Homeless receive support for longer

The length of support periods under the Commonwealth-State governments' Supported Accommodation Assistance Program (SAAP) has been increasing, according to a report released today by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW).

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

The SAAP annual report, compiled by the AIHW, shows that in 1996-97 around 45% of support periods lasted 2 days or less, with a median support period of 4 days. In 1999-00, 38% of support periods lasted 2 days or less, with a median support period of 6 days.

Combined Commonwealth and State/Territory government funding in 1999-00 for the SAAP program was $245.5 million, up 5% in real terms since 1996-97. Approximately 1200 SAAP agencies across Australia received $231.7 million, up 9% in real terms since 1996-97.

The Program assisted 90,000 clients last financial year, similar to previous years.

In 1999-00, 55% of clients were women. The average age of female clients was 30 years, while for men it was 32 years.

Eighteen per cent of female clients were from an Indigenous Australian background, and 13% from a non-English-speaking background. The corresponding figures for male clients were 9% and 9%.

Overall, the main reasons for seeking assistance were domestic violence (23%), relationship breakdown (12%), financial difficulties (11%) and eviction or previous accommodation ended (10%).

For women with children, 57% sought assistance because of domestic violence while for single women over 25 years of age the figure was 44%.

The main reason reported by men over 25 for seeking assistance was financial difficulty (around 20% of cases).

In 1999-00, 86% of all services requested by clients were provided to some extent, with an additional 6% of requests being referred to other service providers.

The types of support most often provided were housing services or accommodation (74% of periods of support), general support or advocacy (including living skills, assistance with legal issues, advice/information, retrieval of belongings, liaison on behalf of client) (72%), and 'other support' (meals, showers, laundry facilities, recreation, transport, etc.) (68%).


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