The ABS statistical definition states that 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 'roof'lessness. 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.
Mackenzie and Chamberlain’s cultural definition of homelessness
Mackenzie and Chamberlain's (1992) definition includes three categories in recognition of the diversity of homelessness:
• Primary homelessness is experienced by people without conventional accommodation (e.g. sleeping rough or in improvised dwellings);
• Secondary homelessness is experienced by people who frequently move from one temporary shelter to another (e.g. emergency accommodation, youth refuges, "couch surfing");
• Tertiary homelessness is experienced by people staying in accommodation that falls below minimum community standards (e.g.…