Successfully reported this slideshow.
We use your LinkedIn profile and activity data to personalize ads and to show you more relevant ads. You can change your ad preferences anytime.

EYHC 2011: Don't Count Me Out


Published on

(Fairness) This presentation was facilitated by Travis Gilbert from Homelessness Australia.

Counting the homeless has recently become a contested issue among advocates and practitioners for youth homelessness. In this presentation Travis aims to unpack some of the politics around counting and emphasise why getting the methods and use of counting right is crucial to ending youth homelessness.

Published in: Education
  • Be the first to comment

  • Be the first to like this

EYHC 2011: Don't Count Me Out

  1. 1. <ul><li>Don’t Count Me Out: Exploring challenges and issues related to counting people experiencing homelessness on Census night and over time. </li></ul>
  2. 2. <ul><li>What the ABS initially said... </li></ul><ul><li>“ ...There is widespread agreement that the numbers reported in Counting the Homeless are indicative rather than necessarily being entirely appropriate for performance indicator construction and may well overestimate the count of homeless people in Australia in general and that of homeless youth in particular...” </li></ul>
  3. 3. <ul><li>Homelessness Australia’s response </li></ul><ul><li>We strongly disagree with that assertion. </li></ul><ul><li>We still have not been told where the ABS obtained “widespread agreement” about the Counting the Homeless figures representing a significant over-count. </li></ul><ul><li>We cited a number of examples of people experiencing homelessness who would not be counted in the Census. </li></ul>
  4. 4. <ul><li>Examples of undercounting </li></ul><ul><li>1.) Young people couch surfing. </li></ul><ul><li>2.) Young people staying in concealed ‘squats’. </li></ul><ul><li>3.) Women escaping domestic and family violence who are turned away from refuges. </li></ul><ul><li>4.) Indigenous people in overcrowded dwellings. </li></ul>
  5. 5. <ul><li>Examples of undercounting (cont...) </li></ul><ul><li>5.) People staying in the ‘long-grass’ in the Kimberley and Darwin/Daly and in national parks in rural areas. </li></ul><ul><li>6.) People staying in public housing but not on the lease. </li></ul><ul><li>7.) People staying in hotels/motels paid for with brokerage. </li></ul><ul><li>8.) Indigenous people sleeping rough “on country”. </li></ul>
  6. 6. <ul><li>Counting the Homeless vs. the ABS Review </li></ul><ul><li>Why review the numbers? (White Paper/COAG) </li></ul><ul><li>Counting the Homeless estimates are higher. </li></ul><ul><li>Counting the Homeless youth estimates are much higher. </li></ul><ul><li>There are significant differences between gender balance and location on Census night. </li></ul><ul><li>Review estimate at odds with practitioners views. </li></ul>
  7. 7. <ul><li>Importance of an accurate count </li></ul><ul><li>2011 is the first Census since the White Paper. </li></ul><ul><li>We need to know how we’re tracking towards the 2013 target of reducing homelessness by 20%. </li></ul><ul><li>We need to know how we’re tracking towards the 2020 headline goal of halving homelessness. </li></ul><ul><li>For policy, planning and service delivery purposes. </li></ul><ul><li>It helps our understanding of trends and necessary responses to different groups. </li></ul>
  8. 8. <ul><li>HA Members have told us... </li></ul><ul><li>That they believe the review is politically motivated. </li></ul><ul><li>That they believe the review was instigated with a directive to reduce the homelessness figure. </li></ul><ul><li>They will be reluctant to assist the ABS with future Census counts if they don’t trust the homelessness numbers that result from them. </li></ul>
  9. 9. CTH estimates vs. ABS Review estimates Category 2006 CTH est. ABS Review estimate Difference (n) Difference (%) Boarding Houses 21 596 16 828 -4 768 -22.1 SAAP 19 849 17 331 -2 518 -12.7 Friends/Relatives 46 856 19 579 -27 277 -58.1 Primary H/less 16 375 7 764 - 8 611 -52.5 Persons in other temporary lodgings N/A 1 970 +1 970 +/- Total: 104 676 63 472 -41 204 -39.3
