4922.0 - Information Paper - A Statistical Definition of Homelessness, 2012  
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 04/09/2012  First Issue
   Page tools: Print Print Page Print all pages in this productPrint All



Refers to a person's age at last birthday. These data are collected for each person. Age is calculated from date of birth, however if this is not provided, stated age is used. If neither is provided age is imputed.


Australia is defined in the Standard Australian Classification of Countries (SACC). It includes the states and territories and the other territories of Christmas Island, Cocos (Keeling) Islands and Jervis Bay Territory, but excludes Norfolk Island and the other Australian external territories of Australian Antarctic Territory, Heard and McDonald Islands, Ashmore and Cartier Islands and Coral Sea Territory. Prior to 1996, Census tabulations excluded Christmas Island and Cocos (Keeling) Islands from the Australian total but the counts were available separately.

Australian born

Australian born includes all people born in Australia and excludes people

  • born at sea
  • whose response was classified 'Inadequately described, or
  • whose response was classified 'Not elsewhere classified'.

Australian Citizenship

Refers to people who state they have Australian Citizenship.

Australian Census Analytic Program (ACAP)

This program provides researchers with access to unpublished Census data. The objectives of this program were to publish important, and previously unrevealed information incorporating 2006 Census and other data by:
  • assisting and encouraging issue-driven research; and
  • increasing the use of Census data.

ACAP provides Australian researchers with an opportunity to contribute to the growth and development of Australia by advancing contemporary understanding of Australia's social, cultural and economic environment.

Australian Standard Geographical Classification

The Australian Standard Geographical Classification (ASGC) was developed by the ABS for the collection and dissemination of geographic statistics. It is a hierarchically structured classification with a number of spatial units to satisfy different statistical purposes.

The ASGC areas used for the Census are
  • Mesh Block (MB)
  • Collection District (CD)
  • Statistical Local Area (SLA)
  • Local Government Area (LGA)
  • Remoteness Area (RA)
  • Statistical Subdivision (SSD)
  • Statistical Division (SD)
  • Statistical District (S Dist)
  • Statistical Region (SR)
  • Major Statistical Region (MSR)
  • Urban Centre/Locality (UC/L)
  • Section of State (SOS)
  • State/Territory.

See also:
      Statistical Geography Volume 1: Australian Standard Geographical Classification (ASGC) 2006 (cat. no. 1216.0)
      Statistical Geography Volume 2: Census Geographic Areas, Australia (cat. no. 2905.0)
      Statistical Geography Volume 3: Australian Standard Geographical Classification (ASGC) Urban Centres/Localities (cat. no. 2909.0)


See Mean.


See Country of birth.

Canadian National Occupancy Standard (CNOS)

The Canadian National Occupancy Standard for housing appropriateness is sensitive to both household size and composition. The measure assesses the bedroom requirements of a household by specifying that
  • there should be no more than two persons per bedroom
  • children less than 5 years of age of different sexes may reasonably share a bedroom
  • children 5 years of age or older of opposite sex should have separate bedrooms
  • children less than 18 years of age and of the same sex may reasonably share a bedroom, and
  • single household members 18 years or over should have a separate bedroom, as should parents or couples.

Households living in dwellings where this standard cannot be met are considered to be overcrowded.

Caravans, houseboats, cabins etc.

Enumeration of people in caravans, houseboats, cabins etc. varies depending on their situation. Occupied caravans are usually treated as private dwellings with the exception of some caravans on residential allotments (see below).

Caravans on Residential Allotments: An occupied caravan on a residential allotment is usually treated as an occupied private dwelling. The exception to this is where there are one or more other structures on the allotment and the occupants of the caravan live and eat with the occupants of the main dwelling. In this case the occupants are all classed as one household and the caravan is counted as an additional room of the main dwelling.

Caravans on Roadsides/Open Land: Prior to the 2006 Census, occupied caravans at roadside parking areas or on open land were classified as sleepers-out. The occupants of the caravans complete Household forms.

For the 2006 Census, caravans on roadsides/open land are treated the same as caravans in caravan parks. That is, they are treated as occupied private dwellings and families are identified and coded.

Caravans or Cabins in Caravan Parks: Since the 1986 Census, occupied caravans or cabins in caravan parks have been treated as occupied private dwellings, i.e. families are identified and coded. Prior to this, they were treated as non-private dwellings.

Houseboats: Occupied houseboats are treated as occupied private dwellings regardless of location. Prior to the 1986 Census, occupied craft in marinas were treated as non-private dwellings.

Managers' residences in caravan parks or marinas are enumerated and classified as separate private dwellings. Unoccupied caravans and boats/craft, regardless of location, are not counted in the Census.


The Australian Census of Population and Housing is an official count of population and dwellings, and collects details of age, sex, and other characteristics of that population. For more information see How Australia Takes a Census (cat. no. 2903.0) and the information paper 2006 Census of Population and Housing, Nature and Content (cat. no. 2008.0). These papers are also available on the ABS web site <https://www.abs.gov.au>.

Census counts

The Census counts people where they were located on Census Night and this count of the population is referred to as the place of enumeration count. A count of the population based on their place of usual residence is also available. While every effort is made to achieve a complete Census count, some under enumeration inevitably occurs for various reasons, for example, the inadvertent omission of very young children, treatment of some dwellings as unoccupied when in fact they are occupied, and failure to find all dwellings. Refusal by householders to complete the Census form is not a significant cause of under enumeration.


This is a person of any age who is a natural, adopted, step, foster or nominal son or daughter of a couple or lone parent, usually resident in the same household. A child is also any individual under 15, usually resident in the household, who forms a parent-child relationship with another member of the household. This includes otherwise related children less than 15 years of age and unrelated children less than 15 years of age. In order to be classified as a child, the person can have no identified partner or child of his/her own usually resident in the household. A separate family in the household is formed in this instance. If a person is aged under 15 and has a partner and/or a spouse these relationships are not recorded.

Child under 15

This is a person who has been classified as a child of another household member and who is aged under 15 years. A person who is classified as a child under 15 is considered to be a dependent child.

Collection District

The Census Collection District (CD) is the second smallest geographic area defined in the Australian Standard Geographical Classification (ASGC). For the 2006 Census, CDs serve as the basic building block in the ASGC and are used for the aggregation of statistics to larger Census geographic areas, including Statistical Local Area (SLA).

