Young women the dominant users of specialist homelessness services

Young women sought support from a specialist homelessness agency more than any other group in 2010-11, according to a report released today by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW).

The report, Government-funded specialist homelessness services SAAP National Data Collection annual report 2010-11,  shows that in 2010-11, an estimated 230,500 (equivalent to 1 in 97 Australians) accessed specialist homelessness services. Of these, 142,500 (62%) were clients and 88,000 (38%) were children accompanying clients.

‘The group with the highest rate of use was females aged 15-19,’ said AIHW spokesperson Geoff Neideck.

The report shows that 1 in 40 Australian females aged 15-19 accessed support in 2010-11.

‘This group, unaccompanied women, women with children, and young people all commonly sought assistance because of interpersonal issues, such as domestic violence or the breakdown of a relationship,’ Mr Neideck said.

Unaccompanied men aged 25 and over commonly sought assistance because of drug, alcohol or substance use, or as a result of financial difficulties.

‘Couples, both with and without children, and males with children most commonly sought assistance because of accommodation issues, such as being evicted,’ Mr Neideck said.

With the exception of a slight increase in average age, there has been little change in the overall demographic profile of clients and their accompanying children, their reasons for seeking assistance, or in their circumstances following a period of support.

‘There have, however, been some changes in the use of government-funded specialist homelessness services between 2006-07 and 2010-11,’ Mr Neideck said.

‘There has been a small increase in the overall rate of Australians using specialist homelessness services, from 1 in every 110 Australians, to 1 in every 97. There has also been an increase in the average length of support.’

The national report is accompanied by eight state and territory supplementary reports, which provide data specific to each state and territory and a summary of key results. Further information on homelessness can be found in the AIHW’s report Australia’s welfare 2011.

These are the final annual reports to be sourced from the Supported Accommodation Assistance Program (SAAP) National Data Collection (NDC). Data on the people using specialist homelessness services will in future be reported from the new Specialist Homelessness Services (SHS) collection.

The AIHW is a major national agency set up by the Australian Government to provide reliable, regular and relevant information and statistics on Australia's health and welfare.

Canberra, 9 December 2011

Further information: Mr Geoff Neideck, AIHW, tel. (02) 6244 1163, mob. 0439 878 933

For media copies of the report: Publications Officer 02 6244 1032