Young people major users of services for homeless

More than 85,000 young people under age 24 accessed the Supported Accommodation Assistance Program (SAAP) in 2001-02, according to a report released today by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW).

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

Head of the SAAP National Data Collection Agency at the AIHW, Justin Griffin, said that 34,600 young clients and 50,800 children accompanying clients used the program during 2001-02.

The annual report, Homeless people in SAAP, produced by the AIHW, also shows that 61,000 clients over age 24 received some form of support or accommodation from the program. Overall, the number of SAAP clients has increased from 83,200 to 95,600 in the six years since 1996-97.

Equally, combined government funding in 2001-02 for the program was $285 million-up 13% in real terms over the same period. The 1,286 SAAP agencies across Australia received a total of $269 million, up 17% since 1996-97.

Almost 2% of young Australian women aged 18-19 years received some form of assistance from the program during the last financial year. Overall, more female clients (56%) than male clients (44%) used the Program. The average age of female clients was 30 years, while for men it was 33 years. Just under 90% of accompanying children were aged 12 years or under.

Indigenous Australians comprised 17% of SAAP clients compared with their representation in the Australian population of 2.6%.

Approximately 10% 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 (22% of all support periods), eviction or previous accommodation ended (12%), usual accommodation was unavailable (10%), or relationship breakdown (10%).

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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