For the 2006 Census, there is an average of about 225 dwellings in each CD. In rural areas, the number of dwellings per CD generally declines as population densities decrease. CDs are defined for each Census and are current only at Census time. For the 2006 Census, there are about 38,200 CDs throughout Australia (this includes the other territories of Christmas and Cocos (Keeling) Islands and Jervis Bay). For more information see Census Dictionary, 2006 (cat. no. 2901.0).

Core activity need for assistance

Measure introduced in the 2006 Census of Population and Housing to determine the number of people with a profound or severe disability. For the Census, people with a profound or severe disability are defined as those people needing help or assistance in one or more of the three core activity areas of self-care, mobility and communication, because of a disability, long term health condition (lasting six months or more) or old age.

Counting unit

The basic counting unit for homelessness estimation is the person. This counting unit provides for the richness of their personal characteristics (including relationships with others) for analysis as well and by their living situation.

Country of birth

The Census records a person's country of birth. For the 2001 and 2006 Censuses, the Standard Australian Classification of Countries (SACC) is used to classify responses for country of birth of person. This classification uses the current names of countries, so if a person uses a former name, the current name is coded. For example, Siam would be coded to Thailand.

Couple family

A couple family is identified by the existence of a couple relationship. A couple relationship is defined as two people usually residing in the same household who share a social, economic and emotional bond usually associated with marriage and who consider their relationship to be a marriage or marriage-like union. This relationship is identified by the presence of a registered marriage or de facto marriage. A couple family can be with or without children, and may or may not include other related individuals.

Data quality

Each stage of the Census is subject to stringent quality assurance procedures which result in data of high quality. However, in a Census there are recognised sources of error and some of these may survive in the data produced. Potential sources of error in the Census are: under enumeration, respondent error, processing error and introduced random error. Introduced random error is used to protect the confidentiality of individuals. The effect of such errors on overall Census results is generally insignificant and does not impair the usefulness of Census data.

Domestic violence

Violence by any member of the person's household (eg partners, parents, siblings, children, housemates, & other household members).


In general terms, a dwelling is a structure which is intended to have people live in it, and which is habitable on Census Night. Some examples of dwellings are houses, motels, flats, caravans, prisons, tents, humpies and houseboats. Private dwellings are enumerated using household forms, which obtain family and relationship data.

Non-private dwellings (hotels, hospitals etc.) are enumerated on individual personal forms.

All occupied dwellings are counted in the Census. Unoccupied private dwellings are also counted with the exception of unoccupied dwellings in caravan parks, marinas and manufactured home estates. Unoccupied residences of owners, managers or caretakers of such establishments are counted. And for the 2006 Census, unoccupied units in retirement villages (self-contained) are also counted.

Dwelling Location

Dwelling Location applies to private dwellings, and describes the location of dwellings other than 'typical' private dwellings. The majority of private dwellings will appear in the 'Other' category.

Dwelling Structure

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

The broad categories are

Separate house: This is a house which stands alone in its own grounds separated from other dwellings by at least half a metre. A separate house may have a flat attached to it, such as a granny flat or converted garage (the flat is categorised under Flat, unit or apartment - see below). The number of storeys of separate houses is not recorded

Also included in this category are occupied accommodation units in manufactured home estates which are identified as separate houses.

Semi-detached, row or terrace house, townhouse, etc: These dwellings have their own private grounds and no other dwelling above or below them.

Flat, unit or apartment: This category includes all dwellings in blocks of flats, units or apartments. These dwellings do not have their own private grounds and usually share a common entrance foyer or stairwell. This category also includes flats attached to houses such as granny flats, and houses converted into two or more flats.

Caravan, cabin, houseboat: This category includes all occupied caravans, cabins and houseboats regardless of location. It also includes occupied campervans, mobile houses and small boats. Separate houses in caravan/residential parks or marinas occupied by managers are not included in this category.

Improvised home, tent, sleepers-out: This category includes sheds, tents, humpies and other improvised dwellings, occupied on Census Night. It also includes people sleeping on park benches or in other 'rough' accommodation.

House or flat attached to a shop, office, etc.: A house or flat attached to a shop, office, factory or any other non-residential structure is included in this category.

Dwelling Type

Dwelling type classifies all dwellings into the basic dwelling types. The categories are:

Occupied Private Dwelling: An occupied private dwelling is a private dwelling occupied by one or more people.

A private dwelling is normally a house, flat, or even a room. It can also be a caravan, houseboat, tent, or a house attached to an office, or rooms above a shop.

Occupied dwellings in caravan/residential parks are treated as occupied private dwellings.

Occupied dwellings in manufactured home estates and units in retirement villages (self-contained) were classified as occupied private dwellings since the 1996 Census.

Unoccupied Private Dwellings: These are structures built specifically for living purposes which are habitable, but unoccupied on Census Night. Vacant houses, holiday homes, huts and cabins (other than seasonal workers' quarters) are counted as unoccupied dwellings. Also included are newly completed dwellings not yet occupied, dwellings which are vacant because they are due for demolition or repair, and dwellings to let.

Unoccupied private dwellings in caravan/residential parks, marinas and manufactured home estates are not counted in the Census. The exception to the above are residences of owners, managers or caretakers of the establishment and for the 2006 Census, unoccupied residences in retirement villages (self-contained).

Non-Private Dwellings (NPDs): NPDs are those dwellings, not included above, that provide a communal or transitory type of accommodation.

NPDs include hotels, motels, guest houses, prisons, religious and charitable institutions, boarding schools, defence establishments, hospitals and other communal dwellings.

People in NPDs are enumerated on personal forms and so information on their family structure is not available. In the case of accommodation for the retired or aged, where the one establishment contains both self-contained units and units that are not self-contained, then both household forms (self-contained) and personal forms (not self-contained) are used as appropriate.

Migratory: People enumerated on an overnight journey by plane, train or bus cannot be allocated a dwelling type. This category exists for processing purposes only.

Off-Shore: This includes dwellings such as off-shore oil rigs, drilling platforms and the like. Prior to the 2006 Census, it also included people enumerated aboard ships in Australian waters.

Shipping: This dwelling type is for people enumerated aboard ships in Australian waters. For the 2001 and earlier Censuses, they were included in the 'Offshore' category.


See Level of Highest Educational Attainment.

