Young people major users of services for homeless

More than 31,000 young people between the ages of 15 and 24 used the Supported Accommodation Assistance Program (SAAP) in 2000-01, according to a report released today by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW).

Head of the SAAP National Data Collection Agency at the AIHW, Justin Griffin, said that overall this accounted for over 1 in every 93 people in this age group. 'This compares with 1 in every 130 people aged 25 to 44, and fewer than 1 in every 385 aged 45 years or over.'

The Commonwealth-State/Territory governments' SAAP program provides support and accommodation for people who are homeless or at risk of homelessness.

The SAAP annual report, produced by the AIHW, shows that combined government funding in 2000-01 for the program was $268.5 million, up 10% in real terms in the four years since 1996-97. The 1,238 SAAP agencies across Australia received a total of $251.4 million, up 13% since 1996-97.

The Program assisted 91,200 clients last financial year. The average age of female clients was 30 years, while for men it was 32 years.

Indigenous Australians comprised 16% of SAAP clients compared with their representation in the population of under 2%.

Approximately 12% of SAAP clients were born in countries where English is not the main language spoken.

The main reasons overall for seeking assistance were domestic violence (23% of all support periods), eviction or previous accommodation ended (11%), relationship breakdown (10%) and financial difficulties (10%).

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

Domestic violence was by far the most common reason for seeking assistance by women with children (54%), and for single women over 25 years of age (45%).

For younger men and women the main reason was breakdown of a relationship or family (17% and 21% respectively).

In 2000-01, 87% of all services requested by clients were provided to some extent, with an additional 6% of requests being referred to other service providers. The remaining 7% of requests were not met.

The types of support most often provided by SAAP agencies were housing services/accommodation, general support or advocacy (including living skills, assistance with legal issues, advice/information, retrieval of belongings, liaison on behalf of client), and basic support services such as meals, showers, laundry facilities, recreation, and transport.


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