High numbers of children accessing homeless services with their parents

Children account for a large proportion of people accessing accommodation and other support services for the homeless, with a significant number escaping domestic violence with their mothers or other female guardians, according to the latest report from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW).

The second thematic report on the Supported Accommodation Assistance Program (SAAP) National Data Collection, Children accompanying homeless clients 2002-03, states that on average, children accompanying their parent or guardian account for around 42% of all people assisted by SAAP agencies each day.

In total, about 53,800 children accompanied their parent or guardian to a SAAP agency or received assistance because their parent or guardian was a client of an agency in 2002-03. These children had approximately 71,250 support periods.

Report co-author Anne Giovanetti said domestic violence was the major reason SAAP clients with children sought agency support.

'Domestic violence was the most common reason for seeking assistance, and around 39,700 - or two-thirds - of all accompanying child support periods were provided where the parent or guardian needed assistance for this reason,' Ms Giovanetti said.

The report also provides information on the services accompanying children required from SAAP agencies, for example, accommodation, meals, health or medical services and sexual or physical abuse counselling or support.

Agencies were able to provide required services in proportionately more cases for accompanying children who were in SAAP due to domestic violence compared with children who accompanied clients seeking assistance for other reasons.

Other findings in the report include:

  • approximately 88% of children accompanying their parent or guardian to a SAAP agency were aged 12 years or under. A total of 9% were aged 13-15 years and 3% were 16-17 years;
  • the majority of clients with accompanying children were aged between 25 and 44 years (68%). A further 22% were aged 18-24 years, 7% were 45 years and over and 2% were under 18 years of age;
  • 86% of the accompanying child support periods were for children accompanying a female client; and
  • the proportion of support periods for clients with accompanying children who rented public or community housing increased from 18% before support to 25% after support.


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