MLCF defines homelessness according to the current Australian Bureau of Statistics definition (ABS Definition of Homelessness):
When a person does not have suitable accommodation alternatives they are considered homeless if their current living arrangement:
- is in a dwelling that is inadequate; or
- has no tenure, or if their initial tenure is short and not extendable; or
- does not allow them to have control of, and access to space for social relations.
The ABS definition of homelessness is informed by an understanding of homelessness as ‘home’lessness, not rooflessness. It emphasises the core elements of ‘home’ in Anglo American and European interpretations of the meaning of home as identified in research evidence (Mallett, 2004). These elements may include: a sense of security, stability, privacy, safety, and the ability to control living space. Homelessness is therefore a lack of one or more of the elements that represent ‘home’.
The definition has been constructed from a conceptual framework centred around the following elements:
- Adequacy of the dwelling;
- Security of tenure in the dwelling; and
- Control of, and access to space for social relations.
Many of our patrons have access to a roof, but not access to a home. Only around 10% of our regular patrons are true rough sleepers. The rest comprises of transient sleepers i.e. sleeping on trains, in cars, moving between emergency/short term accommodation; couch surfers; and in overcrowded dwellings etc. These people are just as ‘homeless’ as those who camp in the bush, or sleep in bus stops or under shop awnings. They require assistance in all forms, and have the same fears and concerns as the rough sleeping community.
A roof does not make a home.