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Media release –

ABS staff sleep rough to highlight importance of Census homelessness count

23 June 2016 | CO/92

Tonight, 13 Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) staff will be sleeping rough in the Vinnies CEO Sleepout, and experiencing what has become the grim reality for thousands of Australians every single night.

Head of the Census Program, Duncan Young, said Census data provides Australia’s only definitive national measure of homelessness, which helps form policy and allocates funding to provide critical frontline services such as housing, healthcare, education and special assistance programs.

“For more than 10years, I have had the pleasure of working with the St Vincent de Paul Society through their youth camps, prisons, humanitarian settlements, men’s shelters and soup van for the homeless,” Mr Young said.

“Accurate Census data can have a powerful impact on people’s lives, which is why it’s so important people sleeping rough have a voice and are counted in this year’s Census.

“In 2011, Census data showed about 105,000 people experienced homelessness Census night. If you are living in hostels, refuges, staying in temporary accommodation with family or friends, or sleeping rough on the streets, the ABS will ensure you are counted in this year’s Census on August 9.

“When filling in a Census form, these people should write ‘None’ in the ‘Suburb’ part of the question ‘Where does the person usually live?’ regardless of where they are staying on Census night,” Mr Young said.

New South Wales St Vincent de Paul Society Acting CEO, Dianne Lucas, said over the past five years, the demand on the homelessness sector has increased at double the rate of Australia’s population growth.

“Census data allows us to plan for our services and anticipate trends in homelessness sector that require action and urgent support,” Ms Lucas said.

“The number of older women renting in the private rental market is increasing – from 91,549 in the 2006 Census to 135,174 in 2011 – and as this becomes less affordable we expect a rise in older women facing homelessness. It is important we work together to ensure we get an accurate count this Census.”

The ABS works closely with homeless services providers and organisations to locate boarding houses, refuges and hostels and count the number of people staying in them on Census night.

“Homeless service providers can help the ABS by encouraging people using their services to take part in the Census, and promoting the importance of capturing an accurate snapshot of people experiencing homelessness in Australia”, Mr Young said.

The Vinnies CEO Sleepout aims to raise $6 million dollars nation-wide to continue supporting over 100,000 people who experience homelessness every single night. Duncan Young is participating in the Sydney CEO Sleepout at Carriageworks tonight. Donate now to the 2016 Vinnes CEO Sleepout to show your support.

Background information on the 2016 Census of Population and Housing

The 2016 Census of Population and Housing aims to count 10 million dwellings and approximately 24 million people in Australia on Tuesday 9 August to help shape Australia’s future.

Data from the 2011 Census showed out of the total number of people experiencing homelessness on Census night 17,845 were under the age of 12 and only 6 per cent of all homelessness persons slept rough or in improvised dwellings.

Data also revealed the rate of homelessness was 49 persons for every 10,000 persons, which is up 8 per cent from 45 persons in 2006. The highest rate of homelessness was recorded in the Northern Territory (731 per 10,000 persons) and the lowest in Tasmania (32 per 10,000 persons).

Most of the increase in homelessness between 2006 and 2011 resulted from the rise in the number of people living in severely crowded dwellings, which has increased from 31,531 in 2006 to 41,390 in 2011.

For further information on the 2016 Census, visit www.census.abs.gov.au

Key 2016 Census dates:

Late July to early Aug 2016Instruction letters and forms will be delivered
9 August 2016Census night
Mid Aug to late Sept 2016Field visits
First half of 2017The first results from the 2016 Census released

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