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The number of Australians receiving support from homelessness services rose in 2013-14, with more assistance provided to people who risk falling into homelessness due to domestic and family violence and housing crisis, according to a report released today by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW).

The report, Specialist homelessness services: 2013-14, shows about 254,000 Australians accessed specialist homelessness services in 2013-14-an increase of 4% from the previous year.

One third of all clients-an estimated 84,774 adults and children-received assistance as a result of experiencing family or domestic violence.

'This was an increase of 9% from 2012-13, including an increase of 14% in the number of children being assisted due to family or domestic violence,' said AIHW spokesperson Geoff Neideck.

Over the period, there was also a rise in the number of clients who received help to maintain their housing, with 32% of clients identified as needing assistance to sustain tenancy or prevent tenancy failure or eviction-up from 28% in 2011-12.

The proportion of clients identifying 'housing crisis' as the main reason for seeking assistance also increased from 13% in 2011-12 to 16% in 2013-14.

'Among the states and territories, Victoria recorded the largest increase in clients. Small increases were recorded for Queensland, South Australia, Tasmania and the Northern Territory and the other jurisdictions remained at similar levels to the previous year,' Mr Neideck said. 'Fluctuations in client numbers from year to year largely reflect resourcing and program targeting priorities change '.

Victoria accounted for 76% of the national increase in clients. Of new clients in Victoria, most were seeking assistance for domestic and family violence, reflecting added capacity to assist people who were homeless or at risk of homelessness for this reason. 

For the first time, the report includes information on specialist homelessness services clients who had a long term health condition or disability that restricted their everyday activities.

In 2013-14, an estimated 26,655 clients with a long term health condition or disability sought assistance from a specialist homelessness agency. 

'This new data provides an added dimension in understanding the complexity of homelessness in Australia,' Mr Neideck said. 

The AIHW is a major national agency set up by the Australian Government to provide reliable, regular and relevant information and statistics on Australia's health and welfare.

Canberra, 15 December 2014

Further information: Geoff Neideck, AIHW, tel. (02) 6244 1163, mob. 0439 878 933

Full publication: Specialist homelessness services: 2013-14