2050.0.55.002 - Position Paper - ABS Review of Counting the Homeless Methodology, Aug 2011  
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 05/08/2011  First Issue
   Page tools: Print Print Page Print all pages in this productPrint All  
Contents >> Contents >> Key issues: Homelessness and other non-private dwellings



  • The ABS proposed in the Review of CTH to create a new category 'Persons in other temporary lodgings'.
  • Submissions revealed overwhelming support for the new category and the ABS will include this new category in the final methodology.
  • The ABS will continue to analyse people in this group with the view to refine this group, with advice from the Homelessness Statistics Reference Group.
  • The ABS will look at ways to improve the accurate identification of boarding houses in the 2016 Census.


As outlined in Discussion Paper: Methodological Review of Counting the Homeless, 2006 (ABS cat. no. 2050.0.55.001), CTH uses a number of decision rules to determine whether a dwelling was likely to be a boarding house, and if so, that the persons in the boarding house are likely to be homeless. This is the most complex part of the CTH methodology. Different decision rules are applied to dwellings identified by Census collectors as non-private dwellings as compared to dwellings identified as private dwellings by Census collectors. These are discussed in detail in the Discussion paper.

Under the CTH rules, non-private dwellings, not only those coded to 'boarding house, private hotel' are considered in the rules to determine whether the dwelling is likely to be a boarding house. This includes where the non-private dwelling was coded as a 'hotel, motel, bed and breakfast' or whether they were in other stated non-private dwellings, including staff quarters.

The ABS analysed the boarding house population in CTH and identified that those who reported no usual address and were identified in non-private dwellings that were clearly not boarding houses, such as staff quarters, halls of residence, public hospital, private hospital, hostel for the disabled, etc, were better presented in a separate category rather than within the boarding house population.

The ABS produced a separate category for consideration in the Review. Overwhelmingly submissions received have supported the separate category. In addition, some felt that the category should be expanded to include those who were in a caravan park. The homelessness services sector has advised the ABS that they often provide 'vouchers' or similar arrangements to homeless persons to stay in caravan parks or hotels when they are unable to accommodate them within homeless services. They have indicated that the use of caravan parks is particularly prevalent in the rural areas with limited or non-existent crisis accommodation premises. The CTH and Review methodology would include these persons in 'Persons staying with other households' but they would be in visitor-only households.


The new category 'Persons in other temporary lodgings' had 1,970 persons moved into it from the boarding house population in CTH. They have two distinct populations:
  • Persons who are enumerated in a 'hotel, motel' who reported 'no usual address', had low income, and were unemployed or not in the labour force. There were 544 persons identified in the 2006 Census in this group. In the Discussion paper, the ABS committed to undertaking further analysis of their characteristics to understand this population.
  • Persons who report 'no usual address' and were enumerated in staff quarters, halls of residence, public hospital, private hospital, hostel for the disabled, etc (1,426 persons in this group).

The table below shows the type of non-private dwellings that the 1,970 persons in this category were staying on Census night. Overwhelmingly they included hotels, motels and bed and breakfast. However there are a number of people in other non-private dwellings such as hospitals, staff quarters etc. One submission argued that those who were in a psychiatric hospital, other hospital or a correctional institution on Census night should be included as homeless if they reported they did not have a usual address. As the table below shows, this category includes people in these situations.

The ABS will consider further, with advice from the Homelessness Statistics Reference Group, as part of reviewing the cultural definition of homelessness, whether persons in each of these non-private dwellings should be included in the homeless population or whether any are part of the culturally recognised exceptions. The ABS will undertake further analysis of persons in this category to aid this review.

Table 1 - PERSONS STAYING IN OTHER TEMPORARY LODGINGS(a), Type of non-private dwellings on Census night - 2006
Hotel, motel, bed and breakfast
Staff quarters
Residential college, hall of residence
Public hospital (not psychiatric)
Private hospital (not psychiatric)
Psychiatric hospital or institution
Hostel for the disabled
Corrective institution for children
Other welfare institution
Prison, corrective institution for adults
Convent, monastery, etc.
(a) Cells in this table have been randomly adjusted to avoid the release of confidential data.

Future Census identification

To improve the overall boarding house estimation, the ABS will investigate for the 2016 Census compiling more comprehensive lists of the legal boarding house population from states and territories, from local governments, and from homelessness services who refer clients to boarding houses.

Previous PageNext Page