Housing and living conditions: impact on children

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Health and the environment : a compilation of evidence
SainsburyL and Long R
Canberra : Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, 2011.

"There is increasing awareness that our health and the environment in which we live are closely linked. This report compiles evidence on the relationship between health and a selected list of environmental factors including 'natural' features (such as temperature and ultraviolet radiation) and aspects of our surroundings which have been created by humans (such as housing and transport). The results of this compilation highlight that: our surroundings can influence our physical health and mental wellbeing through a variety of channels; health and wellbeing may be affected in both positive and negative ways; humans, through their intervention in the environment, can play a vital role in exacerbating or reducing health risks. As the pathways involved can be indirect and complex, this report also examines some of the difficulties involved in assessing the broader relationship between health and the environment."

Shelter : development of a Children's Headline Indicator : information paper
Australian Institute of Health and Welfare
Canberra, ACT : Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, 2010.

"Access to stable, adequate shelter plays a major role in the health and wellbeing of families, and in particular children, by providing a safe environment, the security that allows participation in the social, educational, economic, and community aspects of their lives and the privacy to foster autonomy as an individual and a family unit. This report describes the process of developing a Children's Headline Indicator to measure the multidimensional aspects of shelter. It presents research evidence on the associations between shelter and children's wellbeing; assesses potential indicators and data sources; and recommends an indicator based on households experiencing housing disadvantage."

Housing and health (PDF)
Habitat for Humanity Australia
North Sydney, NSW : Habitat for Humanity Australia, 2010

Poverty, inadequate housing and poor health are interlinked. This fact sheet outlines the impact of poor living conditions on the health and well being of adults and children, with reference to international research evidence. Sections include: a right to proper shelter; the effect of substandard housing; types of unhealthy housing; the impact of adequate housing; and what can be done.

Healthy environments for healthy children: key message for action (PDF)
World Health Organization, United Nations Environment Programme
Geneva : World Health Organization, 2010.

"This document results from an ongoing partnership between the WHO, UNEP and UNICEF in the area of children's health and the environment. It summarizes key messages for action on different environmental health issues, including global environmental change; water pollution; sanitation and hygiene; nutrition, growth and development; vectors of disease; air pollution; chemicals; injuries; environmental emergencies, noise and healthy housing. It also includes the 2009 Busan Pledge for Action on Children's Health and the Environment, drafted by participants at the 3rd WHO International Conference on Children's Health and the Environment."

The impact of housing on the lives of women and children post domestic violence crisis accommodation (PDF)
NSW Women's Refuge Movement., University of Western Sydney. Urban Research Centre.
Redfern, N.S.W. : NSW Women's Refuge Movement Resource Centre, 2009

Domestic and family violence is the primary cause for the use of specialist homelessness services by women and children. The aim of this study was to identify the impacts of housing on women and their children who experience domestic and family violence. Using data from interviews with 12 women who had exited a New South Wales women's refuge six months or more prior to the interviews, the study investigated the quality and timeliness of appropriate housing provision and its link to women and children's wellbeing. The results show that housing for the women and children experiencing domestic and family violence deteriorated significantly. The key elements for concern were: affordability, length of stay, the physical condition of the housing, the neighbourhood, safety and the availability of maintenance. Participants who experienced housing difficulties reported that they were scared to complain or felt that they did not have the right to ask for anything better. The report discusses how the service system could be improved to reduce the level of homelessness caused by domestic and family violence.

Chance of a lifetime: the impact of bad housing on children's lives (PDF)
Harker L
London : Shelter UK, 2006.

This report describes the effects of poor housing on children's development and life chances. It explains the impact of poor housing conditions, overcrowding, and homelessness on children's health, safety, and learning, as well as the longer term effects on their economic well-being and behaviour. The report concludes with policy recommendations for the British government.

Skin infection, housing and social circumstances in children living in remote Indigenous communities : testing conceptual and methodological approaches.
Bailie R, Stevens M, McDonald E, Halpin S, Brewster D, Robinson G and Guthridge S
BMC Public Health v. 5 8 Dec 2005: Article 128

A study is planned to examine the impact of housing conditions on child health in remote Indigenous communities in Australia. In particular, it will examine the association between skin infections and the functional status of basic items of household infrastructure, and the impact of the provision of better quality housing. This article presents findings from the pilot study, which tested data collection and analysis approaches, as well as the conceptual framework. The pilot was conducted across three remote Indigenous communities in northern and central Australia. Poor housing conditions are a major factor for poor child health in disadvantaged communities. Bacterial skin infections such as pyoderma are particularly significant due to their role in other diseases, including acute rheumatic fever, rheumatic heart disease, chronic renal failure, and scabies. High rates of pyoderma can be attributed to overcrowding, inadequate water supply, heat and humidity, poor waste removal, poor education and poor hygiene, which are in turn related to socio-economic factors.