Educational qualification

Every Census since 1911 has included a question in which respondents reported their highest level of educational achievement. In the 1966 Census, respondents were asked to provide details of the qualification title and the institution at which it was obtained. In all Censuses since 1966, people aged 15 years and over have been asked whether they had obtained a qualification and, if so, the qualification name and field of study. The 1971 Census also asked whether the person was currently studying for a qualification and, if so, its name. Prior to 2001, this information was restricted to post-school educational qualifications. From 2001, the information includes all qualifications (both school and post-school) and the level and field of the highest qualification.

Qualifications data are used to assess the skill level of the labour force, and potential labour force, and are valuable for the planning and implementation of labour force training programs.


See Labour force status.


See Place of enumeration, Place of usual residence.

Estimated Resident population of Australia

The Estimated Resident Population (ERP) is the official measure of the Australian population, and is based on the concept of usual residence. It refers to all people, regardless of nationality or citizenship, who usually live in Australia, with the exception of foreign diplomatic personnel and their families. The ERP includes usual residents who are overseas for less than 12 months and excludes overseas visitors who are in Australia for less then 12 months.

European typology of homelessness (ETHOS)

The European typology of homelessness and housing exclusion (ETHOS) currently defines homelessness as being without a ‘home’. Having a ‘home’ can be understood as: having an adequate dwelling (or space) over which a person and his/her family can exercise exclusive possession (physical domain); being able to maintain privacy and enjoy relations (social domain) and having a legal title to occupation (legal domain).

ETHOS classifies homelessness people into four broad conceptual categories:
  • rooflessness: without a shelter of any kind, sleeping rough
  • houselessness: with a place to sleep but temporary in institutions or shelter
  • living in insecure housing: threatened with severe exclusion due to insecure tenancies, eviction, domestic violence
  • living in inadequate housing: in caravans on illegal campsites, in unfit housing, in extreme overcrowding.


A family is defined by the ABS as two or more persons, one of whom is at least 15 years of age, who are related by blood, marriage (registered or de facto), adoption, step or fostering, and who are usually resident in the same household.

Each separately identified couple relationship, lone parent-child relationship or other blood relationship forms the basis of a family. Some households contain more than one family.

Visiting families are not included as part of the household, and the relationships of other visitors are not coded. A household containing only a visiting family (e.g. a family at a holiday home) is coded to a household type of visitors only.

Where all persons present are aged under 15 years, or where information for each person has been imputed, the household is deemed not classifiable to a family. Of people listed as temporarily absent, only spouse(s) and family children are used in coding family composition.

Family Type

Families are classified in terms of the relationships that exist between a single family reference person and each other member of that family. The Family Type variable distinguishes between different types of families based on the presence or absence of couple relationships, parent-child relationships, child dependency relationships or other blood relationships, in that order of preference. Family type is derived from people enumerated in the household who usually reside there, and who share a familial relationship. Partners and dependent children usually present but temporarily absent are also included in this derivation.

Note: There is no provision for 'other related individuals' in second and third families. If more than three families are found in a household, only three families are separately classified and any other people are classified as either related family members or non-family members as appropriate.

See also Family.

Family violence

Violence against a person by any family member (eg sibling, resident and non-resident family members).

Flow measures of homelessness

Flow measure is an estimate of the number of people experiencing at least one period of homelessness over a given period of time, for example, over a 12 month period.

See Incidence measures of homelessness.

Full/Part-Time Student status

The Census records the full/part-time status of students.

General Social Survey (GSS)

The General Social Survey aims to collect data for persons aged 18 years and over on a range of social dimensions from the same individual to enable analysis of the interrelationships in social circumstances and outcomes, including the exploration of multiple advantage and disadvantage experienced in Australia.

Grey Nomads

Grey nomads are defined as people in dwellings where all people in the dwelling were aged 55 years and over, were not in the labour force, and were staying in caravans, cabins or houseboats on Census night, and reported having no usual address. The majority of these grey nomads were enumerated in holiday destinations including the northern beaches in NSW, and in Queensland, NT and northern WA.

Group household

The ABS defines a group household as a household consisting of two or more unrelated people where all persons are aged 15 years and over. There are no reported couple relationships, parent-child relationships or other blood relationships in these households.

An unrelated child (e.g. boarder) under the age of 15 who lives in a household with one or more usual residents, is coded as forming a parent-child relationship within that household. These households become family households, not group households.

Highest Year of School Completed

The Census records the highest level of primary or secondary school a person has completed. Highest year of school completed is classified to the Australian Standard Classification of Education (ASCED).

This classification has changed since the 2001 Census. In 2001 it included a category 'Still at school'. The 'Still at school' category is excluded from the 2006 classification. This allows the level of highest educational attainment to be determined for people still at school.


In accordance with the ABS statistical definition, when a person does not have suitable accommodation alternatives they are considered homeless if their current living arrangement
  • is in a dwelling that is inadequate, or
  • has no tenure, or if their initial tenure is short and not extendable, or
  • does not allow them to have control of, and access to space for social relations.

See Information Paper: A Statistical Definition of Homelessness (cat. no. 4922.0).

Homelessness Statistics Reference Group (HSRG)

Advisory group to the ABS on the development, collection, compilation, production and dissemination of robust statistics for the use in analysing, understanding and reporting on homelessness in Australia.

Hours Worked

The Census records the number of hours worked in all jobs held during the week before Census Night, by employed people aged 15 years and over. This excludes any time off but includes any overtime or extra time worked. Hours worked, when used in combination with Labour Force Status, provides information on full-time and part-time employment. For Census purposes, a person is considered to be working full-time if they worked 35 hours or more in all jobs during the week prior to Census Night.


Occupied houseboats have been classified as occupied private dwellings since the 1986 Census, and therefore receive household forms. Unoccupied houseboats are not counted.


A household is defined as one or more persons, at least one of whom is at least 15 years of age, usually resident in the same private dwelling. Under this definition, all occupants of a dwelling form a household and complete one form. Therefore, for Census purposes, the total number of households is equal to the total number of occupied private dwellings as a Census form is completed for each household from which dwelling information for the household is obtained.

Household Composition

The Census records the type of household within a dwelling. Household composition indicates whether a family is present or not and whether or not other unrelated household members are present.

A maximum of three families can be coded to a household. Lone person households can contain visitors. Visitor only households can contain overseas visitors.

