Redefining Homelessness

ImageThe Australian Bureau of Statistics has changed its definition for homelessness, reducing the number of recorded homeless people in Australia by over 15,000.

The ABS review showed the statistics had been adjusted from about 105,000 to 90,000.
Instead of categorising homeless people into primary, secondary or tertiary homelessness, the new definition is focused on adequacy, security and control over the dwelling, the ABS review explained.

Policy and Research Officer at Homelessness Australia Travis Gilbert said in a phone interview that “it’s a broader definition in many ways”.

“It goes into concepts of home rather than the type of housing,” Mr Gilbert said.
The new definition will also be applied to the 2011 Census figures scheduled to be released later this year.

Minister for Housing and Homelessness Brendan O’Connor said in a media release that the “Gillard government remains committed to halving the rate of homelessness by 2020”.

“By applying the new definition to all three sets of Census data, we can make an accurate prediction about how far we’ve come,” Mr O’Connor said.

Although the federal government remains dedicated to reducing homelessness, Mr Gilbert said states including Queensland “are reluctant to refund a national partnership agreement on homelessness”.

“If a couple of states don’t come on board, it’ll be a much smaller agreement if it’s refunded at all,” he said.

The ABS review also showed Queensland had the second highest rate of homelessness in the country.

Manager of the Pindari Men’s Shelter Bruce Pratt said he had not noticed a decline in the number of homeless people in Brisbane.

“We get a lot of people coming through,” he said.

The Pindari Men’s Shelter in Spring Hill (pictured) is a 90 bed hostel where those in critical need of housing can take shelter for up to three months.

“We just support the guys who come through the front door, with basic needs to reestablish themselves,” Major Pratt said.