Glossary

accommodation services: Accommodation services include short-term or emergency accommodation, medium-term/transitional housing, assistance to obtain long term housing, assistance to sustain tenancy or prevent tenancy failure or eviction and assistance to prevent foreclosures or for mortgage arrears.

adult client: A client aged 18 years or over, or aged 15 to 17 that presents alone.

at risk of homelessness: A person is described as at risk of homelessness if they are at risk of losing their accommodation or they are experiencing one or more of a range of factors or triggers that can contribute to homelessness. The measurement of this concept in the SHSC is defined in the Data derivation section.

Risk factors include:

  • financial stress (including due to loss of income, low income, gambling, change of family circumstances)
  • housing affordability stress and housing crisis (pending evictions/foreclosures, rental and/or mortgage arrears)
  • inadequate or inappropriate dwelling conditions, including accommodation that is unsafe, unsuitable or overcrowded
  • previous accommodation ended
  • relationship/family breakdown
  • child abuse, neglect or environments where children are at risk
  • sexual abuse
  • domestic/family violence
  • non-family violence
  • mental health issues and other health problems
  • problematic alcohol, drug or substance use
  • employment difficulties and unemployment
  • problematic gambling
  • transitions from custodial and care arrangements, including out-of-home care,
  • independent living arrangements for children aged under 18, health and mental health
  • facilities/programs, juvenile/youth justice and correctional facilities
  • discrimination, including racial discrimination (e.g. Aboriginal people in the urban rental market)
  • disengagement with school or other education and training
  • involvement in, or exposure to, criminal activities
  • antisocial behaviour
  • lack of family and/or community support
  • staying in a boarding house for 12 weeks or more without security of tenure.

calculating total length of accommodation (and total length of support): To calculate accommodation and support length, every night (for length of accommodation) or day (for length of support) the client received support or accommodation in over the reporting period is added together. This means that the total number of days/nights presented for clients does not necessarily represent a consecutive number of days/nights the client received support/accommodation. For example, a client who received accommodation for 7 nights may have had 2 separate periods of accommodation: 1 for 5 nights and another for 2 nights.

client: A client is defined as a person who receives a service from a specialist homelessness service. A client can be of any age. Children are also clients if they receive a service from a specialist homelessness agency. To be a client the person must:

  • directly receive a service and not just be a beneficiary of a service. Children who present with an adult and receive a service are considered to be a client.
  • children of a client or other household members who present but do not directly receive a service are not considered to be clients.

clients who had experienced domestic and family violence: Specialist Homelessness Services Collection (SHSC) clients were counted as experiencing domestic and family violence if, any support period during the reporting period:

  • 'domestic and family violence' was reported as a reason they sought assistance; or
  • during any support period they required domestic or family violence assistance.

The SHSC reports on all clients who experience  domestic and family violence. This includes both victims and  perpetrators The SHSC data are not able to distinguish between these 2 groups.

clients with a mental health issue: A client was identified as having a current mental health issue if they provided any of the following information:

  • They indicated that at the beginning of a support period they were receiving services or assistance for their mental health issues or had in the past 12 months.
  • Their formal referral source to the specialist homelessness agency was a mental health service.
  • They reported 'mental health issues' as a reason for seeking assistance.
  • Their dwelling type either a week before presenting to an agency, or when presenting to an agency, was a psychiatric hospital or unit.
  • They had been in a psychiatric hospital or unit in the last 12 months.
  • At some stage during their support period, a need was identified for psychological services, psychiatric services or mental health services.

clients with problematic drug or alcohol use: Clients with a drug and/or alcohol use issue include those clients:

  • who reported they had been in rehabilitation in the last 12 months
  • whose formal referral source to the specialist homelessness agency was a drug and alcohol service
  • who reported 'problematic drug or substance use' or 'problematic alcohol use' as a reason for seeking assistance
  • whose dwelling type either a week before presenting to an agency, or when presenting to an agency was rehabilitation
  • who at some stage during their support period, were identified as needing drug and/or alcohol counselling.

domestic violence: A set of violent behaviours between current or former intimate partners, where one partner aims to exert power and control over the other through fear. Domestic violence can include physical violence, sexual violence, emotional abuse and psychological abuse.

emotional abuse from a partner: Abuse between current or former cohabiting partners that occurs when a person is subjected to behaviours or actions (often repeatedly) aimed at preventing or controlling their behaviour, with the intent to cause them emotional harm or fear through manipulation, isolation or intimidation.

family violence: Includes violence between family members as well as current or former intimate partners. For example, family violence can include acts of violence between a parent and a child. Family violence is the preferred term used to identify experiences of violence for Indigenous people as it encompasses the broad range of extended family and kinship relationships in which violence may occur.

