Counting the homeless

More than 116,000 people in Australia were classified as homeless on Census night 2016.

This represents an increase of 4.6 per cent (11,000 people) since the 2011 Census, according to newly released estimates from the 2016 Census of Population and Housing.

General Manager of Population and Social Statistics, Dr Paul Jeffs, said the definition of homelessness incorporated various distinct groups.

People living in severely crowded dwellings, defined as requiring four or more extra bedrooms to accommodate the people who usually live there, were defined as being homeless. "This group accounted for 51,088 people, up from 41,370 in 2011," Dr Jeffs said.

"On Census night 8,200 people were estimated to be sleeping rough in improvised dwellings, tents, or sleeping out – an increase from 3.2 persons per 10,000 people in 2011 to 3.5 persons per 10,000 people in 2016," he said.

One quarter of all homeless people in 2016 was aged between 20 and 30 years and homelessness among people aged between 65 and 74 increased to 27 persons per 10,000, up from 25 per 10,000 in 2011.

Recent migrants accounted for 15 per cent of the homeless. Almost three-quarters of these were living in severely crowded dwellings. The majority came from South-East Asia and Southern and Central Asia, including India, China and Afghanistan.

There were 23,437 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people classified as homeless in 2016. More than three-quarters were living in severely crowded dwellings and less than 10 per cent were sleeping rough.