Australian Bureau of Statistics

Rate the ABS website
ABS Home > Statistics > By Catalogue Number
ABS @ Facebook ABS @ Twitter ABS RSS ABS Email notification service
2049.0 - Census of Population and Housing: Estimating homelessness, 2011  
Latest ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 12/11/2012   
   Page tools: Print Print Page Print all pages in this productPrint All RSS Feed RSS Bookmark and Share Search this Product

APPENDIX 1 DEFINITION OF HOMELESSNESS


OVERVIEW OF THE DEFINITION OF HOMELESSNESS

The ABS definition of homelessness is informed by an understanding of homelessness as 'home'lessness, not rooflessness. It emphasises the core elements of 'home' in Anglo American and European interpretations of the meaning of home as identified in research evidence (Mallett, 2004). These elements may include a sense of security, stability, privacy, safety and the ability to control living space. Homelessness is therefore a lack of one or more of the elements that represent 'home'.

In brief, the ABS statistical definition is that:

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.

The definition has been constructed from a conceptual framework centred around the following elements:
  • Adequacy of the dwelling,
  • Security of tenure in the dwelling, and
  • Control of, and access to space for social relations.

The elements are explained in more detail in ABS Information Paper - A Statistical Definition of Homelessness (cat. no. 4922.0).

People must lack one or more of these elements to be defined as homeless. However, people who lack one or more of these elements are not necessarily classified as homeless. While homelessness is not a choice, some people may chose to live in situations that might parallel the living situations of people who are homeless. For example, people may be living in a shed while building a home on their own property, or on holiday travelling and staying with friends. These people have choice because they have the capacity to access other accommodation that is safe, adequate and provides for social relations. Having access to accommodation alternatives is contingent on having the financial, physical, psychological and personal means to access these alternatives (see ABS Information Paper - A Statistical Definition of Homelessness (cat. no. 4922.0).


HOW THE DEFINITION OF HOMELESSNESS INFORMS THE METHODOLOGY FOR ESTIMATING HOMELESSNESS FROM THE CENSUS

The ABS Information Paper - A Statistical Definition of Homelessness (cat. no. 4922.0) outlines which elements of the statistical definition are used in determining homeless living situations in each of the homeless operational groups.

The hierarchy below briefly outlines which elements of the definition are employed to determine the group as being homeless.


REFERENCES

Mallett, S (2004) 'Understanding Home: A Critical Review of the Literature', The Sociological Review, 52 (1), 62-89.

Diagram: REFERENCES


Bookmark and Share. Opens in a new window

Commonwealth of Australia 2014

Unless otherwise noted, content on this website is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 Australia Licence together with any terms, conditions and exclusions as set out in the website Copyright notice. For permission to do anything beyond the scope of this licence and copyright terms contact us.