OPERATIONALISATION OF THE DEFINITION
Based on the concept of homelessness outlined in this Information Paper, the operationalisation of the definition will vary depending on the data source. The scope and field procedures of any collection will have an impact on the operationalisation of the definition. For example, if a survey does not go to people who are not in private dwellings or who are visitors, such as past cycles of the General Social Survey, it can collect information about previous experiences of homelessness but will not collect data from many of the people who are currently homeless.
The components of the definition that are measurable in a data source will also vary between data sources. For example, a survey can collect more information on the three key elements of homelessness than can be collected in a Census of Population and Housing, whereas the Census of Population and Housing is designed to collect data about all persons in Australia on Census night.
The operationalisation of the definition in each data source should clearly articulate which aspects of the definition have been measured, and which aspects could not be fully operationalised within the collection.
In addition to producing homelessness statistics according to the elements that determine it, it is useful to present information on homelessness in a number of different ways, including but not limited to the main characteristics of persons who are homelessness.
To show homelessness according to the living situation of the person at the time of collection (or at most recent homeless experience), the following categories can be used:
1. Persons living in improvised dwellings, tents or sleeping out
2. Persons living in short term supported accommodation for the homeless (where available)
1a. Persons sleeping out (where available)
1b. Persons living in improvised dwellings or tents (where available)
3. Persons staying temporarily with other households
4. Persons living in boarding houses
3a. Persons staying temporarily with friends and relatives (where available)
3b. Persons staying temporarily in visitor only households (where available)
5. Persons living temporarily in other lodgings
6. Persons living in severely crowded dwellings
While these categories will overlap in a small number of circumstances, it is more useful to assign people to only one category to ensure they are not double counted in the homeless estimates. The best way to do this is to include them in the category that is the highest on the hierarchy. For example those persons living in a severely crowded improvised dwelling would be coded to ‘Persons living in improvised dwelling, tents or sleepers out’ rather than 'Persons living in severely crowded dwellings'.
The following hierarchy shows how each of the output categories align with the elements within the definition.
For the operationalisation of the ABS statistical definition of homelessness in the Census of Population and Housing, refer to the ABS publication: Information Paper - Methodology for Estimating Homelessness from the Census of Population and Housing
(cat. no. 2049.0.55.001).