2049.0 - Census of Population and Housing: Estimating homelessness, 2016 Quality Declaration 
Latest ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 15/03/2018   
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This quality declaration shows how the official estimates of the prevalence of homelessness from the ABS' Census of Population and Housing addresses each of the elements of the ABS’ quality framework, covering relevance, timeliness, accuracy, coherence, interpretability and accessibility.


For information on the institutional environment of the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), including the legislative obligations of the ABS, financing and governance arrangements, and mechanisms for scrutiny of ABS operations, please see the ABS Institutional Environment.


This publication presents estimates of the prevalence of homelessness and the characteristics and living arrangements of those likely to be homeless on Census night 2016. Estimates are also provided for people whose living arrangements are close to the statistical boundary of homelessness, but who are not classified as homeless. As homelessness itself is not a characteristic that is directly collected in the Census, estimates are derived from Census data using analytical techniques. Prevalence estimates (of how many people experienced homelessness at a particular point-in-time) enable analysis of the scale of homelessness, and can be used to report trends and to target services to prevent or ameliorate the circumstances of homelessness through knowing both the locations of the homeless and their characteristics. The ABS definition of homelessness underpins the methodology used to compile the ABS estimates of homelessness. An overview of the definition is provided in 'Appendix 1: Definition of Homelessness', available from the 'Explanatory Notes' tab of this publication.


The Census and Statistics Act 1905 requires the Australian Statistician to conduct a Census on a regular basis. Since 1961, a Census has been held every 5 years. The 2016 Census was the 17th national Census, and was held on the 9th August 2016. Data on homelessness have been collected in varying forms in the Census since 1933.

Results for the Census of Population and Housing: Estimating Homelessness were released March 2018 with similar timing to other analytical products from the Census, including the Australian Census Longitudinal Dataset.


To understand the accuracy of homelessness estimates, it is important to understand the quality of Census data. While homelessness itself is not a characteristic that is directly collected in the Census of Population and Housing, estimates of the homeless population are derived from the Census using analytical techniques based on both the characteristics observed in the Census and assumptions about the way people may respond to Census questions.

The ABS implemented a targeted strategy to assist in enumerating people experiencing homelessness during the 2016 Census and to improve the accuracy of data collected from this group. The accuracy of Census data is detailed in Census of Population and Housing: Understanding the Census and Census Data, Australia, 2016 (cat. no. 2900.0) including specific statements for each data item that include the non-response rate and other important contextual information.


The first official ABS estimates of the prevalence of homelessness were published in 2012. Census of Population and Housing: Estimating homelessness, 2006 (cat. no. 2049.0) (published in 2012) presents estimates using data from the 2001 and 2006 censuses. Census of Population and Housing: Estimating homelessness, 2011 (cat. no. 2049.0) presents data using data from the 2011 Census.

The estimates use the ABS methodology for estimating homelessness from the Census. For more information, see the Information Paper - Methodology for Estimating Homelessness from the Census of Population and Housing, 2012(cat. no. 2049.0.55.001).

There are small changes and improvements in the methodology over time which may affect the ability to compare intercensal estimates. These are detailed in 'Appendix 2: Estimation Methodology' available from the 'Explanatory Notes' tab of this publication. A change in the treatment of boarding houses for the 2016 release has been applied to the 2011 data, and revised figures are available in this publication.


The' Explanatory Notes' section of this publication (cat. no. 2049.0) should also be referred to as it includes further information on survey methods and design, comparability with previous surveys and summary results.


Tabulated data are freely available in Excel spreadsheets which can be accessed from the 'Downloads' tab of this publication.

Customised data are also available on request. Note that detailed data will be assessed for disclosure risk which in some cases may result in data being regarded as unfit for release.

A Survey TableBuilder product: Microdata: Census of Population and Housing: Estimating homelessness (cat. no. 2049.0.55.002) will be produced, subject to the approval of the Australian Statistician. For further details, refer to the Microdata Entry Page on the ABS website. It is expected that this will be released in mid-2018.

For further information about these or related statistics, contact the National Information and Referral Service on 1300 135 070, or email client.services@abs.gov.au. The ABS Privacy Policy outlines how the ABS will handle any personal information that you provide to needs, discuss options, and provide you with an obligation free quote.