In March 2011 the ABS published the Discussion Paper: Methodological Review of Counting the Homeless, 2006 (ABS cat. no. 2050.0.55.001). That paper noted the importance of the issue of homelessness for society and governments, and the need for quality data for decision making purposes, particularly for measuring change over time. In that context, the Discussion Paper described a methodology that had been previously used, and proposed a range of methodological changes that would be needed before consistent, transparent and repeatable official estimates could be made of the number of people enumerated in the Census who were likely to have been homeless on Census night.
The March 2011 Discussion Paper also outlined a process of consultation on the findings, to inform a final methodology to be published by end July 2011. The subsequent consultation on the review findings has confirmed the Discussion Paper's position on the significance of the areas of likely underestimation of homelessness in relation to youth, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and people escaping domestic and family violence. However, no alternative estimation methods have yet been developed to address the issues of underestimation for homelessness in these groups.
This ABS Position Paper:
- summarises the range of key issues identified so far in consultation (from public and private consultation sessions and written submissions received);
- addresses, as far as is currently possible, the issues raised in consultation;
- reiterates and further articulates the concerns expressed in the Discussion Paper about underestimation of key groups of homeless people;
- notes the establishment of a Homelessness Statistics Reference Group; and
- describes future developments in homelessness estimation, including but not limited to a proposed quality study about homeless school students.
Guided by the new Homelessness Statistics Reference Group, the ABS will continue to undertake research and development to inform the final methodology that will be used to report on homelessness from the 2011 Census. A new methodology will be published in May 2012 and will include the recompilation of consistent estimates from both the 2001 and 2006 Censuses.
This edition of the Position Paper includes additional analysis undertaken on the range of key issues identified in the Paper.
In the Acknowledgements section of this paper the effort and contribution of the wide range of stakeholders who participated in the consultation on the Discussion Paper has been noted. The ABS particularly acknowledges the contributions from homelessness services organisations and their staff.