Household form

The household form is the primary means for collecting Census data and is used in all private dwellings. A personal form records person characteristics in cases where a household form is not appropriate. If there are more than six people in a household on Census Night, a personal form is completed for the seventh person, and any subsequent persons.

Household Income

This variable is the sum of the individual incomes of each resident present in the household on Census Night. If any resident aged 15 years and over is temporarily absent, or does not state their income, then household income is not derived for that household.

In most cases, the income of visitors to a household is excluded from the calculation of household income. The exception to this is households that comprise only visitors. Household income is calculated for these households in order to collect data on household income in tourist areas.

The 2006 Census collected individual income in ranges, so before these could be summed to a household level a specific dollar amount needed to be imputed for each person. Median incomes for each range, derived using data from the 2003-04 Survey of Income and Housing, were used for the purpose of compiling household income measures.

This method, which imputes personal income values within reported individual income ranges, was selected as the best practical approximation that would result in the majority of households being included in the same Census household income range that would have been derived had individuals reported their incomes in dollar amounts rather than in ranges. The approximations are expected to generally support analyses looking at various other characteristics of both persons and households in terms of broad household income ranges.

The imputation used in deriving household income is likely to understate some household incomes, specifically lower household incomes in general but particularly for single income households. Single income households with lower income levels are most affected by the imputation methodology understating their incomes. For example, for single parent family households with the parent under 45 years of age, analysis shows that nearly twice as many such households were likely to be allocated to the low income range of $250 to $349 per week than would have been the case had incomes been reported in dollar amounts (with fewer than expected households in higher income ranges). Similarly for sole person households where the resident is aged 65 years and over, analysis shows the number of households that were likely to be allocated to the low income range of $250 to $349 per week was about 15% higher than would have been the case had incomes been reported in dollar amounts.

A more general issue with individual income reporting in the Census is that studies have shown individuals tend to understate their incomes compared with the amounts that would be reported in surveys designed specifically to measure income.

For the above reasons, care should be exercised in any use of Census household income information, which relies on the imputed values. Similar care should be taken when using 2001 Census data.

Household Type

See Household Composition.

Hours worked in all jobs last week

Records the number of hours worked in all jobs held during the week before Census Night, by employed people aged 15 years and over. This excludes any time off but includes any overtime or extra time worked.

Housing Loan Repayments (monthly)

Housing loan repayments are those which are being paid by a household to purchase the dwelling in which it was enumerated (also applicable to caravans). The Census collects this information in single dollars up to $9,999. However, for practical purposes this information is recoded to a specific number of ranges.

Improvised dwelling

See Dwelling, Dwelling Structure.


Imputation is a statistical process for predicting values where no response was provided to a question and a response could not be derived.

Where no Census form is returned, the number of males and females in 'non-contact' private dwellings may be imputed. In addition, the following key demographic variables may also be imputed, if they are 'Not stated':
  • Age
  • Place of Usual Residence
  • Registered Marital Status.

The imputation method used for the 2006 Census is known as 'hotdecking'. In general this method involves locating a donor record and copying the relevant responses to the record requiring imputation. The donor record will have similar characteristics and must also have the required variable(s) stated. In addition the donor record will be located geographically as close as possible to the location of the record to be imputed. The match must occur within the same Capital City or Balance of State. When a suitable match is found, then the copying of the response(s) from the donor record to the variable(s) that have missing values can occur.

The methodology for imputation is tailored to two situations. Firstly, where no Census form has been returned and secondly where a partially completed form was returned.

No Census form returned - private dwelling: Where a Census collector has identified that a private dwelling was occupied on Census Night but a Census form was not returned, the number of males and females normally in the dwelling and their key demographic variables may require imputation. In these cases, the non-demographic variables are set to 'Not stated' or 'Not applicable'.

The 'No Census form returned' scenario has two variations. Firstly, where no form was returned but the collector was able to ascertain the number of males and females from a resident of the dwelling, or in a small number of cases a building manager or neighbour. And secondly, where no form was returned and the number of males and females remains unknown.

For records where the number of males and females is unknown, two imputation processes are required. Initially these records must have their number of males and females imputed using hotdecking. Then a second imputation (also using hotdecking) is run to impute the key demographic variables.

To hotdeck the number of males and females, the donor records must meet several conditions:
  • They must be records where no Census form was returned but where the number of males and females was ascertained by the collector;
  • They must have a similar Dwelling Structure to the record to be imputed;
  • They must be located geographically as close as possible to the location of the record to be imputed.

The number of males and females are the only data copied from the donor record in the first hotdecking process.

In the next process, the records which have just had their number of males and females imputed, are subjected to the same hotdecking process as those records where the number of males and females had been ascertained.

This hotdecking process imputes the key demographic variables. Again the donor records must meet several conditions:
  • They must be records where everyone within the dwelling provided all their demographic characteristics;
  • They must have similar Dwelling Structure and Dwelling Location;
  • They must have identical counts of males and females;
  • They must be located geographically as close as possible to the location of the record to be imputed.

The key demographic variables are then copied from the donor records to the records requiring imputation.

The method of imputing the counts of males and females in previous Censuses was to use the average number of males and females in responding private dwellings for that Collection District. This method was discovered to have over-imputed the 2001 Census male and female counts.

No Census form returned - non private dwelling: Where a person in a non-private dwelling did not return a form, their demographic characteristics are copied from another person in a similar non-private dwelling using Type of Non-Private Dwelling.

Census form returned: Where a form was returned, some or all of the demographic characteristics may require imputation. If Registered Marital Status and/or Place of Usual Residence are 'Not stated' they are imputed using hotdecking, whereas Age is imputed based on distributions obtained from previous Censuses. Registered Marital Status imputation is carried out by finding a similar person in a similar responding dwelling based on the variables:
  • Sex
  • Relationship in Private Dwelling
  • Age
  • Dwelling Type
  • Type of Non-Private Dwelling.

Registered Marital Status is only imputed for persons aged 15 years and over, and set to 'Not applicable' for persons aged under 15 years.

Where a complete usual address on Census Night is not provided, the information that is provided is used to impute an appropriate CD (and SLA). A similar person in a similar dwelling is located and missing usual residence fields are copied to the imputed variable.

These are based on the variables:
  • Residential Status in a Non-Private Dwelling
  • Dwelling Location
  • Type of Non-Private Dwelling.

