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The purpose of this glossary is to define terms commonly used in our research as well as in housing, homelessness, urban and cities policy. It is a useful reference to help you familiarise you with housing-specific terms used across our publications and on our website.

This glossary is limited to terms and acronyms most used by Australian academics and governments.

If there is a term you would like to see included in the AHURI Glossary, please contact us at



Capital gains tax (CGT)

The tax paid to government on the profit received when a property is sold for more than it cost to buy. In Australia, CGT is paid on investment properties and not on a taxpayer’s primary residence property. In addition, if the property had been owned by an investor for more than 12 months, only 50 per cent of the nominal capital gain (i.e. after allowing for associated costs that weren’t otherwise claimable) is included as assessable income to be taxed at the individual’s rate of taxation. This tax discount encourages investors to buy houses to get capital gains benefits rather than rental yield that, like money earned from a bank deposit or as dividends from shares, is taxed at 100 per cent of the investor's rate of income tax.

Case management

A service delivery approach now widely adopted in diverse settings in the human services and health sectors. The Case Management Society of Australia uses the following definition of case management: ‘Case management is a collaborative process of assessment, planning, facilitation and advocacy for options and services to meet an individual’s holistic needs through communication and available resources to promote quality cost-effective outcomes.’

Circular economy

An economic system that calls for production and consumption processes to function within a closed environmentally sustainable loop whereby the lifecycle of the product is extended. The concept of a circular economy typically draws on the following principles: reduction, reuse, recycling, and recovery of materials. The objective is to achieve sustainable development based on environmental quality, economic prosperity and social and intergenerational equity.

City Deal

A strategic place-based intervention facilitated by formal partnership agreements between the different levels of government (Commonwealth, state and local), the private sector and local communities. In Australia, City Deals are initiated by the Commonwealth government and typically involve a 10- to 15-year commitment. Their main function is to facilitate urban transformation and stimulate economic investment in infrastructure and other urban facilities.


A community of homes with shared common facilities that are managed and maintained by community members.

Common Ground

A supportive housing model that integrates housing with on-site support services in a congregate setting. The target cohort of Common Ground projects are people with experience of chronic homelessness that have high and complex needs and low-income households. Housing and support provision are informed by Housing First principles, including access to permanent housing for tenants, supporting them to maintain their tenancy and address their support needs. Engagement with services is voluntary and not a condition of tenancy.

Commonwealth Rent Assistance (CRA)

A non-taxable income supplement paid by the Commonwealth Government to eligible people who rent in the private rental market or community housing. It is available to renters who receive a social security payment (more than the base rate of Family Tax Benefit Part A), a service pension or income support supplement. CRA is calculated at the rate of 75 cents for every dollar of rent payable above the rent threshold until the maximum threshold rate of payment is reached. Rent thresholds and maximum rates vary according to family situation and the number of children.

Commonwealth State Housing Agreement (CSHA)

The CSHA was a joint Commonwealth-State arrangement which assisted both renters and purchasers obtain appropriate accommodation. It was mainly concerned with the provision of public housing but did provide funding for other types of tenure as well, including community housing, crisis accommodation, Aboriginal rental housing, private rental support and home ownership support.

Community housing

A form of social housing assistance that is managed, or owned and managed, by not-for-profit community housing providers where access and rent is determined on tenant income and sometimes other eligibility criteria.

Also see social housing

Community housing organisation (CHO) or Community housing provider (CHP)

A not-for-profit organisation that provides safe, secure, affordable and appropriate rental housing, including social housing for or low income housing that is rented at a discount to market rents. Community housing can cover short, medium and long term tenancies. Community housing providers may include housing cooperatives, housing associations and other community service organisations

Community land trust

A form of shared ownership of a property, where the land component of a residential property is owned by a community based, not-for-profit legal entity and the actual building is owned (or leased long-term) by an individual household.

Complex need

Sometimes also referred to as multiple needs, complex needs is a term used to refer to people who experience various combinations of mental illness, intellectual disability, acquired brain injury, physical disability, behavioural difficulties, homelessness, social isolation, family dysfunction, and drug and/or alcohol misuse. They have often been involved with many services since childhood, including child protection and juvenile justice. People who have complex needs require high levels of health, welfare and other community based services.

Congregate supportive housing

Multi-unit housing designed to cater for the support needs of residents. Congregate supportive housing models, like Common Ground, provide support services on-site and have shared communal facilities.

Couch surfing

Council of Australian Governments (COAG)

The peak intergovernmental forum in Australia, comprising the Prime Minister, State Premiers, Territory Chief Ministers and the President of the Australian Local Government Association. It started on 1 April 1992 and ceased on 29 May 2020, being replaced by the National Federation Reform Council (NFRC) with National Cabinet to remain at the centre of the NFRC.

Crisis accommodation

Emergency and temporary accommodation provided as part of the specialist homelessness services accommodation in Australia.


A measure used to decide if a dwelling is of an adequate size and configuration to meet the needs of the occupant household. Overcrowding is a situation where a household does not have enough space to accommodate all its members adequately or where this results in occupants experiencing stress of various kinds. In Australia, overcrowding is usually defined to occur where a household needs any number of additional bedrooms to meet the Canadian National Occupancy standard. Households requiring three extra bedrooms to meet the CNOS are classified as overcrowded. Using the CNOS measure, the ABS identifies households needing four or more additional bedrooms as severely overcrowded and counts these as being homeless.