Canberra's human services highly home and community-based, says report

Compared with the other States and Territories, Canberra's human services are provided more through the home and community, and less through residential services, according to a report released today by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare.

The report, The Need for and Provision of Human Services in the ACT, was commissioned by the ACT Chief Minister's Department to assist in policy making and planning for the future needs of the Territory's population.

It covers the broad range of services provided across the areas of aged care, disability, housing, homelessness, alcohol and other drugs, and mental health-and provides insight into the people who use them.

Head of the AIHW's Welfare Division, Dr Diane Gibson, said this broad approach was unusual and allowed interesting patterns to emerge such as the higher provision of home and community services coupled with a comparatively low rate of provision of residential services, particularly in aged care, disability, and mental health.

'On the latter point, Canberra, for example, has fewer residential aged care places than other capital cities-80 places per 1,000 people aged 70 and over, compared with 86 places for all capital cities.

'However, older people in the ACT receive substantially more support to remain living in their own homes than is the case nationally.'

Dr Gibson said that the report also showed that many services are being used by people who come from outside the Territory.

'Almost 15% of residents in aged care services were from outside the ACT, as were 11% of mental health-related hospital admissions, and 3% of people using disability services.

'These figures show the importance of Canberra-based services to people living in surrounding regional areas as well as within the ACT itself.'

Other findings in the report were that:

  • The ACT has a relatively high level of public housing provision compared with the rest of Australia.
  • The ACT has a lower rate of homelessness than any other State or Territory, and a greater proportion of homeless people using services provided by the Supported Accommodation Assistance Program (SAAP). Nonetheless, about 20 clients were turned away each day by SAAP services in the ACT.
  • The current low vacancy rate for private rental housing in the ACT has increased pressure on public housing and on SAAP services.
  • Of clients using alcohol and drug treatment services, a higher proportion in the ACT sought treatment for heroin than was the case nationally (44% compared to 28%), and a lower proportion sought treatment for cannabis (7% compared to 14% nationally).

5 March 2003


Further information: Dr Diane Gibson, AIHW, tel. 02 6244 1190
For media copies of the report: Publications Officer, AIHW, tel. 02 6244 1032