2901.0 - Census Dictionary, 2006 (Reissue)  
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 17/11/2006  Reissue
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Contents >> Short Definitions and Classifications - 2006 >> Dwelling Structure (STRD) - Characteristics 2006

Dwelling Structure

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Quality Statement


This variable classifies the structure of private dwellings enumerated in the Census. The information is determined by the Census collector.

Data on dwelling structure are used to monitor changes in housing characteristics, to help formulate housing policies and to review existing housing stock.
More Detailed Description


Applicable to: Private dwellings

Separate house
Semi-detached, row or terrace house, townhouse etc.
Flat, unit or apartment
Other dwelling
&& Not stated
@@ Not applicable

Total number of categories: 12

More Detailed Description
Quality Statement - Dwelling Structure (STRD)

Interpreting Census counts of people in the category 'Improvised home, tent, sleepers-out'

Issue: Many users analyse the Census counts of people categorised as being enumerated in 'Improvised home, tent, sleepers-out'. Much of this analysis further focuses on this count where the people being enumerated also either:

a) Stated they were counted at home at their Usual Residence on Census night
b) Stated they were not counted at home on Census Night but reported having No Usual Address.

The data analysed excludes the Overseas Visitors category.

This update brings together some of the information that has been used in answering user queries regarding interpretation of the results of their analyses of Census information.

Background to field procedures:

A special enumeration strategy is targeted at known locations, identified by a variety of organisations, where people may be sleeping out on Census night, such as under bridges, in parks, in cars, in makeshift camps, etc. Special collectors use a special short form, with just 6 questions (age, sex, marital status, Indigenous status, birth country and income), to interview people found sleeping out. Responses for Census items not included on the short form are 'not stated' in the data, and some of the items asked may also appear as 'not stated' if the person did not respond to that question. About 3,000 such forms were used in the 2006 Census.

Census Collectors may also interview potentially homeless people living in improvised dwellings or sleeping out using the mainstream household form, via personal interview, and instructions note that some questions will not be relevant so can be ignored, such as the dwelling questions.

It is likely that, despite the best efforts of Census collectors, some people who were sleeping in improvised dwellings or sleeping out on Census night will be missed.

Many other people are enumerated in the 'Improvised home, tent, sleepers-out' structure category. ABS Census mainstream field collectors are asked to record a dwelling structure for each dwelling which they approach to enumerate in the Census. One of the dwelling categories is 'Improvised home, tent, sleepers-out', and the collector instructions ask them to include, in addition to campers, sleepers out and makeshift dwellings, any '... garage, shed etc occupied on a permanent or semi-permanent basis.'

For Census output purposes, the dwelling structure category 'Improvised home, tent, sleepers-out' can be cross tabulated by the 'usual residence' stated by any household members enumerated at the dwelling. Some people staying in these dwellings will be visiting away from home and report their usual address as being elsewhere. Others may state that they are being enumerated at their usual address, or state that they have no usual address. There were 16,375* people in the category 'Improvised home, tent, sleepers-out' on Census night 2006 and for whom this was either their usual address or they had no usual address.

Some of the 'Improvised home, tent, sleepers-out' dwellings enumerated on Census night would not be considered 'habitable' in terms of normal community standards. However, some of the 'Improvised home, tent, sleepers-out' dwellings would be considered 'habitable' in terms of normal community standards, such as sheds or garages with internal plumbing and other facilities. For example, some people may be living in a shed or garage erected on their land while their new home is under construction, or in a converted garage. All such housing circumstances fall within this Census dwelling structure classification 'Improvised home, tent, sleepers-out'.

Another example of people staying in improvised dwellings and possibly being enumerated 'at their usual address' on Census night includes building and construction workers. They may be sleeping in transportable sheds that travel with them from job to job. When completing the Census form this shed will be the place that they either have lived in, or intend to live in, for 6 months or more in the Census year, even though they may have a family home elsewhere that they 'visit' in between jobs. Again, such housing circumstances fall within this Census dwelling structure classification 'Improvised home, tent, sleepers-out'.

