Australian Bureau of Statistics
4922.0 - Information Paper - A Statistical Definition of Homelessness, 2012
Latest ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 04/09/2012 First Issue
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OTHER HOMELESS DEFINITIONS USED TO INFORM THE ABS DEFINITION OF HOMELESSNESS
These four conceptual categories are divided into 13 operational categories to which are mapped 24 living situations as shown below.
In December 2010 the Jury of the European Consensus Conference on Homelessness concluded that homelessness is a complex, dynamic and differentiated process with different routes and exits, or “pathways”, for different individuals and groups. The jury recommends the adoption of the European Typology of Homelessness and Housing Exclusion according to four main living situations of rooflessness; houselessness; living in insecure housing; and living in inadequate housing.
The ETHOS conceptual definition appears to align in most respects with the ABS definition. Its use of the term extreme over-crowding in operational group 13 corresponds to the ABS concept of severe overcrowding.
The ETHOS definition differs in its inclusion of people in immigration detention centres (operational group 5) and in institutions (such as prisons) who are due for release but for whom there is no housing available (operational group 6). These are explicit exclusions from the ABS definition.
In ETHOS operational group 9 (people living under threat of eviction) the 'threat' includes either a repossession order (e.g. mortgage default) or eviction order for renters. In the ABS definition, these people have no tenure and will be homeless if they have no accommodation alternatives. Remaining physically within a dwelling to which you have no legal right and for which a legal process has commenced to remove you is akin to 'squatting' in the dwelling.
ETHOS operational group 7 (people receiving longer term support due to homelessness) could be construed to include people entering residential aged care in Australia on a priority basis due to homelessness. The ABS definition would regard these people as having tenure and they would not be homeless. For those in longer term supported accommodation, characterised by some security of tenure, the ABS definition would exclude them from being homeless (e.g., transitional housing in Victoria).
Statistics New Zealand Definition
Statistics NZ used the ETHOS as the basis for their definition of homelessness, with changes to accommodate the NZ environment and conceptual requirements. The definition is based on three domains as follows:
The intersection of those three domains with housing led Statistics NZ to define homelessness as living situations where people with no other options to acquire safe and secure housing: are without shelter, in temporary accommodation, sharing accommodation with a household or living in uninhabitable housing.
Under the NZ definition people who have 'options to acquire safe and secure private accommodation' are not defined as homeless. This overarching consideration is a corollary for the ABS definition incorporation of accommodation alternatives.
Some of the 'inadequate' and 'insecure' sections of ETHOS are not included because individuals in them are not currently homeless but rather at risk of becoming homeless. These cover the same exclusions for the ABS definition (i.e. ETHOS operational categories 5, 6, and 7). In addition the NZ definition also excludes ETHOS operational categories 9 (threat of eviction) and 10 (living under threat of violence).
Chamberlain and MacKenzie Cultural Definition
In terms of the ABS definition of homelessness compared to the Chamberlain and MacKenzie Cultural definition:
The ABS definition is a broader definition than the Chamberlain and MacKenzie definition because it is centred around the concept of 'home' and includes the critical elements of home. The C&M definition is essentially framed around an accommodation standard.
Like the C&M definition, the ABS definition includes security of tenure and the adequacy of the dwelling, however in the ABS definition both of these elements are more specific in describing what security of tenure is and what the adequacy of the dwelling is.
The C&M definition describes security of tenure as 'an element of security of tenure' and the adequacy of the dwelling is that it has a bedroom, living room, kitchen and bathroom but not whether the dwelling should be fit for human habitation. Using the C&M definition a studio apartment could be considered below the minimum standard.
The ABS definition includes other elements in which C&M do not include:
ABS Definition compared to Other Definitions
The following table compares the ABS elements to other definition of homelessness to identify the similarities and differences between each of the definitions of homelessness that were used to inform the ABS definition.
This page last updated 3 September 2012
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