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released: 18 Dec 2012 author: AIHW media release

In 2011-12, specialist homelessness services assisted almost 230,000 clients, representing 1 in 98 Australians. Of these clients, 56% were at risk of homelessness, 44% were already homeless and 11% were sleeping without shelter or in improvised or inadequate shelter when they first began receiving support. Agencies provided more than 7,000,000 nights of accommodation in 2011-12 and assisted 84% of clients at risk of homelessness to sustain their tenancy. This report presents the findings of the Specialist Homelessness Services Collection for 2011-12, and describes the clients of specialist homelessness agencies, the assistance they sought and were provided, and outcomes achieved for clients.

ISBN 978-1-74249-390-9; Cat. no. HOU 267; 150pp.; $22

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Summary

Almost 230,000 Australians accessed specialist homelessness services in 2011–12

Of these clients, 44% were already homeless when they began receiving support, and 14% of these clients were living without shelter. Fifty-six per cent were at risk of homelessness when
they began receiving support. Fifty-two per cent of all clients experienced homelessness at some time during the year.

Demand for crisis accommodation remains high and a fifth of clients have an unmet need

Sixty per cent of all clients needed accommodation in 2011‒12, with 40% needing short-term or emergency accommodation. Specialist homelessness agencies provided over 7,000,000 nights of accommodation to 37% of all clients. On average, 19,128 people were accommodated each night for an average of 82 nights per client. Nearly one-fifth of clients (19%) had a need for emergency accommodation that was unmet.

Homeless males more likely to be sleeping without shelter compared to females

Males who were homeless when they began receiving support were twice as likely to be sleeping without shelter (19%) compared to homeless females (9%).

Females made up a greater proportion of clients at risk and in remote areas

Roughly equal numbers of males and females were homeless when they began receiving support, but females represented 68% of those at risk. While females represented 57% of clients in Major cities they represented 81% of clients in Very remote areas.

Domestic violence is a major cause of homelessness in Australia

One-third (34%) of clients had experienced domestic or family violence. The majority of these (78%) were female and one-fifth (21%) were less than 10 years of age.

Health and medical services are the most needed specialist services for the homeless

One-fifth of homeless clients (19%) needed health and medical services and were three times more likely to need these services than clients at risk of homelessness.

Nineteen per cent of clients were identified as having a current mental health issue

The majority of clients identified with a current mental health issue were female (56%), almost
half (48%) of clients with a current mental health issue were aged between 25 and 44.

Improvements were achieved for many clients

Overall, 18% of those sleeping rough, 26% of those living in temporary supported accommodation, and 22% of those living in a house or flat (sharing and living without tenure) were assisted into public, community or private housing with improved tenure.

Recommended citation

AIHW 2012. Specialist Homelessness Services 2011-12. Cat. no. HOU 267. Canberra: AIHW.