12,335 homeless accommodated on an average day, but some still seek shelter

The Supported Accommodation Assistance Program (SAAP) is able to accommodate large numbers of people each day, but some, especially families with children, are still turned away.

'On an average day during the data collection period (one week in May and one week in December) 12,335 people - 7,409 adults and unaccompanied children and 4,927 accompanying children - were housed in SAAP accommodation,' said Felicity Murdoch, of the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare's Supported Accommodation and Crisis Services Unit.

Not everyone who needs a place to stay, however, is able to get one, with an estimated 304 people who requested immediate accommodation turned away on an average day - 193 adults and unaccompanied children and 111 accompanying children.

In relation to the number of people making valid requests for immediate accommodation on a given day, this means that over half (56%) were turned away.

'In order to put those turn-away rates in perspective, it is important to include the number of people continuing their SAAP accommodation on an average day.

'Given the large numbers of people already accommodated in SAAP each day, this means that only two in 100 people needing immediate accommodation were unable to be accommodated, Ms Murdoch explained.

People who had an unmet request for immediate accommodation were more likely to be female (57% of all people), born in Australia (93%), and not of an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander background (71%).

The majority of adults who made a valid unmet request for immediate SAAP accommodation were aged 20-44 years (52%).

The majority of children who accompanied a potential client were under 12 years old (73%).

Families had more difficulty obtaining SAAP accommodation than individuals, however, once in SAAP accommodation, family groups tended to stay longer. This suggests that it is more difficult to place families in the limited daily accommodation available.

Every year, the Supported Accommodation Assistance Program conducts surveys of people turned away from SAAP-funded accommodation for evaluation purposes.

The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) analyses these survey results to provide a picture of Australia's major government response to homelessness.

Findings are published annually by the AIHW in Demand for SAAP accommodation by homeless people and Demand for SAAP assistance by homeless people.

14 December 2006

Further information: Ms Felicity Murdoch, AIHW, tel. 02 6244 1018 or mob. 0407 915 851 or Anne Giovanetti 02 6244 1206

For media copies of the report: Publications Officer, AIHW, tel. 61 2 6244 1032.