Vinnies CEO Sleepout highlights importance of homelessness count in 2021 Census: Australia

Dr David Gruen, Australian Statistician, and his daughter Emma, are participating in the Vinnies CEO Sleepout, enduring a cold Canberra night at the National Arboretum. The Sleepout raises money to provide food and accommodation for people experiencing homelessness or who are at risk of homelessness.

“I’m proud to participate in the Vinnies CEO Sleepout for the fourth time. It’s my opportunity to help get Australians talking about homelessness and raise awareness of the experiences of some of the most vulnerable people in our community,” Dr Gruen said.

Data from the 2016 Census showed 1 in 200 people in Australia are experiencing homelessness, or around 116,400 people across the country. On Census night, 8,200 people were estimated to be ‘sleeping rough’ in improvised dwellings, tents or sleeping out, up from 6,810 people in 2011.

As the only national estimate of the prevalence of homelessness, Census data is used by organisations like Vinnies to inform services for individuals and families at risk of or experiencing homelessness.

“We want to make sure that every person in Australia on Census night is counted, including people experiencing homelessness,” Dr Gruen said.

“We know that homelessness comes in many forms, from overcrowding and couch surfing to living in emergency supported accommodation or sleeping rough.

“Knowing how many people are experiencing all forms of homelessness means organisations can make informed decisions for their local communities,” Dr Gruen concluded.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) works closely with homeless service and accommodation providers to ensure everyone is counted in the Census. Census field staff will also visit areas where people are known to sleep rough and assist them to complete the Census during Census week.

Mr Barnie van Wyk, Chief Executive Officer of Vinnies in Canberra/Goulburn said, “In a first world country such as Australia homelessness shouldn’t be a crisis, but it is a stark reality for many. We are grateful to the ABS for their expertise and attention in ensuring these vulnerable populations are represented. Census statistics give us an important understanding of how prevalent homelessness is in our community and enable us to plan, advocate for and support those experiencing disadvantage in our region in the best possible way.”

“I’m grateful that Dr Gruen and many CEOs and business leaders are taking part in this sleepout. Together we all form a safety net for the most vulnerable in our society and change lives,” Mr van Wyk concluded.

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