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Young women aged 15-19 were the group most likely to receive support from a specialist homelessness agency in 2008-09, with one in every 50 females in this age bracket accessing support, according to a report released today by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW).

Housing and Homelessness Group Head Geoff Neideck said 'Children also had a high rate of use, with one in 63 children overall and one in every 39 children four years and younger accompanying a parent or guardian to an agency'.

The report, Government funded specialist homelessness services: SAAP National Data Collection annual report 2008-09, shows that one in every 105 Australians, or 204,900 people (125,800 clients and 79,100 accompanying children) and one in every 122 females aged 10 years and over received support from a specialist homelessness agency in 2008-09.

Some significant changes have occurred in the administration of homelessness services by Australian governments since the Supported Accommodation Assistance Program was replaced by the National Affordable Housing Agreement on 1 January 2009. Many of the previous SAAP services continued under the new agreement and a few new or modified services were introduced in the second half of 2008-09. However, caution should be used in comparing 2008-09 results with previous years.

'The reasons people sought assistance varied depending on age and sex, but interpersonal relationship issues were the most common broad reason clients gave for seeking assistance,' said Mr Neideck.

In 2008-09 young men and women, aged under 25 years, usually sought support because of relationship issues.

Women aged 25 years and over and women with children also frequently sought support because of relationship issues, particularly domestic or family violence issues.

Men aged 25 years and over commonly sought support because of drug, alcohol and substance use.

For couples (both with and without children) and men with children, lack of accommodation, eviction in particular, was a common reason for seeking assistance.

The 2008-09 report showed that overall, agencies were able to directly meet the needs of clients and accompanying children in the majority of cases.

Basic support, such as meals and shower facilities, were the most likely type of support to be provided directly by the agency, while specialist services, such as physical or intellectual disability services, were more likely to be referred on.

Friday 30 April 2010

Further information: Mr Geoff Neideck, AIHW, tel. 02 6244 1163, mob. 04 3987 8933

For media copies of the report: Publications Officer, AIHW, tel. (02) 6244 1032.

Government-funded specialist homelessness services SAAP National Data Collection annual report 2008-09 Australia

(Report summary)(Full report)