content Updated: 27 September 2013