Where date of birth or age details are incomplete or missing, the variable Age is imputed based on distributions for particular populations (for example, male or female; marital status and state/territory of usual residence). Factors affecting age imputation include any reported labour force activity, educational institution attending and other family member relationships and ages.

Incidence measures of homelessness

Estimates the number of people experiencing at least one period of homelessness over a given period of time, for example, over a 12 month period (also known as flow measures). They may include multiple incidences of homelessness for some individuals.


Each Census respondent aged 15 years and over is asked to indicate the range within which their gross income from all sources lies (rather than their exact income).

Gross income includes wages, salaries, overtime, business or farm income (less operating expenses), rents received, dividends, interest, superannuation, maintenance (child support), workers' compensation, and government pensions and allowances (including all payments for family assistance, labour market assistance, youth and student support, and support for the aged, carers and people with a disability).

As income from most sources is reported before deduction of expenses incurred in the earning of the income, these incomes are always a positive figure. However, income from some sources may be negative. Income from own unincorporated enterprise and income from rental property are collected net of expenses incurred in the raising of income, so may be negative. This may result in a negative total income.

While there is a tendency for incomes to be slightly understated in the Census, the distribution is largely consistent with that obtained from the ABS income surveys. Therefore, Census income data is useful as an indicator of relative advantage or disadvantage and economic well being.

Testing of the topic has shown that there is a general tendency for those not in the labour force to leave this question unanswered, as they consider income only applies to payments received as a result of employment. Similarly, pensioners and self funded retirees sometimes state that they receive no income as they do not regard their pension as income.

Indigenous personal form

See Interviewer household form.

Indigenous special enumeration strategy

The ABS has implemented procedures tailored to the enumeration of Indigenous people living in discrete communities since the 1976 Census.

Central to the 2006 strategy was the role undertaken by the State Indigenous Manager (SIM). The SIM laid the groundwork for a successful enumeration by working with Indigenous groups and media to encourage participation. The SIM also coordinated the enumeration activities which affected Indigenous peoples.

The SIM in each state and territory was supported by the Indigenous Engagement Manager (IEM). IEMs are ongoing ABS staff members employed to implement the ABS' Indigenous Community Engagement Strategy, and have responsibility for liaising with Indigenous communities and organisations and advising the ABS on enumeration issues relating to Indigenous people. IEMs also facilitate the return of ABS data to Indigenous communities and organisations in a culturally appropriate manner. In some states the IEM will take on the role of the SIM.

As in the past, Census Field Officers are employed to work with Indigenous communities to ensure they are counted in the Census. This includes gaining community acceptance for the Census and the recruitment of local field staff.

In certain Indigenous communities, an interview form designed to be appropriate to Indigenous culture is used. This part of the strategy is used in discrete communities where communities indicate the need due to the cultural or language situation. In these cases Census Field Officers recruit, train and work with people from the community so that they can manage the enumeration and conduct the interviews.

In other areas, Indigenous peoples are enumerated using standard procedures and forms. Special collectors skilled in Indigenous languages and culture are available to assist in these areas if required.

Indigenous Status

The question about Indigenous origins on the Census form asks whether each person is of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander origin. Torres Strait Islanders are the descendants of the Indigenous people of the Torres Strait, between the tip of Cape York and Papua New Guinea.

Individual Income

Individual incomes are collected as ranges in the Census. To enable these range values to be summed, information from the Survey of Income and Housing, which collects income as individual values, is used to estimate the median income within each bracket collected by the Census. The relevant median value for each family/household member is then summed to produce family or household income.

Industry of employment

Industry of employment describes the industries in which employed people aged 15 years and over work. The Australian and New Zealand Standard Industrial Classification (ANZSIC) is used in classifying the responses given to the industry questions for the 2006 Census.

Interviewer household form

The interviewer household form is used in nominated discrete Indigenous communities (communities of Indigenous people in which language differences or other factors make use of the standard self-enumeration forms impractical). The interviewer household form is an interview based Census form which is used to record the details of up to 12 persons in a household, and some dwelling data. If there are more than 12 persons in a dwelling a second interviewer household form is used to record the details of subsequent persons.

Introduced random error

Under the Census and Statistics Act 1905 it is an offence to release any information collected under the Act that is likely to enable identification of any particular individual or organisation. Introduced random error is used to ensure that no data are released which could risk the identification of individuals in the statistics.

Care has been taken in the tables which are presented to minimise the risk of identifying individuals. In addition, a technique has been applied to randomly adjust cell values. Random adjustment of the data is considered to be the most satisfactory technique for avoiding the release of identifiable Census data. The technique has been applied and all cells are slightly adjusted to prevent any identifiable data being exposed. These adjustments result in small introduced random errors. However the information value of the table as a whole is not impaired.

It is not possible to determine which individual figures have been affected by random error adjustments, but the small variance which may be associated with derived totals can, for the most part, be ignored.

Labour force

For Census purposes, the labour force includes people aged 15 years and over who work for payment or profit, or as an unpaid helper in a family business, during the week prior to Census Night; have a job from which they are on leave or otherwise temporarily absent; are on strike or stood down temporarily; or do not have a job but are actively looking for work and available to start work.

Persons classified as being in the labour force as those employed (i.e. the first three groups above); and unemployed people (i.e. the last group above).

People aged 15 years and over who are neither employed nor unemployed are classified as not in the labour force. This includes people who are retired, pensioners and people engaged solely in home duties.

Labour force status

In the Census the Labour force status variable is derived for all people aged 15 years and over. It classifies people as employed working full-time, part-time or away from work, unemployed looking for full-time work, looking for part-time work, or not in the labour force. The category 'Employed, away from work' also includes persons who stated they worked but who did not state the number of hours worked.

Landlord Type

The Census provides information on the type of landlord for rented dwellings. It applies to all households who are renting the dwelling (including caravans, etc. in caravan parks) in which they are enumerated on Census Night.

Level of Highest Educational Attainment

Records the highest educational achievement a person aged 15 years and over has attained. It lists qualifications and other educational attainments regardless of the particular field of study or the type of institution in which the study was undertaken.

Location of dwelling

See Dwelling location.

Lone parent

A lone parent is a person who has no spouse or partner usually resident in the household, but who forms a parent-child relationship with at least one child usually resident in the household. The child may be either dependent or non-dependent.

Lone person household

Any private dwelling in which there is only one usual resident at least 15 years of age, is classified as being a lone person household.


