PROCESS FOR DEVELOPING A METHODOLOGY FOR ESTIMATING HOMELESSNESS FROM THE CENSUS OF POPULATION AND HOUSING
In 2008, following wide-spread discussion in Australia about the meaning and measurement of social inclusion and exclusion, the ABS recognised the need to develop robust and transparent homelessness statistics across a range of ABS datasets. This decision coincided with the release of the Federal Government White Paper on Homelessness (The Road Home), which highlighted homelessness as an important social issue in Australia and identified the need to "turn off the tap", "break the cycle" and arrest chronic homelessness (FaHCSIA, 2008a).
To this point the ABS did not provide official estimates of homelessness through the Census. Estimates were produced by academics, Professors Chamberlain and Mackenzie, who estimated the numbers of homeless people in Australia using the 1996, 2001 and 2006 Censuses of Population and Housing (Chamberlain, 1999; Chamberlain & MacKenzie, 2003; Chamberlain & MacKenzie, 2008). This estimation work was underpinned by the cultural definition of homelessness developed by Chamberlain and Mackenzie (Chamberlain & MacKenzie, 2008).
Following the decision to develop official ABS homelessness statistics, the ABS began developmental work in this area by first reviewing the methodology employed by Chamberlain and MacKenzie to estimate homelessness through the Census of Population and Housing. During this review the ABS identified the need to develop a robust, defensible and evidence informed definition of homelessness for statistical purposes and to produce consistent and repeatable estimates of homelessness.