Australian Bureau of Statistics
4159.0 - General Social Survey: Summary Results, Australia, 2010
Previous ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 30/09/2011
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9.1 Selected types of services used, Proportion of homeless seeking assistance from service organsiations (a)
For the most recent period of homelessness in the past 10 years, 13% were homeless for less than a week. A further 6% were homeless for less than 2 weeks, and another 12% were homeless for less than 4 weeks. However, 22% had spent 6 months or more without a permanent place to live.
9.2 Length of time without a permanent place to live, Proportion of people homeless in last 10 years
While the GSS cannot be used to directly derive a prevalence measure of homelessness (i.e., the number of people experiencing homelessness at a point in time), it can inform analysis of homelessness prevalence. In 2010, according to the GSS, 251,000 people aged 18 years or over were estimated to have experienced homelessness in the previous 12 months. This estimate excludes people who were homeless at the time of the survey, which, if they could be included, may increase the total number of people experiencing homelessness in that twelve month period by many tens of thousands. The ABS discussion paper noted above (cat. no. 2050.0.55.001) included an estimate of about 50,000 homeless people aged 18 years or over on a single (Census) night in 2006 (including several thousand homeless people in very remote areas of Australia). If that prevalence estimate were to hold for 2010, then these two sources, taken together, would suggest that there could have been over 300,000 adults experiencing homelessness in the 12 moths prior to the 2010 GSS. This would suggest a ratio of about 6 to one between a prevalence measure of homelessness and the numbers of adults experiencing homelessness in a 12 month period. However, the ABS discussion paper noted that its prevalence measure was an underestimate. If the prevalence estimate should have been much higher, say at 70,000 homeless adults at any one time, the estimated number of people experiencing homelessness over the 12 month period would rise from about 300,000 to 320,000.
Understanding the estimates of the numbers of people experiencing homelessness in a year can be further refined when combined with the length of time for which the most recent period of reported homelessness lasted. The 31% of people experiencing homelessness periods of less than a month (and 13% for less than a week) suggests a relatively high ratio between a point in time prevalence measures and the total number of adults experiencing homelessness.
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