general services: General services include:

  • family/relationship assistance
  • assistance for incest/sexual assault
  • legal information
  • material aid/brokerage
  • financial information
  • educational assistance
  • training assistance
  • employment assistance
  • assistance to obtain/maintain government allowances
  • assertive outreach
  • child care
  • assistance for trauma
  • assistance for challenging social/behavioural problems
  • living skills/personal development
  • court support
  • advice/information
  • retrieval/storage/removal of personal belongings
  • advocacy/liaison on behalf of client
  • school liaison
  • structured play/skills development
  • child contact and residence arrangements
  • meals
  • laundry/shower facilities
  • recreation
  • transport and
  • other basic assistance.

homelessness status and other housing categories: All clients of specialist homelessness services are considered to be either homeless or at risk of homelessness. Homelessness and at-risk status is aligned to those clients whose housing circumstances meet the specific criteria described below. Clients who did not provide sufficient information to make this assessment are excluded.

These categories are assigned to homeless and at-risk categories as much as possible to align with the ABS statistical definition of homelessness (ABS 2012). However, there are some key areas where alignment may not occur. The ABS definition includes people living in severely crowded dwellings. No specific question is asked in the SHSC on crowding, so this group cannot be separately identified.

Also, certain decisions are made by the ABS to exclude groups of people from the homeless count where they appear to have accommodation alternatives or there is a clear choice about the type of accommodation (for example, people who are travelling, people returning from overseas, certain owner builder or hobby farmers, and students living in halls of residence). However, if people in these circumstances become clients of specialist homelessness agencies, they are included here as either homeless or at risk of homelessness, depending on their housing situation as reported.

Clients are considered to be homeless if they are living in any of the following circumstances:

  • No shelter or improvised dwelling: includes where dwelling type is no dwelling/street/park/in the open, motor vehicle, improvised building/dwelling, caravan, cabin, boat or tent; or tenure type is renting or living rent-free in a caravan park.
  • Short-term temporary accommodation: dwelling type is boarding/rooming house, emergency accommodation, hotel/motel/bed and breakfast; or tenure type is renting or living rent-free in boarding/rooming house, renting or living rent-free in emergency accommodation or transitional housing.
  • House, townhouse or flat (couch surfing or with no tenure): tenure type is no tenure; or conditions of occupancy are living with relatives fee free, couch surfing.

Clients are considered to be at risk of homelessness if they are living in any of the following circumstances:

  • Public or community housing (renter or rent free): dwelling type is house/townhouse/flat and tenure type is renter or rent-free public housing, renter or rent-free–community housing.
  • Private or other housing (renter, rent-free or owner): dwelling type is house/townhouse/flat and tenure type is renter–private housing, life tenure scheme, owner―shared equity or rent/buy scheme, owner—being purchased/with mortgage, owner—fully owned, rent-free–private/other housing.

identifying clients’ needs for a service: The SHSC collects information on the needs of clients during their period of support from a specialist homelessness agency. Needs may be identified by the client and/or the service provider. Although this information is collected at the beginning of a support period, updated at the end of each month a client is supported and again at the end of each support period, each individual need is only recorded once in any collection month. For these analyses, a client need for a service is recorded if the client needed that service at any time from 2011–12 to 2013–14. For example, a client is recorded as needing short term accommodation if they were recorded as needing short term accommodation in any collection month between 2011–12 and 2013–14, regardless of the number of months over which this need was recorded, or the number of times during over the reporting period they presented with this need.

indigenous: A client is considered as Indigenous if, at any time in the reporting period, they identified as being of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander origin.

In the SHSC, information on Indigenous status is only provided with the explicit client consent to report this information.

indigenous women: Indigenous women are defined as clients who are female, Indigenous, aged 18 years and above or are a young person presenting alone (15–17),  and, during any support period, reported ‘domestic and family violence’ as a reason they sought assistance or required domestic or family violence assistance.

A client is considered as an Indigenous woman if, at any time in the reporting period, they identified as being of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander origin.

In the SHSC, information on Indigenous status is only provided with the explicit client consent to report this information.

The age of the client is defined as the client’s age on the start date of their first support period in the reporting period. For those who were ongoing clients at the beginning of the reporting period, the client’s age on the first day of the reporting period is used.

meeting clients’ service needs: There are several aspects to analysing the extent to which clients’ needs for assistance are met. The first is to analyse the services provided to a client directly by the specialist homelessness agency. Where agencies are unable to provide services directly to clients, or unable to fully meet the need, they often refer the client to other organisations (other specialist homelessness agencies or other organisations) that can provide those services. This information is also collected in the SHSC and is considered an important form of assistance that agencies provide, although it is not possible to know if these referrals resulted in the provision of services.

