In September 2012, after a significant period of consultation, the ABS released a statistical definition of homelessness.
Broadly, under the ABS definition, 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 ABS definition of homelessness has been developed for application to the general population in Australia. While Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are over-represented in estimates of homelessness, there are likely to be additional aspects to homelessness from an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander perspective that the definition does not adequately capture.
In recognition of the differences in understanding concepts of home and homelessness, the ABS is undertaking further engagement to inform estimation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander homelessness. The outcomes of consultation will inform statistical collections, including the development of a culturally appropriate module on previous experiences of homelessness in the ABS 2014 National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Survey (NATSISS).
This discussion paper outlines some of the key themes identified through engagement that has taken place with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and service providers from March to June 2013, and provides a basis for further stakeholder consultation. Detailed information on the engagement to date, including the discussion guide can be found in Appendix 1, in the Explanatory Notes of this publication. The next step in the consultation process includes calling for written submissions from interested parties, as well as undertaking further community based face to face engagement, with the final Information Paper to be released in late 2013.