AIHW news

First-of-its-kind report provides a clearer picture of homelessness and family violence

A recent AIHW report provides new insights into the relationship between domestic and family violence and homelessness, by using data on clients who access homelessness services, their reasons for seeking assistance, and their circumstances.

The report, Domestic and family violence and homelessness 2011–12 to 2013–14 found that around 520,000 Australians accessed homelessness services over the three years to 2013–14, with 187,000 (36%) being adults and children seeking assistance due to domestic and family violence. Among these, six vulnerable groups were identified: women with children, young women presenting alone (15–24 years), Indigenous women, women from non-English speaking backgrounds (NESB), older women and males.

'Specialist homelessness services (SHS) agencies provide crisis and emergency accommodation as well as a range of financial, health, specialist, general and housing support services,' said Tim Beard, Acting Head of the AIHW's Housing and Specialised Services Group.

Most clients able to transition into stable housing

'Over the study period, SHS agencies were able to assist most domestic or family violence clients to acquire or retain secure housing in either private rental or social housing,' Mr Beard said.

This was particularly true of women with children (3 in 4 acquiring or retaining secure housing), older women (8 in 10) and non-English speaking women (7 in 10).

'However, for groups who were already more likely to be couch surfing, have no tenure, or be sleeping rough, the likelihood of securing stable accommodation was lower.'

What services are needed? Are these needs being met?

Almost half (48%) of domestic and family violence clients needed short-term or emergency accommodation, with Indigenous women (72%) and males (61%) in greatest need. In most cases these needs were met, although young women presenting alone, and males, were the least likely to have their need met (16% of clients in each group did not have their needs met).

'In contrast, there was greater unmet need among those seeking long-term accommodation,' Mr Beard said.

Across all six groups, 32% of clients required long-term housing, but of these, less than 1 in 10 were able to be provided with the assistance they requested.

Longer periods of support, more return clients

Domestic and family violence clients required more support than other clients, generally requiring longer—and a greater number of—periods of support (Table 1).

Indigenous women, males, and young women presenting alone received the most support on average.

These groups included young women presenting alone (48% housed) and males (38% housed).

Table 1: Comparison of SHS service use

SHS Client Group Average number of support periods Average days of support
Not experiencing domestic and family violence All 1.9 92
Experiencing domestic and family violence All 2.4 136
Indigenous women 3.4 170
Males 3.3 167
Young women presenting alone 3.0 173

View Domestic and family violence and homelessness 2011–12 to 2013–14.

If you are experiencing domestic or family violence or know someone who is, please call 1800RESPECT (1800 737 732) or visit the 1800RESPECT website.

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