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 for a two-week period in February and March 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 2000-01 shows that SAAP agencies accommodated around 6,800 people each day in February/March 2001. A further 10,600 people received other types of substantial assistance, and 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 all requests for immediate accommodation each day.

'On any given day, about 260 clients leave the accommodation provided under the Program, a similar number start their accommodation and about 340 potential clients have unmet requests for immediate accommodation. These potential clients were accompanied by about 190 children.

'One must bear in mind, however, that this does not mean 340 different potential clients each day. The report shows that some keep returning to agencies on subsequent days in their quest for assisted accommodation.'

'Some of the potential clients were referred to other SAAP agencies for accommodation (an average of around 140 per day).

'Overall, around 1 in every 1,000 Australians aged 10 years or more used SAAP services on a daily basis.'

Other findings from the report show that:

  • The movement of people into and out of SAAP accommodation dropped at weekends, as did the number of unmet requests for accommodation.
  • 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.
  • The provision of casual assistance (e.g. meals, information, etc) dropped off considerably at weekends.
  • The SAAP program is a network of 1,238 non-government agencies as well as local governments who provide important services to those Australians who are most disadvantaged.

6 December 2002


Further information: Justin Griffin, AIHW, tel. 02 6244 1206
For media copies of the report: Publications Officer, AIHW, tel. 02 6244 1032.