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Media release –
South Australia

Counting people without a home in next week's Census

1 August 2011 | SA/36

The ABS today said special Collectors have been employed to ensure South Australians who are currently homeless are included in next week’s national Census on Tuesday 9 August.

ABS Regional Director Mike McGrath, speaking at the start of National Homeless Persons’ Week, said to achieve this, the South Australian Census team is working closely with the organisations which come into regular contact with people who are homeless.

“An accurate picture of the number of people who are homeless at the time of the Census in South Australia helps governments, private and community organisations plan for services and infrastructure needed in the future,” said Mr McGrath.

Locations where Adelaide’s ‘rough sleepers’ can be found will be visited during the week of Census by special Collectors, as will hostels and places where food distribution and healthcare services take place.

“We are grateful to service providers for their help with the Census; we all want the same outcome, an accurate Census and a good understanding of the number of people who are homeless in South Australia,” Mr McGrath said. In addition Mr McGrath says the Census includes homeless people who stay with friends or family for extended periods of time, but are unable to maintain their own home for a range of reasons.

“One question on the Census relates to your usual address, which is the address you have lived in for more than six of the past twelve months.

“This question is particularly relevant to young people”, according to Gerrie Mitra of Service to Youth Council Inc (SYC). “We want them to answer this question as ‘no usual address’”.

For the past 30 years SYC has operated the central referral and assessment service known as Trace-A-Place for young people experiencing homelessness in South Australia.

Ms Mitra says, “Young people don’t sleep rough, but they rely on informal support networks when their accommodation breaks down, staying with friends or family, couch surfing, before presenting to youth homelessness services for support. It’s these young people we’ll be encouraging to answer “no usual address” so we can get a clearer picture of the true extent of homelessness in our community.

More information is available online at www.abs.gov.au/census or by calling the Census Inquiry Service on 1300 338 776

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