SAAP a refuge for Indigenous women and children

Indigenous Australians, especially Indigenous women and children, rely on the Supported Accommodation Assistance Program (SAAP) more than others, according to a report released today by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW).

The Homeless Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander clients in SAAP 2006-07 report shows that, in that year, on average 1 in every 14 Indigenous women became a SAAP client and 1 in every 13 Indigenous children accompanied their parent or carer to a SAAP agency.

'These rates were considerably higher than the 1 in 169 for non-Indigenous women and the 1 in 98 for non-Indigenous children,' said Sean Ackland, Head of the AHIW's Homelessness and Housing Reporting and Analysis Unit.

Over 20,000 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people (about 1 in every 19 Indigenous Australians) became SAAP clients in 2006-07, compared with 1 in 200 non-Indigenous Australians.

Indigenous clients were, generally, slightly younger than non-Indigenous clients, with a median age of 28 years for Indigenous clients compared with 30 years for others.

A greater proportion of Indigenous clients were female (72%) than was the case for non-Indigenous clients (59%). The higher proportion of females had an effect on many of the aggregate statistics for Indigenous clients.

The main reason for Indigenous clients seeking support was domestic violence - again, more common than among non-Indigenous clients (29% compared with 22%).

The report also found that the circumstances of Indigenous clients before and after SAAP support differed from that of non-Indigenous clients.

'We found that a greater proportion of Indigenous clients reported that they were staying in a house or flat rented from a public or community housing organisation,' Mr Ackland said.

Most SAAP clients, both Indigenous and non-Indigenous, were not in the labour force and were receiving a government payment; however the proportions were higher for Indigenous clients.

SAAP agencies were able to provide the majority of services required for both clients and accompanying children, regardless of Indigenous status.

Just 4% of the services required for Indigenous clients remained unmet at the end of SAAP support, and just 2% for Indigenous children.

The Supported Accommodation Assistance Program is funded jointly by the Australian and State and Territory Governments.


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