People who are experiencing homelessness are among the most marginalised people in Australia. Homelessness is one of the most potent examples of disadvantage in the community. A successful Census of Population and Housing is one that counts everyone in Australia on Census night, no matter where they are staying or sleeping. The estimates of people experiencing homelessness that are derived from the Census are important as they may have significant impacts on funding for services and programs and will provide insights into the living conditions of the homeless.
Homelessness itself is not a characteristic that is directly collected in the Census. Census based estimates of the homeless population are produced using a range of processes, such as special programs to collect from people sleeping rough and from supported accommodation, and analysis of a range of related Census responses.
The ABS definition of homelessness adopted for the 2011 and 2016 Censuses is based on the categories, or ‘operational groups’, outlined in Information Paper - A Statistical Definition of Homelessness, 2012 (cat. no. 4922.0). This approach will enable comparison with 2001, 2006 and 2011 estimates of homelessness. The definition is also used for a number of ABS collections enabling the compilation of robust and transparent homelessness statistics across a range of ABS datasets.
ABS will release the 2016 Census estimates of homelessness on 14 March 2018 as an update to the publication, Census of Population and Housing: Estimating Homelessness, 2011 (cat. no. 2049.0).