This national report provides an overview of assistance given to clients and their accompanying children by in-scope government-funded specialist homelessness agencies during the 2008–09 financial year. This national report is complemented by state and territory supplementary reports.

The funding to the specialist homelessness agencies covered by this report was provided under the Supported Accommodation Assistance Program (SAAP) from 1 July 2008 to 31 December 2008 and then under the National Affordable Housing Agreement (NAHA) from 1 January 2009 to 30 June 2009. Funding for the National Partnership Agreement on Homelessness (NPAH), which supports the NAHA, did not commence until 1 July 2009. As such, no services funded under NPAH are included in this report.

Data for this report are sourced from the SAAP National Data Collection. Readers should recognise that the changed arrangements implemented midway through the 2008–09 reporting year may affect comparisons with previous years (see Chapter 1). The development and implementation of new services under the revised arrangements has been ongoing. It is not possible to quantify the extent to which services changed or new services were added in the first 6 months of operation of the NAHA, although it is known that these were not extensive. That is, the majority of existing services under SAAP continued.

Changes over time

Figure 1 presents the number of support periods and clients over the 13 years of the SAAP National Data Collection. The number of support periods provided that were in scope of the collection decreased from 220,300 in 2007–08 to 212,400 in 2008–09. The number of clients has remained relatively steady over the same period (125,600 to 125,800).

Midway through the 2008–09 financial year, SAAP was discontinued and replaced by the NAHA. This resulted in some changes in the way the jurisdictions administer the agencies. The impact that the changed arrangements had in the first 6 months of operation is not known, but the number of funded agencies and the number of agencies that were required to participate in the collection decreased (funded agencies from 1,562 in 2007–08 to 1,532 in 2008–09 and participating agencies from 1,444 to 1,433). This was a contributing factor in the decrease in the number of support periods in 2008–09.

As a result of the changes, the number of support periods and the estimated number of clients in 2008–09 cannot be directly compared with the number of support periods and clients in 2007–08. This break in the series makes understanding the trends challenging without further analysis.

A future report by the AIHW, planned for July 2010, will present more detailed analysis, providing information on changing trends in the SAAP National Data Collection.

More details on breaks in the time series, including a description of changes to the collection definitions and reporting practices, can be found in Chapter 9.