The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) collects data on specific key groups of people who are considered to be marginally housed but are not classified as homeless. Persons living in other crowded dwellings other than severely crowded dwellings are considered a marginal housing group. These households are considered overcrowded as they are estimated to require three extra bedrooms according to the Canadian National Occupancy Standard (ABS 2016).
Nationally, nearly 19,000 children aged 0-14 years were recorded as living in other crowded dwellings in the 2016 ABS Census of Population and Housing, a national proportion of 0.4%. There were no differences in the rates of overcrowded living for boys and girls, or between younger children aged 0–4 years and older children aged 5–14 years (all 0.4%). Indigenous children were 4.5 times as likely to be living in an overcrowded situation than non-Indigenous children (1.8% compared to 0.4%). Children born overseas were more than twice as likely to be living in an overcrowded situation than children born in Australia (0.9% compared to 0.4%).
Children from households with multiple families were more likely to be living in an overcrowded situation (1.6%) than children of one-parent families (0.5%) and couple families (0.2%). More children were living in an overcrowded situation in Remote and very remote areas (2.4%) than in Outer regional areas (0.4%), Major cities (0.4%) and Inner regional (0.2%) areas. The proportion was 12 times as high in the lowest socioeconomic (SES) areas (1.2%) as in the highest SES areas (0.1%).
Has there been a change over time?
Nationally, there was a slight increase in the proportion of children living in an overcrowded situation, from 0.3% in 2006 to 0.4% in 2016. The same increase occurred in rates of overcrowding for boys, girls, younger children (0-4 years) and older children (5-14 years).
The proportion of Indigenous children living in an overcrowded situation decreased from 2.5% in 2006 to 1.8% in 2016, while there was a slight increase for non-Indigenous children (0.2% in 2006 to 0.4% in 2016). The rates of overcrowding have increased between 2006 and 2016 for children born in Australia (from 0.3% to 0.4%) and those born overseas from (0.8% to 0.9%).
The proportion of children in multiple family households who were living in an overcrowded situation has increased slightly from 1.4% in 2006 to 1.6% in 2016. Similarly, the proportion of children in one-parent families increased from 0.4% in 2006 to 0.5% in 2016, whilst the proportion for couple families has remained steady at 0.2% since 2006.
The proportion of children from Remote and very remote areas living in an overcrowded situation increased from 1.4% in 2006 to 2.4% in 2016, while the proportion of those living in Major cities and Outer regional areas only increased slightly from 0.3% to 0.4% from 2006 to 2016. The rate of children living in overcrowded situtations in Inner regional areas remained steady at 0.2% over the same period. The rate of overcrowding for children in the lowest SES areas increased from 0.9% to 1.2% between 2006 and 2016 while the rate in the highest SES areas remained stable at 0.1%.
According to ABS Census 2011 data, 18,000 children under 12 are homeless (ABS 2012). But data provided on 9,000 homeless young children aged 0-14 years.
According to ABS, there was under estimation of youth homeless (sometimes referred to as 12-18 years or 12-24 years) due to ‘usual address’ reporting. A usual address may be reported for 'couch surfers' either because the young person doesn't want to disclose to the people they are staying with that they are unable to go home, or the person who fills out the Census form on behalf of the young person staying with them assumes that the youth will return to their home (ABS 2012).
- ABS 2012. Fact Sheet: Youth Homelessness. 2049.0 - Census of Population and Housing: Estimating homelessness, 2011.
- ABS 2012. Factsheet: Overcrowding. 4922.0 – Information Paper – A Statistical Definition of Homelessness, 2012.
- ABS 2016. Explanatory notes. 2049.0 - Census of Population and Housing: Estimating homelessness, 2016.