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Over one-third of adults and children seeking help from specialist homelessness services in Australia did so for domestic and family violence reasons, according to a new report released today by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW).

The report, Domestic and family violence and homelessness 201112 to 2013–14, is the first of its kind to examine multiple years of homelessness data.

The report shows that around 520,000 Australians accessed homelessness services over the three years to 2013–14, with 187,000 (36%) being adults and children seeking assistance due to domestic and family violence.

‘Domestic and family violence cause considerable disruption to the lives of Australian families, with many affected seeking alternative accommodation; this puts them at an increased risk of falling into homelessness’, said AIHW spokesperson Mr Tim Beard.

The report found that nearly half (48%) of domestic and family violence clients were assessed as homeless when first seeking assistance.

The clear majority of adult clients who sought assistance because of domestic and family violence were women. Over the 3 years examined, 110,000 women aged over 18 sought assistance, compared with 12,000 men. Over 45,000 of the client group were women with children, and nearly 24,000 were young women (aged 15–24) presenting alone.

‘Domestic and family violence makes women and children particularly vulnerable to homelessness, as leaving a violent situation sometimes means leaving the family home’, Mr Beard said.

Among homelessness services clients, those that have experienced family and domestic violence were more likely than other clients to request accommodation services. Where short-term accommodation was requested, family and domestic violence clients were more likely to have that request met than other clients (82% compared with 61%).

‘One of the greatest difficulties homelessness services face is in finding long-term housing solutions for clients. Only 9% of initial requests for long-term accommodation were able to be met for domestic and family violence clients’, Mr Beard said.

The report also revealed that Indigenous women experiencing domestic and family violence tended to access specialist homelessness services for longer periods than other groups. Almost 40% of this cohort received support services spanning more than 300 days, compared with about 25% of other domestic and family violence clients.

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, 3 February 2016

Further information: Tim Beard, AIHW, tel. (02) 6244 1270, mob. 0418 271 395

Web page: Domestic and family violence and homelessness 201112 to 201314.