All information on services that are provided, whether referred or not, are recorded in the same way as service needs. That is, a service is recorded as provided if the client was provided that type of assistance at any time in between 2011–12 and 2013–14.

In some circumstances, an agency will not be able to either provide required services directly to clients, or refer them to another organisation—this is considered to be an unmet need.

men: Are defined as clients who are male, aged 18 years and above or are a young person presenting alone (15–17), and, during any support period, reported ‘domestic and family violence’ as a reason they sought assistance or required domestic or family violence assistance.

The age of the client is defined as the client’s age on the start date of their first support period in the reporting period. For those who were ongoing clients at the beginning of the reporting period, the client’s age on the first day of the reporting period is used.

Non-English Speaking Background women: Non-English Speaking Background women are defined as clients who are female, come from a non-English speaking background, aged 18 years and above or are a young person presenting alone (15–17), and, during any support period, reported ‘domestic and family violence’ as a reason they sought assistance or required domestic or family violence assistance.

A client is determined to be from a non-English speaking background based on their country of origin.

The age of the client is defined as the client’s age on the start date of their first support period in the reporting period. For those who were ongoing clients at the beginning of the reporting period, the client’s age on the first day of the reporting period is used.

older women: Older women are defined as clients who are female, aged 55 years or more, and, during any support period, reported 'domestic and family violence' as a reason they sought assistance or required domestic or family violence assistance.

The age of the client is defined as their age on the start date of their first support period in the reporting period. For those who were ongoing clients at the beginning of the reporting period, the client’s age on the first day of the reporting period was used.

other specialist services: Other specialist services include:

  • health/medical services
  • specialist counselling services and
  • other specialised services.

partner violence: A set of violent behaviours a respondent experienced from a person they currently live with, or lived with at some point, in an intimate relationship and does not include violence by a boyfriend/girlfriend or date. 

psychological abuse: Behaviours including limiting access to finances, exclusion from contacting family and friends, demeaning and humiliation, and any threats of injury or death directed at the victim or their children.

sexual violence: Behaviours of a sexual nature carried out against a person’s will through the use of physical force or coercion (or any threat or attempt to do so). Sexual violence can be perpetrated by partners in a domestic relationship, former partners, other people known to the victims, or strangers.

sleeping rough: Is a term used to refer to those people who are:

  • living in an improvised building or dwelling; or
  • sleeping on the street, in a park or in the open.

social housing: Rental housing that is funded or partly funded by government, and that is owned or managed by the government or a community organisation and let to eligible persons. This includes public rental housing, state owned and managed Indigenous housing (SOMIH), mainstream and Indigenous community housing and housing provided under the Crisis Accommodation Program.

specialist homelessness agency: A specialist homelessness agency is an organisation which receives government funding to deliver specialist homelessness services to a client. These can be either not-for-profit and for profit agencies.

specialist homelessness service(s): Specialist homelessness service(s) is assistance provided by a specialist homelessness agency to a client aimed at responding to or preventing homelessness. The specialist homelessness services in scope for this collection include accommodation provision, assistance to sustain housing, domestic/family violence services, mental health services, family/relationship assistance, disability services, drug/alcohol counselling, legal/financial services, immigration/cultural services, other specialist services and general assistance and support.

support period: The period of time a client experiencing domestic and family violence receives provisions from a specialist homelessness service agency is referred to as a 'support period'. A support period begins the day the client receives a service and ends when either:

  • The relationship between the client and the agency ends
  • The client has reached the maximum amount of support the agency can offer
  • A client has not received any services from the agency for a calendar month and there is no other ongoing relationship.

The end of the support period is the day the client last received service from the agency.

women with children: Women with children are defined as clients who are female, 25 years or older, or are a young person presenting alone (15–24), report a living arrangement of either 'One parent with child(ren)' or 'Couple with child(ren)', and during any support period, reported 'domestic and family violence' as a reason they sought assistance or required domestic or family violence assistance.

The age of the client is defined as the client’s age on the start date of their first support period in the reporting period. For those who were ongoing clients at the beginning of the reporting period, the client’s age on the first day of the reporting period is used.

young women presenting alone: Young women presenting alone are clients who are female, aged 15–24, who presented alone in their first support period in the reporting period, and, during any support period, reported 'domestic and family violence' as a reason they sought assistance or required domestic or family violence assistance.

The age of the client is defined as the client’s age on the start date of their first support period in the reporting period. For those who were ongoing clients at the beginning of the reporting period, the client’s age on the first day of the reporting period is used.