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Homelessness: Homelessness estimates - main source of income by operational group

Homelessness estimates - main source of income by operational group

The Census of Population and Housing conducted by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) presents estimates of the prevalence of homelessness, and the characteristics and living arrangements of those experiencing homelessness.

The Census aims to enumerate all persons in Australia on Census night. The Census is conducted every five years. In accordance with the ABS statistical definition, when a person does not have suitable accommodation alternatives, they are considered to be experiencing homelessness if their current living arrangement is in a dwelling that is inadequate; has no tenure, or their initial tenure is short and not extendable; or does not allow them to have control of, and access to space for social relations.

New sources of administrative data were used for the first time in the 2021 Census. Income data from the Multi-Agency Data Integration Project (MADIP), including from the Australian Taxation Office and the Department of Social Services, were linked to Census data to provide extra information on main source of income, and main type of government benefit payment. For more information on how Census data were linked to administrative data, see (How administrative data improved the quality of the 2021 Census). Main income source indicates the main source of personal income that a person received, based on all income recorded in the administrative dataset for 2020–21. Note that main source of income includes ‘Admin not available’ comprising persons who were not able to be linked to MADIP and therefore did not have administrative income information available; and ‘Not applicable’ comprising persons aged under 15 years of age.

The Census was held on 10 August 2021, when states and territories in Australia were under varied COVID-19 pandemic related restrictions. Measures to help reduce the spread of COVID-19 included: restrictions to international travel and migration; border control measures for some states and territories; stay at home orders; limits on gatherings; and social distancing rules. A number of state and territory governments also worked with service providers to give temporary accommodation to people sleeping rough – or in crisis situations – to protect them, and the community, from the virus. The homelessness estimates presented reflect the unique accommodation circumstances of those experiencing homelessness at the time of the Census. For more information on state and territory government responses to the pandemic and how Census data was collected during the pandemic, see (

Census homelessness estimates linked administrative data can be accessed through TableBuilder where users can obtain most Census data in a range of topic-based data cubes. For more information on how to access data via TableBuilder, see (

Census data on the characteristics, geographical distribution and living arrangements of those likely to be homeless or marginally housed are also used in the following dashboard menu options: Homeless estimates - personal characteristicsHomeless estimates - Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander personsHomeless estimates -personal characteristics by operational groupsHomeless estimates - geography and People in other marginal housing.

See ABS Census of Population and Housing: Estimating homelessness ( for further information, including in-depth commentary and analysis, in particular the source data Quality Declaration.

Source table reference, from TableBuilder: Dataset, 2021 Census - counting persons, estimating homelessness, STATE (EN), OPGP Homelessness Operational Groups, ISAP Main Source of Personal Income (administrative data), and IGAP Main Type of Personal Government Benefit Payment (administrative data).