12,200 homeless accommodated daily, but people with kids turned away most often

On any given day, at least 12,200 Australians are being provided accommodation through the Commonwealth-State governments' Supported Accommodation Assistance Program (SAAP), according to a report released today by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare.

The report Demand for SAAP Assistance by Homeless People 2002-03, shows that the 1,282 SAAP agencies provided accommodation or help in the form of other assistance to over 97,600 clients a year and 53,800 accompanying children.

However, says AIHW author, Ms Anne Giovanetti, SAAP agencies are operating to capacity, with demand for SAAP accommodation unable to be completely met.

'In addition to the 11,900 people who were continuing their accommodation, another 646 people sought immediate accommodation every day. However, SAAP agencies were unable to help 51% (225) of adults and unaccompanied children with immediate requests, and 62% (127) of those children who were accompanying adults daily.

'It appears that people presenting in groups, particularly with children, have the most difficulty in obtaining immediate SAAP accommodation. Eighty per cent of couples with children and 66% of individuals with children were being turned away on an average day.'

For the first time in this annual report, says Ms Giovanetti, it has been possible to present figures on turn-away rates by region, with some interesting differences.

'Metropolitan centres other than capital cities had a higher turn-away rate (75%) than those requesting accommodation in capital cities (54%), large rural centres (32%), other rural areas (50%), and remote areas (15%).

'From a state and territory perspective, WA reported the lowest turn-away rate for couples without children, whereas Victoria had the lowest turn-away rates for groups presenting with children. Victoria also supported the highest proportion in Australia (37%) of accompanying children. The data therefore reflects differences in the service structures of the various jurisdictions.'

Other findings from the report show that:

  • SAAP agencies also provided over 2,300 people a day with one-off short-term assistance such as information or meals.
  • The three broad service types that were most commonly provided were basic support, such as meals and showers (98%), accommodation (93%) and general support or advocacy (92%).

29 October 2004

Further information: Ms Anne Giovanetti, AIHW, tel. 02 6244 1122 or mobile 0419 239 581.
For media copies of the report: Publications Officer, AIHW, tel. 02 6244 1032.