See Caravans, houseboats, cabins etc.


The mean is calculated by summing the values of all observations in a set of data and then dividing by the number of observations in the set. Thus: mean = sum of all the observed values / number of observations.


The median is the value that divides a set of data exactly in half. It is the middle value when the values in a set of data are arranged in order. If there is no middle value (i.e. there are an even number of values) then the median is calculated by determining the mean of the two middle values. Thus: median = the middle value of a set of data.

New migrants

A person who has arrived in Australia in the Census year who has been in the country no more than 7 months (ie in the Census year).

Non-dependent child

A person aged 15 years or more, who is a natural, adopted, step, or foster child of a couple or lone parent usually resident in the same household, who is not a full-time student aged 15-24 years, and who has no identified partner or child of his/her own usually resident in the household.

Non-private dwelling

See Type of Non-Private Dwelling.

Non-school Qualification: Level of education

Level of education is defined as the field of study of the highest completed non-school qualification.

Not in the labour force

Persons not in the labour force are those persons who, during the week prior to Census Night, were neither employed nor unemployed. They include persons who were keeping house (unpaid), retired, voluntarily inactive, permanently unable to work, in gaol, trainee teachers, members of contemplative religious orders, and persons whose only activity during the week prior to Census Night was jury service or unpaid voluntary work for a charitable organisation.

Number of Bedrooms in Private Dwelling

Measures the number of bedrooms in each occupied private dwelling, including caravans in caravan parks.


Occupation is collected in the Census for all employed people aged 15 years and over. Two questions are used in the Census: 'In the main job held last week, what was the person's occupation - Give full title', and 'What are the main tasks that the person usually performs in the occupation...'

Collecting both occupation title and task information ensures more accurate coding of occupations. The 2006 Census uses the Australian and New Zealand Standard Classification of Occupations (ANZSCO). For more information see Australian and New Zealand Standard Classification of Occupations (cat. no. 1220.0). The Australian Standard Classification of Occupations (ASCO) Second Edition was used in the 2001 Census.

Occupied private dwelling

See Dwelling.

Older persons travelling on Census night

Includes persons in dwellings where all persons in the dwelling were aged 55 years and over, were not in the labour force, and were staying in a caravan, cabin or houseboat, who reported having a usual address elsewhere on Census night.


Households living in dwellings requiring extra bedrooms according to the Canadian National Occupancy Standard (CNOS).

See also Canadian National Occupancy Standard (CNOS).

Over estimation

In the context of estimating homelessness over estimation occurs when persons who are represented in the underlying data set are misclassified as homeless when they are not.

See also Under-enumeration, Underestimation.

Overseas visitor

See Visitors to Australia


A person identified as being in a couple relationship with another person usually resident in the same household is a partner. The couple relationship is established through reporting of either a registered or de facto marriage, and includes same-sex couples.

Partner violence

Any incident of sexual assault, threatened sexual assault, physical assault or threatened or attempted physical assault by a current and/or previous partner.

Personal form

The Census personal form records details for one person only. It contains the same questions as the household form, but excludes the household questions. The personal form is used
  • for households with more than six people: the household form accommodates six people, so one personal form is completed for each extra person,
  • for privacy: if any person in a household prefers, for privacy reasons, not to be recorded on the household form, then a personal form and a privacy envelope are issued for that person, and
  • in non-private dwellings: one personal form is completed for each person in a non-private dwelling on Census Night.

Personal Safety Survey (PSS)

The Personal Safety Survey aims to collect information about men's and women's experience of physical or sexual assault or threat by male and female perpetrators. Experiences of the different types of violence, since the age of 15, by different types of male and female perpetrators (including current partner, previous partner, boyfriend/girlfriend or date, other known man or women, and stranger) is explored. More detailed information, such as where the incident occurred and what action was taken, can be obtained for most recent incidents of each of the different types of violence by a male and female perpetrator. Additional information is also collected about respondents experience of current and previous partner violence such as frequency and fears of violence, incidents of stalking and other forms of harassment and general feelings of safety.

Place of birth

See Country of birth.

Place of enumeration

The place of enumeration is the place at which the person is counted i.e. where he/she spent Census Night, which may not be where he/she usually lives.

Place of usual residence

This is the place where a person usually lives. It may, or may not be the place where the person was counted on Census Night.

Place of usual residence five years ago

Place of usual residence five years ago identifies a person's place of usual residence five years before the Census.


Census count of persons based on their reported place of usual residence.

Post enumeration survey (PES)

A measure of the undercount in the Census is obtained from a sample survey of households undertaken shortly after the Census, called the Post Enumeration Survey. It collects information about where people were on Census Night and their characteristics, which are compared to the actual Census forms. The Post Enumeration Survey found an undercount of 1.8% in the 2001 Census, 2.7% in the 2006 Census and 1.7% in the 2011 Census.

The PES is only conducted in private dwellings therefore it cannot be used to estimate the undercount of homeless people on Census night.

Prevalence measure of homelessness

Measure estimating how many people experience homelessness at one point in time, on Census night (also known as point-in-time estimate). A prevalence estimate should ensure that each person is included only once in the estimate if they were homeless at a particular point in time.

Private dwelling

See Dwelling.

Proficiency in Spoken English

Proficiency in spoken English refers to persons who speak a language other than English at home, who report their self assessed proficiency in spoken English. It should be regarded as an indicator of a person's ability to speak English rather than a definitive measure of his/her ability and should be interpreted with care.

Registered marital status

Registered Marital Status reports responses to the question 'What is the person's present marital status?' and refers to the legal status of the person, and not necessarily his/her current living arrangement. The partners in a registered marriage must be of the opposite sex as same-sex relationships cannot be registered as marriages in Australia. Marital status is applicable to people aged 15 years and over.

Relationship in Household

This variable describes the relationship of each person in a family to the family reference person or, where a person is not part of a family, that person's relationship to the household reference person.

Children who are usually resident in the household are classified as dependent if they form a parent child relationship and are either 0-14 years of age; or they are 15-24 years of age and also a full-time student (in secondary or tertiary education). Children who are aged 15-24 years who are not full-time students and children aged 25 years and over are classified as non-dependent children. Children who are aged 25 years and over with a child or partner of his/her own, or who are full-time students aged 15-24 years of age with a child or partner of his/her own, are classified according to that relationship.

