Report highlights demand for services for homeless

An estimated 20,000 Australians who were homeless or at risk of homelessness were provided with accommodation or services each day in May last year, according to a report released today by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW).

Services and support were provided under the Commonwealth-State governments' Supported Accommodation Assistance Program (SAAP).

The report Demand for SAAP Assistance 1999-2000 shows that SAAP agencies accommodated around 6,400 people each day in May 2000. A further 10,400 people received other types of substantial assistance, and almost 2,300 Australians received some type of casual assistance.

There were occasions, however, when SAAP agencies could not meet the demand.
Head of the SAAP National Data Collection Agency at the AIHW, Justin Griffin, said agencies were unable to meet an average of 219 requests for immediate accommodation each day.

'Unaccompanied men and women aged under 25, and women with children made up the majority of those turned away.'

'On any given day, less than 4% of clients leave the accommodation provided under the Program. At the same time, a similar number start their accommodation.

'However, the movement of people into and out of SAAP accommodation dropped at weekends, as did the number of unmet requests for accommodation.

'Overall, around 10 people for every 10,000 aged 10 years or more used SAAP services on a daily basis.'

Other findings from the report show that on an average day:

  • Information and meals were the most common forms of casual assistance provided.
  • Information and referrals for accommodation were the most common forms of casual assistance received by people seeking more substantial support.
  • Daily, 92 referrals for accommodation were arranged for people seeking accommodation for that night.
  • The provision of casual assistance dropped off considerably at weekends.

The SAAP program is a network of 1200 non-government agencies as well as local governments who provide important services to those Australians who are most disadvantaged.

3 December 2001


Further information: Justin Griffin, AIHW, tel. 02 6244 1206
Rose Karmel, AIHW, tel. 02 6244 1200
Media copies of the report: Publications Officer, AIHW, 02 6244 1032.