  10. 10. <ul><li>Counting the Homeless </li></ul><ul><li>ABS Review estimate </li></ul>Age Group Number 0-12 12 133 12-18 21 940 19-24 10 504 25-34 15 804 35-44 13 981 45-54 12 206 55-64 10 708 65+ 7 400 Total: 104,676 Number Change (n) Change (%) 7 552 -4 581 -37.7 5 424 -16 517 -75.3 7 992 -2 512 -23.9 11 893 -3 911 -24.7 10 600 -3 381 -24.2 8 757 -3 449 -28.2 6 332 -4 376 -40.8 4 920 -2 480 -33.8 63 472 -41 204 -39.3
  11. 11. <ul><li>Key points </li></ul><ul><li>Dramatic reduction in overall figure. </li></ul><ul><li>40% reduction needs to be fully explained. </li></ul><ul><li>Friends/relatives figure most concerning. </li></ul><ul><li>Significant implications for young people. </li></ul><ul><li>Distinction between rough sleeping and improvised dwellings is helpful. </li></ul>
  12. 12. <ul><li>Reduction in youth count </li></ul><ul><li>Review estimate drops the number of young people aged 12-18 exp. Homelessness on Census night from 21,940 to 5,423. </li></ul><ul><li>This is a massive reduction of 75.3%. </li></ul><ul><li>This has huge implications for our understanding of youth homelessness. </li></ul><ul><li>Review also changes the balance of where ABS believes young people are staying on Census night. </li></ul>
  13. 13. <ul><li>Where the ABS reckon young people (12-18) were staying on Census night </li></ul>Operational Group Total (n) Total (%) Primary Homelessness 631 12 SAAP 2731 50 Friends/Relatives 1055 19 Boarding Houses 902 17 Other Temporary Lodging 115 2 Total: 5424 100
  14. 14. <ul><li>Concerns with this breakdown </li></ul><ul><li>The ABS review estimate puts as many young people in boarding houses as are couch surfing. </li></ul><ul><li>This does not accord with academic research. </li></ul><ul><li>This does not accord with what practitioners tell us. </li></ul>
  15. 15. <ul><li>Gender Balance </li></ul><ul><li>The gender balance of people found to be experiencing homelessness on Census night from 56% male 44% female in Counting the Homeless to 61% male 39% female in the review estimate. </li></ul><ul><li>This has implications for the community’s understanding of homelessness and stereotyping. </li></ul>
  16. 16. <ul><li>Difficulties capturing young people </li></ul><ul><li>Do not readily identify as experiencing homelessness </li></ul><ul><li>May be staying with friend/relative who doesn’t identify the young person as homeless </li></ul><ul><li>ABS reckons majority of young people counted as homeless by C & M are “sleeping over” on a Tuesday night in August </li></ul>
  17. 17. <ul><li>Difficulties capturing young people </li></ul><ul><li>If I left a Census form outside a squat and knocked on the door, how many occupants would fill it in? </li></ul><ul><li>Census question regarding “usual address” is ambiguous </li></ul><ul><li>Accommodation often tenuous and unsafe </li></ul>
  18. 18. <ul><li>The need to adjust for undercounting </li></ul><ul><li>Given these difficulties, there is a need to adjust for undercounting. </li></ul><ul><li>The size of the adjustment and the methodology employed to do so are key sticking points for sector and ABS. </li></ul><ul><li>Homelessness Statistics Reference Group is progressing some of these issues. </li></ul>
  19. 19. <ul><li>National Census of Homeless Secondary School Students </li></ul><ul><li>Chamberlain and Mackenzie contacted all 2,025 Govt and Catholic secondary schools across Australia in 2006. </li></ul><ul><li>99% completed a Census return. </li></ul><ul><li>Welfare workers and Principals identified 7,035 students they believed were experiencing homelessness. </li></ul>
  20. 20. <ul><li>National Census of Homeless Secondary School Students (cont…) </li></ul><ul><li>Figure of 7,035 students was compared with SAAP data indicating proportion of young people in SAAP enrolled in education. </li></ul><ul><li>In 2006 this was 32.1% nationally. </li></ul><ul><li>This enabled C & M to arrive at figure of 21,940 12-18 year olds counted as homeless on Census night after adjusting for undercounting (+20.5%). </li></ul>
  21. 21. <ul><li>The view from the ABS... </li></ul><ul><li>That the NCHSSS does not capture the number of secondary school students homeless at a point in time </li></ul><ul><li>That the methodology is too vague to meet validity, reliability and replicability tests. </li></ul><ul><li>That the questions are ambiguous. </li></ul>