Remoteness area

Within the Australian Standard Geographical Classification (ASGC), the Remoteness classification comprises five categories, each of which identifies a (non-contiguous) region in Australia being a grouping of Collection Districts (CDs) sharing a particular degree of remoteness. The degrees of remoteness range from 'highly accessible' (i.e. major cities) to 'very remote'.

Rent (weekly)

The Census records the individual dollar amounts of rent paid by households on a weekly basis for the dwelling in which they were enumerated on Census Night. This includes caravans etc. in caravan parks. The categories range from $0-$9,999 in single dollar amounts.


See Dwelling, Household, Usual residence.

Residential Status in a Non-Private Dwelling

The Census records whether people enumerated in non-private dwellings (such as motels, hospitals, colleges etc.) are staying there as either: members of staff of the accommodation (e.g. owner, proprietor, porter, cook, teacher, warden, family of owner or family of staff); or residents, guests, patients, inmates, etc.

No information on family relationships is available for people in non-private dwellings because they are numerated using personal forms.


See Supported Accommodation Assistance Program.

Scope and coverage

The 2006 Census of Population and Housing aims to count every person who spent Census Night, 8 August 2006, in Australia. This includes people in the six states, the Northern Territory, the Australian Capital Territory, Jervis Bay Territory, and the external territories of Christmas Island and Cocos (Keeling) Islands. The other Australian external territories (Norfolk Island, and minor islands such as Heard and McDonald Islands), are outside the scope of the Australian Census.

People who leave Australia but who are not required to undertake migration formalities, for example those on oil and gas rigs off the Australian coast, and expeditioners to the Australian Antarctic Territory (and other locations) are also included in the Census. They are coded to Off-Shore Collection Districts.

All private dwellings, except diplomatic dwellings, are included in the Census, whether occupied or unoccupied. Caravans in caravan parks and manufactured homes in manufactured home estates, are counted only if occupied. For the 2006 Census, unoccupied residences in retirement villages (self-contained) are included. In previous Censuses they were excluded. Occupied non-private dwellings, such as hospitals, prisons, hotels, etc. are also included.

For more detail see Census Dictionary, 2006 (cat. no. 2901.0).


Self-enumeration is the term used to describe the way Census data are collected. The Census forms are generally completed by householders (or individuals in non-private dwellings) rather than by interviewers, although interviewers are available in some areas if required.


The sex of each person enumerated in the Census is recorded as being either male or female.


See Statistical Local Area.


See Dwelling Structure.

Socio-Economic Indexes for Areas - Index of Relative Socio-economic Disadvantage (IRSD)

The Index of relative socio-economic disadvantage is a general socio-economic index that summarises a wide range of information about the economic and social resources of people and households within an area. Because this index focuses on disadvantage, only measures of relative disadvantage are included. This means that a high score (or decile) reflects a relative lack of disadvantage rather than relative advantage.

This index summarises 17 different measures, such as low income, low education, high unemployment and unskilled occupations. A low score indicates relatively greater disadvantage in general. For example, an area could have a low score if there are (among other things) many households with low income, many people with no qualifications, or many people in low skilled occupations.

A high score indicates a relative lack of disadvantage in general. For example, an area may have a high score if there are (among other things) few households with low incomes, few people with no qualifications or in low skilled occupations.

Stock measures

See Prevalence measures of homelessness.

South Sea Islander

Australian South Sea Islanders are the descendants of South Sea Islanders brought to Australia as indentured labour around the turn of the twentieth century and have been identified by legislation as a disadvantaged minority group.

This group excludes later voluntary migrants from the South Pacific region.

Specialist Homelessness Services

As of the 1st of July, 2011, The Supported Accommodation Assistance Program (see SAAP) National Data Collection was replaced with the Specialist Homelessness Services (SHS) collection. The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) will compile the data, the first of which will become available in 2012. This Specialist Homelessness Services (SHS) data collection will provide data about the pathways people take in and out of homelessness and the kinds of work homelessness agencies do. It will be able to identify individual clients as well as support periods and children will be counted as individual clients. In addition, family information will be more accurate. Information about previous episodes of homelessness and people turned away from homelessness agencies will also be available. The data will be able to provide snapshots of homelessness at a given point in time, which was not previously available with the past datasets.

Special Indigenous personal form

See Interviewer household form.


See Partner.

State and territory

The State/Territory is the largest spatial unit in the Australian Standard Geographical Classification (ASGC). There are six states and five territories in the ASGC: New South Wales, Victoria, Queensland, South Australia, Western Australia, Tasmania, Northern Territory, Australian Capital Territory, Jervis Bay Territory and the external Territories of Christmas Island and Cocos (Keeling) Islands.

Jervis Bay Territory, and the Territories of Christmas Island and Cocos (Keeling) Islands are grouped as one spatial unit at the State/Territory level in the category of Other Territories.

States/Territories consist of one or more Statistical Divisions. In aggregate, they cover Australia without gaps or overlaps.

Statistical Division (SD)

A Statistical Division (SD) is an Australian Standard Geographical Classification (ASGC) defined area which represents a large, general purpose, regional type geographic area. SDs represent relatively homogeneous regions characterised by identifiable social and economic links between the inhabitants and between the economic units within the region, under the unifying influence of one or more major towns or cities. They consist of one or more Statistical Subdivisions (SSDs) and cover, in aggregate, the whole of Australia without gaps or overlaps. They do not cross state or territory boundaries and are the largest statistical building blocks of states and territories.

In New South Wales, proclaimed New South Wales Government Regions coincide with SDs except for North Coast, which consists of the SDs of Richmond-Tweed and Mid-North Coast.

In the remaining states and territories, SDs are designed in line with the ASGC general purpose regional spatial unit definition.

For more information and a list of the Statistical Divisions in each state/territory, refer to Statistical Geography Volume 1: Australian Standard Geographical Classification (ASGC) 2006 (cat. no. 1216.0). Maps are available from ABS Information Consultancy.

Statistical Local Area (SLA)

The Statistical Local Area (SLA) is an Australian Standard Geographical Classification (ASGC) defined area which consists of one or more Collection Districts (CDs). SLAs are Local Government Areas (LGAs), or parts thereof. Where there is no incorporated body of local government, SLAs are defined to cover the unincorporated areas. SLAs cover, in aggregate, the whole of Australia without gaps or overlaps.

