Supported Accommodation Assistance Program helps 16,500 clients every day

The Commonwealth-State governments' Supported Accommodation Assistance Program (SAAP) assists around 16,500 clients on any given day, according to 1998-99 estimates released today by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW).

The Program provides support and accommodation for people who are homeless or at risk of homelessness.

In 1998-99, 54% of SAAP clients were women. Approximately 36% of all clients were between 15 and 25 years of age, while 8% of clients were aged 50 or more. In almost 50% of cases, relationship breakdown or family conflict was cited as the main reason for seeking assistance.

  • In agencies targeting young people, the main reason most frequently given was relationship or family breakdown (25%).
  • In agencies targeting single men, financial difficulty (26%) and substance abuse (18%) were most commonly given as main reasons.
  • Domestic violence was cited as the main reason for seeking assistance in 14% of cases for agencies targeting families; 19% for those targeting single women, and 72% for agencies targeting women escaping domestic violence.
  • People using agencies targeting families or targeting a range of groups most commonly gave financial difficulty or eviction as main reasons (36% combined).

In agencies for single men, accommodation services were provided in 92% of support periods, compared to 66% in agencies targeting young people. Two-thirds of support periods in agencies for women escaping domestic violence involved counselling services. Counselling services were provided in 16% of support periods in agencies for single men.

Nearly 91,000 people received support and/or accommodation under the SAAP program in 1998-99. This figure compares with 94,000 clients assisted in 1997-98, and the 83,000 clients assisted in 1996-97. These 91,000 people had about 163,000 support periods throughout the year.

Head of the SAAP National Data Collection Agency at the AIHW, Mr Justin Griffin, said that in 10% of cases clients reported having no income immediately before receiving support from SAAP agencies.

'However, this figure was much higher for young people-86% of those aged under 15 years, and 24% aged 15-19 years had no available income,' Mr Griffin said. 'In more than half of all cases (55%) clients were not in the labour force and in 36% they were unemployed and looking for work.'

In addition to accommodation and related support services, SAAP also provided one-off assistance to casual clients. In 1998-99, more than 1.3 million occasions of one-off assistance were provided by SAAP agencies to families and individuals.

5 April 2000

Further information: Mr Justin Griffin, AIHW, tel. 02 6244 1206; Dr Ching Choi, AIHW, tel. 02 6244 1197; and Mr Doug Limbrick, Department of Family and Community Services, tel. 02 6212 9021.
For media copies of the report: Publications Officer, tel. 02 6244 1032.