BY Chris Chamberlain, Head of Sociology, Monash University
There can be no meaningful public debate about the best policy responses to assist homeless people, unless there is reliable information on the number of homeless people in the community. To satisfy the need for information, the 1996 Census of Population and Housing targeted Australia's homeless population with a special enumeration strategy. Data from the Census, along with data from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, have contributed to the findings contained in this Paper. The Paper includes: discussion on what is meant by 'homelessness'; methodological issues; counts of both homeless people and homeless households; temporal characteristics of the homeless population; distribution of government funding for the homeless; and the geographical spread of the homeless population.