On September 11, the Australian Bureau of Statistics issued revised estimates of the levels of homelessness based on 2001 and 2006 census data: 95,314 homeless people in Australia in 2001, and 89,728 homeless people in Australia in 2006. The ABS has stated that the decline in the number of people living in boarding houses drove the overall decline in homelessness between 2001 and 2006. The ABS has stated the some key population groups — young people, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, and people fleeing domestic and/or family violence — are underestimated in estimates of homelessness using census data. The estimates of homelessness based on the 2011 census data will be released in November 2012. See the ABS report on estimating homelessness for 2001 and 2006.
On August 30, the Housing Supply and Affordability Reform Working Party released a report on strategies to stimulate housing supply — covering issues such as land supply, infrastructure cost recovery, and land-use planning and approval processes. The report acknowledged, however, that reducing barriers to housing supply will not necessarily reduce the housing affordability problems faced by households on lower incomes. Regarding the First Home Owner Grant, the report noted that in its current form and in a supply-constrained environment, the grant ‘may not be the most cost-effective way of improving housing supply and affordability in the longer term’; it recommended that ‘consideration [be] given to better targeting the grant or even phasing out the grant completely’. The Council of Australian Governments agreed to the report’s recommendations out-of-session in July 2012. Read the Housing supply and affordability reform report.
On September 4, the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) released a report on their statistical definition of homelessness. This report states that a person is considered homeless if they do not have suitable accommodation alternatives, and 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 new definition has been developed following a review of the ‘cultural definition of homelessness’ which was formulated by Chris Chamberlain and David MacKenzie, and applied in their Counting the homeless reports based on Census of Population and Housing data from 2001 and 2006. Read the ABS report on the statistical definition of homelessness.
New Commonwealth funding is available to help older people who are homeless or at risk of homelessness in outer regional, remote and very remote areas of Australia. Applications for funding under the Assistance with Care and Housing for the Aged Program (ACHA) close on September 21. The ACHA program supports older people who are homeless or at risk of homelessness, through linking them with housing and care services. Read about the ACHA grants.
On August 6, the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare released the 2010 state and territory results from the ‘National social housing survey’. The report states that 79% of community housing tenants were satisfied with the services provided by their housing provider, and 73% of public housing tenants were so satisfied. Read the report.