Homeless families, children more likely to be turned away

Family groups are more likely to be turned away from supported accommodation than other homeless people, according to a new report released today by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW).

As the major government safety net for people who are homeless, the Supported Accommodation Assistance Program (SAAP) is often the last resort for people who find themselves without safe, secure or adequate housing.

'While the program accommodates large numbers of people everyday, it cannot always meet all the requests that it receives each day,' said Mr Justin Griffin, of the Institute's Supported Accommodation and Crisis Services Unit.

Around one in two people who request immediate SAAP accommodation are turned away on an average day, and almost two in every three children accompanying a person seeking immediate accommodation are refused a place.

However there is another side to this picture. Taking into account the people already accommodated by SAAP service as well as those seeking accommodation, these 'new requests' make up only a small part of the total demand for SAAP accommodation.

'When we look at the data this way only three out of every 100 people cannot be accommodated on an average night. So while getting into the system can be difficult, once accommodated, it is likely that people who require more SAAP accommodation will continue to have their needs met,' Mr Griffin said.

The report, Demand for SAAP accommodation 2003-04, found that once in accommodation, family groups also tended to stay longer than others.

The data suggest that accommodation for family groups is relatively scarce in SAAP. However, further investigation needs to be carried out to determine where and how many extra places are required, or whether other support options are available for homeless families.

28 February 2006

Further information: Mr Justin Griffin, AIHW, tel. 02 6244 1206 or mob. 0419 239 581

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