  22. 22. <ul><li>What we said... </li></ul><ul><li>The Census of secondary school students is a critical component of the youth homelessness estimate. </li></ul><ul><li>That the Census night figures alone will never capture the totality of youth homelessness on Census night. </li></ul><ul><li>That the ABS MUST develop an alternative proposal to estimate homelessness amongst high school students. </li></ul>
  23. 23. <ul><li>Current ABS Proposals </li></ul><ul><li>A “homeless youth quality study test” involving up to 6 schools all of which are in Sydney. </li></ul><ul><li>Aim of this is to test whether a larger quality study is feasible. </li></ul><ul><li>ABS plan involves directly interviewing students themselves. </li></ul><ul><li>Questionnaire is very lengthy. </li></ul>
  24. 24. <ul><li>Current ABS proposals (cont...) </li></ul><ul><li>If the quality study is deemed to be successful: </li></ul><ul><li>The ABS will conduct a survey in a random sample of 400 schools (Govt, Catholic and Indie). </li></ul><ul><li>The number of students to be interviewed is unknown. </li></ul><ul><li>Depends on information “furnished” from schools*. </li></ul><ul><li>Details about accommodation will only be included in future Censuses in 2016 and beyond... </li></ul>
  25. 25. <ul><li>Implications for the sector </li></ul><ul><li>Currently 34% of specialist homelessness services are funded to support young people. </li></ul><ul><li>They supported 41,000 people aged 15-20 in 2009/10. </li></ul><ul><li>Census data is a core predictor of funding for social and community services. </li></ul>
  26. 26. <ul><li>Implications for the sector </li></ul><ul><li>New funding was based on the figure of 104,676 people. </li></ul><ul><li>If there are allegedly 41,000 fewer it will make FaHCSIA’s job of securing extra funding for the next NAHA and NPAH significantly more difficult. </li></ul><ul><li>There are indications that some jurisdictions are “buying” the new estimates. </li></ul>
  27. 27. <ul><li>Implications for the sector </li></ul><ul><li>If youth homelessness is not viewed as a significant problem then States and Territories may shift funding elsewhere. </li></ul><ul><li>A recent opinion piece for The Australian accused the homelessness sector of lobbying to inflate homelessness numbers for our own personal gain. </li></ul><ul><li>This is deeply offensive. </li></ul>
  28. 28. <ul><li>Implications for the sector </li></ul><ul><li>The long term consensus that has existed between academics, Government and the community sector could be shattered. </li></ul><ul><li>The differences in the youth figure and the gender balance play in to stereotypes about the face of homelessness in Australia. </li></ul><ul><li>We risk failing a generation of vulnerable young people. </li></ul>
  29. 29. <ul><li>What HA is doing </li></ul><ul><li>Participating in the Homelessness Statistics Reference Group. </li></ul><ul><li>Seeking on-going advice from our members. </li></ul><ul><li>Providing on-going advice to the Minister, other MPs and Senators. </li></ul>
  30. 30. <ul><li>HA’s on-going concerns </li></ul><ul><li>Young people, women escaping D & FV and Indigenous people are in our view woefully underrepresented in the review estimates. </li></ul><ul><li>We need to ensure that the sector’s views are respected and accounted for. </li></ul><ul><li>The definition may be narrowed. </li></ul>
  31. 31. <ul><li>What other research tells us... </li></ul><ul><li>Young people constitute a high proportion of the overall number of people experiencing homelessness both in Australia and in other OECD countries. </li></ul><ul><li>Housing affordability has been getting worse over the past decade and poverty remains relatively unchanged. </li></ul><ul><li>The Census cannot provide a complete picture. </li></ul>
  32. 32. <ul><li>Discussion </li></ul><ul><li>What else should HA be doing to progress the development of the development of a methodology that can provide us with an accurate estimate of the totality of homelessness in Australia? </li></ul>