For more information and a list of the Statistical Local Areas in each state/territory, refer to Statistical Geography Volume 1: Australian Standard Geographical Classification (ASGC) 2006 (cat. no. 1216.0). Maps are available from ABS Information Consultancy.


See Full/Part-Time student status.

Supported Accommodation Assistance Program (SAAP)

The Supported Accommodation Assistance Program (SAAP) was established in 1985 to consolidate a number of Commonwealth, State and Territory government programs assisting people experiencing homelessness and those at risk of homelessness, including women escaping domestic violence. From the 1st of July, SAAP was replaced with the Specialist Homelessness Services.

The overall aim of SHS is to provide transitional supported accommodation and related support services, in order to help people who are homeless to achieve the maximum possible degree of self-reliance and independence
  • to resolve crisis;
  • to re-establish family links where appropriate;
  • to re-establish a capacity to live independently of SAAP.

The states and territories were responsible for managing the program, while services were provided largely by independent agencies. In 2007-08 approximately 1,550 non government, community or local government organisations were funded nationally under the program. Such organisations ranged from small stand-alone agencies with single outlets to larger auspice bodies with multiple outlets. They provided accommodation and support services to a range of groups including homeless families, singles, young people, and women and children escaping domestic violence.

Survey of Disability, Ageing and Carers

The Survey of Disability, Ageing and Carers (SDAC) aims to measure the prevalence of disability in Australia and levels of support needed, as well as providing a demographic and socio-economic profile of people with disability and older people (65 years and over) compared with the general population. It also provides information about people who provide care to older people and people with disability.

Temporarily absent

The Census form seeks information about people who usually reside in a dwelling but who are temporarily absent on Census Night.


See Dwelling Structure.

Tenure Type

Tenure type describes whether a household is purchasing, rents or owns, the dwelling in which it was enumerated on Census Night, or whether the household occupies it under another arrangement. Tenure type is derived from the responses to a series of questions. It is applicable to all occupied private dwellings.


See Australia, State or Territory.

Torres Strait Islander people

People identified as being of Torres Strait Islander origin. May also include people identified as being of both Torres Strait Islander and Aboriginal origin.

Type of Educational Institution Attending

The Census 2006 records the type of educational institution being attended by people who are full/part-time students. The categories cover pre-school through to tertiary institutions.

Type of Non-Private Dwelling

The Census records the type of non-private dwelling in which people were enumerated on Census Night. Non-private dwellings are establishments which provide a communal type of accommodation. Examples of categories are Hotel, motel; Boarding house, private hotel; Public hospital (not psychiatric); and Child care institution.


Census collectors direct extensive efforts toward locating dwellings and households within districts, however locating them all is sometimes not possible. Some dwellings may not be identified. For example, in commercial areas, flats above or behind shops may be difficult to find. Also, particularly where contact is not made at delivery, flats behind or attached to private dwellings may not be included in the Census. Analysis of the undercount in previous Censuses has shown that people away from their usual residence on Census Night (for example, travelling, camping, staying in a non-private dwelling, or visiting friends) are more likely to be missed than people at home on Census Night.

Even when a household is found, under count is possible if not all members of the household are included on the form (for example, if there are more than six people in the household and no extra forms are obtained) or if the household, or a member of the household, refuses to cooperate and complete a Census form.

A measure of the extent of under enumeration is obtained from the Post Enumeration Survey (PES). The official population estimates produced by the ABS take into account the results of the PES. However, the Census counts are not adjusted. The PES is only conducted in private dwellings therefore it cannot be used to estimate the underenumeration of homeless people on Census night.

See also Post Enumeration Survey (PES).

Under estimation

The difficulty in isolating unique characteristics of the homeless population within the Census of Population and Housing can result in the misclassification of homeless persons, and subsequent underestimation of the homeless population. The complexity and diversity of persons homeless experiences, and persons not identifying themselves as homeless increases the likelihood of underestimation of homelessness in particular groups, including Youth, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, and people escaping domestic and family violence.


See Labour force status.

Unoccupied private dwelling

See Dwelling.

Usual address

Usual address information is used to code usual residence.

See Usual residence.

Usual residence

Usual residence data provide information on the usually resident population of an area, and on the internal migration patterns at the state and regional levels. The 2006 Census had three questions on usual residence that asked where the person usually lived on Census Night, and where the person usually lived one year ago and five years ago.

Family variables are only derived for people counted at their usual residence. Temporarily absent persons are used to classify types of relationships and families existing in a household, but they are not used in the derivation of any other Census characteristics or in other Census output. If all members of a family are absent from their usual residence, no family records are created for them. Family and household structures are based on persons usually resident. If all members of a family or household are temporarily absent, the family or household is not counted.

Visiting friends and relatives

Homeless operational group used by Chamberlain and MacKenzie in the report Counting the Homeless, 2006 (cat. no. 2050.0).

Visitor only households

For the purposes of homelessness estimation and estimating marginal housing visitor only households are those dwellings where all persons in the dwelling reported no usual address and there were no usual residents.

See also Visitors to a household, Usual residence.

Visitors to a household

Characteristics of individual visitors to a household are available at the household of enumeration. Visitors may also be tabulated according to their CD of usual residence but cannot be placed back to their dwelling of usual residence.

All household and family classifications in the Census are based on the relationships of people usually residing in the household. This applies when there is at least one person aged 15 years and over present. In these classifications, people temporarily absent are included, and visitors are excluded.

The relationship of visitors to one another, or to any resident (including cases where all the people enumerated are visitors) is not further classified.

Households containing only visitors are excluded from household mobility variables.

Visitors to Australia

Question 8 on the Census form, 'Where does the person usually live?' allows the identification of people who are usually resident in another country. These overseas visitors are identified as a separate category for all applicable variables.

Voluntary work for an organisation or group

For Census 2006, the number of people who spent time doing unpaid voluntary work through an organisation or group, in the twelve months prior to Census night was measured. It excludes work done
  • as part of paid employment
  • if main reason is to qualify for Government benefit
  • in a family business.

Weekly personal income

Provides an indicator of the gross income (including pensions and allowances) that persons aged 15 years and over usually receives each week.

Year of Arrival in Australia

The 2006 Census records the year of arrival in Australia for people born overseas who intend staying in Australia for at least one year. For the 2006 Census, the category 'Overseas visitor' consists of those people who report they usually reside in another country.