Supported accommodation and services reach 110,000 Australian adults

More than 110,000 adults as well as their accompanying children were provided with emergency accommodation and related support services in 1997-98, according to a report released today by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW).

According to the Supported Accommodation Assistance Program (SAAP) National Data Collection Annual Report 1997-98 more than $223 million in 1997-98 was provided by Commonwealth and State and Territory Governments to support people who were homeless or at risk of homelessness.

Head of the AIHW's Welfare Division, Dr Ching Choi, said a network of 1200 non-government agencies as well as local governments provided important services to those Australians who were most disadvantaged. 'About 93% of clients' support needs were met during the 12 months to July last year-this figure is slightly up from the previous year,' he said.

According to the report, 156,000 occasions of support were provided in the year. Of these 26% were provided to single men, 24% to young people, and 22% to women and children escaping domestic violence.

Among women seeking assistance, 39% were escaping domestic violence, and 11% relationship breakdowns or a family crisis. In contrast, 22% of men seeking assistance reported financial difficulties, and 12% family relationship breakdowns and substance abuse.

In addition to accommodation and related support services, SAAP also provided one-off assistance to casual clients. In 1997-98, more than 1 million occasions of one-off assistance were provided by SAAP agencies to families and individuals.

Other findings in the SAAP National Data Collection Annual Report 1997-98 include:

  • Support and assistance provided included: accommodation (69%), advice and information (58%), meals (54%), access to laundry and shower facilities (54%), transport (33%), advocacy (29%), financial assistance (26%), and recreation (25%).
  • In almost two-thirds of cases, the duration of support lasted two weeks or less with a significant proportion (18%) lasting less than one day, and 28% lasting 1-3 days.
  • A higher proportion of clients (75%) lived in independent housing after they received support from SAAP agencies than before (61%).

'These findings will assist governments and service providers to improve the support and assistance given to homeless Australians,' Dr Choi said.

'The information in the report will also contribute to the development of a new post-2000 SAAP agreement to be negotiated between the Commonwealth and State and Territory community services Ministers.'

14 May 1999


Further information: Dr Ching Choi, AIHW, ph. 02 6244 1197, Mr Justin Griffin, AIHW, ph. 02 6244 1206, or Mr Doug Limbrick, Department of Family and Community Services, ph. 02 9289 3730.
For media copies of the report: Mrs Lena Searle, AIHW, ph. 02 6244 1032.
Availability: Check the AIHW Publications Catalogue for details.