The health, employment and education benefits of public housing. (PDF)
Phibbs P and Young P
AHURI Research and Policy Bulletin no. 54 Mar 2005 1-4

Which dimensions of public housing have contributed to changes in health, children's schooling and employment outcomes? This study interviewed public housing tenants just after they moved in and then six months later. This paper reports the findings and considers who should be prioritised for assistance and what other forms of housing assistance should be offered.

The importance of stable housing for families with children: child success, workforce development, strong communities. (PDF)
Greater Minnesota Housing Fund
Saint Paul, MN : Greater Minnesota Housing Fund, 2004.

This community briefing paper highlights the importance of safe, decent, and affordable housing for children. It discusses the impact of poor housing on child health and education performance, the effects on housing instability and housing costs on families, and the benefits of family home ownership on a child's future success. The paper concludes with a description of the Greater Minnesota Housing Fund's Building Better Neighborhoods program, which aims to match affordable housing stock to the needs of low income families.

Non-shelter outcomes of housing: a case study of the relationships between housing and children's schooling
Young P

This thesis examines the non-shelter impacts of housing, in particular the possible processes by which aspects of housing may impact on aspects of schooling. Drawing upon a literature review and original research in Queensland with public housing tenants and teachers, it investigates the relationships between transience and relocation; isolation; health; housing costs; housing tenure; homelessness; child development; housing amenity; neighbourhoods; peers; parent child interactions; and housing and education.

Designed environments for young children : empirical findings and implications for planning and design.
Moore G
Gollop, Megan, ed. McCormack, Jaleh, ed. Children and young people's environments. Dunedin, NZ: Children's Issues Centre, 2002, 0958359598: 53-63

An important element in the provision of high quality preschool programs is developmentally appropriate architecture. This paper highlights principles and patterns in the design of early childhood centres that best cater for the development needs of preschool children. It discusses the developmental outcomes of early childhood education, impacts of the physical planned and designed environment, implications for planning and design, the Neighbourhood Hub model, building organisation, and outdoor activity spaces.

Do housing conditions impact on health inequalities between Australia's rich and poor? : final report
Waters A
Melbourne : Australian Housing and Urban Research Institute, 2001.

Physical housing conditions and the well-being of children
Jackson A and Roberts P
Ottawa, Ontario : Canadian Council on Social Development, 2001.

This background paper looks at the state of housing inhabited by children in Canada. It presents statistics from 1994 and 1996 on overcrowding, disrepair, and multiple physical housing problems, and the effects on the rate of poor health, emotional problems, behaviour problems, and special needs among these children.

Australian living standards: the next decade.
McDonald P and Brownlee H
Unpublished paper, 1993, 19p. Paper presented at the Conference, Social Security Policy: the Future, Department of Social Security, Canberra, November 1993

Many commentators on the future of living standards in Australia refer to the likelihood that middle-Australia is and may continue to be a shrinking group. They suggest that there will be more households with low incomes as well as more with high incomes. This paper examines the circumstances of low-income families in 1991 (the bottom 20 per cent) in comparison with the circumstances of high income families (the top 30 per cent). If the middle is to continue to shrink, some will drop to the standards of the bottom 20 per cent while others will rise to the standards of the top 30 per cent. The analysis indicates the outcomes where low income makes a large difference compared with those where income level is not so relevant. The authors draw on data from the Australian Living Standards Study (ALSS) a study conducted by the Australian Institute of Family Studies. The paper employes outcome measures for families, fathers, mothers and children obtained in ALSS. The paper draws on data for 1,768 households located in four Melbourne municipalities: Berwick, Box Hill, Werribee and Melbourne. The measures used cover the household's economic situation, housing, health, children's wellbeing, and psychological or personal wellbeing.

The price of happiness: economic consequences for separated families.
Chamberlain E, Smiley G and Dalgleish L

Commonsense observations that the emotional state of children reflects the degree of stress in their environment are confirmed by research. Thus the effects on children of deterioration in family income and the standard of housing after separation are likely to be mitigated where there is overall satisfaction on the part of the custodial parent with the resolution of marital difficulties. A recent Brisbane study supports this hypothesis but, at the same time, highlights the cost of happiness. The study compared three groups of families: two groups of separated families and one group of intact families. Information was obtained about the living standards and social circumstances of the families through parent interviews, and about the children during parent and teacher interviews, and through interviews with and testing of children. Data from that study are examined in the context of recent reports on the economic vulnerability of single parent families, particularly those with female heads. Some practice and policy implications are identified. (Authors)

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