Looking at the counts:
In understanding the quite varied circumstances of the 16,375 people described above as living in an 'Improvised home, tent, sleepers-out', and either that dwelling was their usual residence or they had no usual residence, a range of Census characteristics are available.

Some summary measures that may be useful in understanding the population of people in 2006 that the Census counted as living in an 'Improvised home, tent, sleepers-out', and either that dwelling was their usual residence or they had no usual residence, include:

. Employment - 37% of those people aged 15 years and over were employed.
. Tenure type - 25% lived on properties which they had mortgaged, and the average reported monthly mortgage repayment they made was about $1,250 per month.
. Size of dwelling - 26% were living in dwellings of 3 or more bedrooms.
. Connection to infrastructure - 18% of those people lived in dwellings with dial-up internet connection, and a further 15% had a broadband service connected.
. Vehicles - 41% were enumerated in households that had two or more vehicles usually garaged there.
. Income - 19% of those people aged 15 years and over reported incomes of $600 or more per week.

These percentages are based on the above 16,375 population including those who did not respond to the question. Lack of response may be due to lack of opportunity to answer the question as it was not asked of the respondent or because the respondent themselves had the opportunity but chose not to respond. Characteristics of people who did not respond to the item are not known, therefore proportions for selected characteristics may be slightly understated.

Understanding the nature of these counts can be further improved by looking simultaneously at several of these characteristics.

It should be noted that the rates reported above are the averages for these selected characteristics across the Australia-wide population of 16,375 people categorised as living in 'Improvised home, tent, sleepers-out' and this was either their usual address or they had no usual address. However, the proportions do vary significantly across geography, and analyses for smaller areas should look specifically at the characteristics for the area under study.

* This figure excludes around 500 persons enumerated in Tweed Heads who were mistakenly coded into the 'Improvised home, tent, sleepers out' dwelling category.

General Data Quality
There are many aspects which can affect the quality of Census data; the following information should be considered when viewing data on Dwelling Structure (STRD).

Data is captured automatically from check box responses so the risk of processing error is minimal. Sample checks are undertaken to ensure an acceptable level of quality.

This data is collected by the Census Collector. In the small proportion of cases where Dwelling Structure (STRD) was not marked, values for STRD were imputed using information collected from surrounding dwellings. However some residual non-response does remain in the data - 0.1% compared with 0.9% for 2001.

Sometimes the Collector may find it difficult to differentiate a separate house from a semi-detached house when dwellings are close together and this may have a small effect on comparisons for these categories between 2001 and 2006.

The ABS aims to produce high quality data from the Census. To achieve this, extensive effort is put into Census form design, collection procedures, and processing procedures.

There are four principal sources of error in Census data: respondent error, processing error, partial response and undercount. Quality management of the Census program aims to reduce error as much as possible, and to provide a measure of the remaining error to data users, to allow them to use the data in an informed way.

When completing their Census form, some people do not answer all the questions which apply to them. In these instances, a 'not stated' code is allocated during processing, with the exception of non-response to age, sex, marital status and place of usual residence. These variables are needed for population estimates, so they are imputed using other information on the Census form, as well as information from the previous Census.

The processing of information from Census forms is now mostly automated, using scanning, Intelligent Character Recognition and other automatic processes. Quality assurance procedures are used during Census processing to ensure processing errors are kept at an acceptable level. Sample checking is undertaken during coding operations, and corrections are made where necessary.

The Census form may be completed by one household member on behalf of others. Incorrect answers can be introduced to the Census form if the respondent does not understand the question or does not know the correct information about other household members. Many of these errors remain in the final data.

More detailed information on data quality is available in the 2006 Census Dictionary (cat. no. 2901.0), in the section titled
Managing Census Quality.

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