Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (2016) A profile of Specialist Homelessness Services homeless clients 2011–12 to 2014–15, AIHW, Australian Government, accessed 01 February 2023.
Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. (2016). A profile of Specialist Homelessness Services homeless clients 2011–12 to 2014–15. Retrieved from https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/homelessness-services/a-profile-of-specialist-homelessness-services-home
A profile of Specialist Homelessness Services homeless clients 2011–12 to 2014–15. Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, 18 October 2016, https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/homelessness-services/a-profile-of-specialist-homelessness-services-home
Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. A profile of Specialist Homelessness Services homeless clients 2011–12 to 2014–15 [Internet]. Canberra: Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, 2016 [cited 2023 Feb. 1]. Available from: https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/homelessness-services/a-profile-of-specialist-homelessness-services-home
Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) 2016, A profile of Specialist Homelessness Services homeless clients 2011–12 to 2014–15, viewed 1 February 2023, https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/homelessness-services/a-profile-of-specialist-homelessness-services-home
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For the purposes of the Specialist Homelessness Services Collection (SHSC), rough sleepers are those with no shelter or who are living in non-conventional accommodation. Non-conventional accommodation includes: living on the streets, sleeping in parks, squatting, staying in cars or railway carriages, living in improvised dwellings or living in the long grass .
Between 2011–12 and 2014–15, a total of 39,371 clients (9% of all Specialist Homelessness Services (SHS) clients aged 15 years and over) were sleeping rough upon first presentation to SHS. Per year, this ranged from 13,037 in 2011–12 to 15,252 in 2014–15, peaking at 15,683 in 2013–14.
Typically, rough sleepers are…
male, aged 35 years or over, unemployed, presenting to services alone, located in Major cities and reporting that they have a diagnosed mental health issue.
The most common reasons people sleeping rough sought assistance from SHS were (Figure RS.1):
Source: Supplementary data source table.
Rough sleepers were more likely to seek assistance from SHS for accommodation or financial issues than health related issues, but they were still more likely than the SHS client population to seek assistance for health related issues (39% compared with 25%). This was most pronounced for:
At the time of presentation to SHS, more than three-quarters (78%) of rough sleepers needed assistance with accommodation, compared with just over half (55%) of all SHS clients (Supplementary data tables RS.12; SHS.1). This need was highest for short-term or emergency accommodation and lowest for medium-term or transitional housing (Figure RS.2).
In general, rough sleepers were slightly more likely to receive assistance with accommodation when compared with all SHS clients (62% compared with 57%, respectively).
While rough sleepers were equally likely to receive short-term or emergency accommodation as SHS clients (both 65%), they were less likely to receive:
Rough sleepers were also more likely than typical SHS clients to need assistance with general services such as:
Rough sleepers were just as likely to receive these services as SHS clients, with more than 90% of all clients who needed these services receiving them.
Less than half (45%) of rough sleepers when presenting to specialist homelessness services requested assistance with interpersonal relationships compared with more than half (53%) of all SHS clients aged 15 and over.
Specifically rough sleepers were less likely to require assistance with:
Rough sleepers were also less likely than SHS clients to need assistance with legal services such as:
1 in 10 (10%) rough sleepers experienced repeat homelessness between 2011–12 and 2014–15. This means the client had transitioned between being homeless, housed and then homeless again at least once during this time.
The proportions for both males and females have remained consistent across time, but the numbers of males and females sleeping rough and experiencing repeat episodes of homelessness have increased by 6% since 2011.
Almost 2 in 5 (38% or 15,067) clients who first presented to homelessness services as a rough sleeper remained rough sleeping at the end of support. One in 5 (21%) clients presenting as a rough sleeper ended their support 'housed' (12% ended their support in private rental housing and 9% in public or community housing). A further 1 in 5 (17%) transitioned to short-term or emergency accommodation.
Other housing outcomes for rough sleepers who sought assistance from SHS agencies included: couch surfing (5%), and ending support in an institutional setting (2%). Despite support periods being closed, the housing outcome for almost 1 in 5 (17%) rough sleepers was unknown at the end of their support (Figure RS.3).
Compared with the total rough sleeper population, those that ended their support 'housed' were more likely to: be female, have experienced domestic or family violence, have reported experiencing a mental health issue, be located in regional areas, present to services accompanied by children, have experienced more than one episode of homelessness (Table RS.2).
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