The Definition subgroup first met in December 2011. To complete its first phase work it met on eight occasions, including three all day face to face meetings and five teleconferences between December 2011 and June 2012.
The subgroup developed its thinking about the key elements of the definition through both a top down and a bottom up approach including:
- consideration of national and international statistical definitions of homelessness; and
- review and analysis of over 300 housing and personal circumstances in Australia to test whether homelessness, as understood by researchers, service practitioners and policy and program officers, could be mapped to a basic set of key elements.
At key points in this process subgroup members were invited to seek broader stakeholder feedback about the various living situations under review and the implications for key elements of a homelessness definition.
Following critical analysis of the definitions and living situations ABS articulated a range of possible elements to support a definition of homelessness. Members discussed the pros and cons of these elements, and refining the elements over time. While consensus was not reached in the subgroup, the ABS definition largely reflects a majority view of members of the subgroup.