Every stat tells a story.

Census data supports essential services for people experiencing homelessness

Media Release

Homelessness Week (1-7 August 2021) is an opportunity to highlight the importance of Census data to inform services for people experiencing homelessness. The 2021 Census will be held on Tuesday 10 August.

The Census provides the only national estimate of the prevalence of homelessness, making it a vital resource for organisations supporting individuals and families experiencing homelessness or at risk of homelessness.

Georgia Chapman, Director 2021 Census Inclusive Strategies, says “Census data is used to plan and fund services such as emergency shelters, domestic violence programs and transitional housing. Knowing how many people are experiencing homelessness means organisations can plan and target services to meet the needs of the community.

“With the impact that COVID-19 has had on so many of us, the 2021 Census will provide valuable insights into how the pandemic has changed life in Australia.

“In areas where restrictions are in place, we’re working with the state government and local service providers to make sure people experiencing homelessness are counted safely on Census night.”

Census data is used extensively by organisations, such as the Salvation Army, to support people experiencing homelessness.

Dr Jed Donoghue, General Manager of Homelessness at the Salvation Army said, “It is important for the Salvation Army to have accurate data so we can deliver the right services. We have been working closely with the ABS to ensure our clients and communities are engaged and supported to participate in the 2021 Census."

The Australian Bureau of Statistics works closely with state and local governments and the homelessness sector to ensure people experiencing different forms of homelessness can participate in the Census safely and respectfully. This includes local support for people sleeping rough, staying in refuges and temporary accommodation.

For more information about how the Census supports people experiencing homelessness, visit www.census.abs.gov.au/help/homelessness.

More information

COVID-19 and the homelessness count
The health and safety of Census staff and members of the community throughout Census operations is the ABS’ highest priority. The ABS is constantly monitoring health and government advice regarding the changing COVID-19 pandemic to ensure that safety measures are current and best practice.

The ABS understands that COVID-19 has changed the landscape of where and how people are sleeping rough and is working alongside state and local governments and the homelessness sector, to ensure that everyone is counted in the Census safely.

What is the Census?
The Census, held on Tuesday 10 August 2021, is a snapshot of who we are and tells the story of how we are changing. It is one of the largest and most important statistical collections undertaken by the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

How will people complete their Census?
People will be able to complete the Census online, on their mobile device or on paper.

A number of options will be available for people who need assistance to complete their Census form including help from Census staff, and phone and online help.

What is new with the Census?
People can complete their Census as soon as they receive their instructions if they know where they’ll be on 10 August. They don’t have to wait until Census night.

There are two new questions in the 2021 Census—the first changes to questions collected since 2006. The new questions are on long-term health conditions, such as arthritis and diabetes, and on defence force participation.

Media notes

  • Georgia Chapman, Director 2021 Census Inclusive Strategies is available for interview. For media requests and interviews, contact the ABS Media Team on media@abs.gov.au or 1300 175 070.

  • Subscribe to the media release notification service to be notified of ABS media releases or publications upon their release.

  • Census of Population and Housing: Estimating Homelessness can be found on the ABS website.

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