Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (2019) Specialist Homelessness Services annual report 2018–19, AIHW, Australian Government, accessed 02 December 2022.
Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. (2019). Specialist Homelessness Services annual report 2018–19. Retrieved from https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/homelessness-services/shs-annual-report-18-19
Specialist Homelessness Services annual report 2018–19. Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, 18 December 2019, https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/homelessness-services/shs-annual-report-18-19
Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. Specialist Homelessness Services annual report 2018–19 [Internet]. Canberra: Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, 2019 [cited 2022 Dec. 2]. Available from: https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/homelessness-services/shs-annual-report-18-19
Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) 2019, Specialist Homelessness Services annual report 2018–19, viewed 2 December 2022, https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/homelessness-services/shs-annual-report-18-19
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People leaving care arrangements, including people transitioning from health care settings (hospitals, psychiatric hospitals, rehabilitation and aged care facilities) and young people transitioning from out-of-home care (foster care and residential care facilities), can find themselves particularly vulnerable to homelessness. This can be due to inadequate transition planning, undertaking discharge assessments in time- or resource-pressured environments and limited options for exit into suitable and secure housing (Brackertz et al. 2018).
People exiting institutions and care into homelessness are a national priority homelessness cohort identified in the National Housing and Homelessness Agreement which came into effect on 1 July 2018 (See Policy section for more information).
Nationally, over 3,000 young people between the ages of 15 and 17 exit out-of-home care each year (AIHW 2019), corresponding with the end of formal support in the child protection system. The transition from adolescence to young adulthood is a time of significant change as young people prepare themselves for independent living and starting a new life on their own. Young people leaving out-of-home care often face barriers to accessing the same housing, educational and employment opportunities that are readily available to their non-care peers who tend to stay in their parental home (3 in 5 young people aged 18–29 were living at home in 2017) (Wilkins et al. 2019). Findings from a survey on young people transitioning from out-of-home care showed that 35% were homeless in the first year of leaving care (McDowall 2009).
People transitioning from health care settings are also at risk of being discharged into homelessness. In a study of people who have experienced homelessness, 17% had been admitted to hospital for a mental health diagnosis in the previous 2 years (Wood et al. 2016). Discharge from psychiatric hospital in particular has been identified as a key pathway into homelessness among people with mental health issues (Nielssen et al. 2018).
A client is reported as leaving care if in their first support period during 2018–19 (either the week before or at the beginning of the support period):
Their dwelling type was:
Their reason for seeking assistance was:
Note that these categories are part of the broad housing situation ‘Institutional settings’, which also comprises categories relating to Custodial arrangements – see the associated section for information specifically relating to Clients exiting custodial arrangements.
For more information see Technical notes.
In 2018–19 (Table LCARE.1):
Number of clients
Proportion of all clients
Rate (per 10,000 population)
Housing situation at the beginning of the first support period (proportion (per cent) of all clients)
At risk of homelessness
Length of support (median number of days)
Average number of support periods per client
Proportion receiving accommodation
Median number of nights accommodated
Proportion of a client group with a case management plan
Achievement of all case management goals (per cent)
Source: Specialist Homelessness Services Collection 2014–15 to 2018–19.
In 2018–19, of clients leaving care (Supplementary table LCARE.1):
One in 4 clients leaving care identified as Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander (25% or almost 1,600 clients; Supplementary table LCARE.8).
In 2018–19 (Supplementary table LCARE.2):
In 2018–19, among clients leaving care (Supplementary table LCARE.9):
In 2018–19, among clients leaving care (Supplementary table LCARE.11):
SHS clients can face additional vulnerabilities that make them more susceptible to becoming homeless, in particular family and domestic violence, a current mental health issue and problematic drug and/or alcohol use.
In 2018–19, of the 6,400 clients leaving care who were aged 10 and over, 4 in 5 (83%) reported experiencing one or more of these vulnerabilities (Table LCARE.2):
Family and domestic violence
Mental health issue
and/or alcohol use
Source: Specialist Homelessness Services Collection 2018–19.
In 2018–19, the main reasons for seeking assistance among clients leaving care were (Supplementary table LCARE.5):
Housing crisis was the most commonly reported main reason for seeking assistance for clients leaving care who were homeless (19% or over 300 clients) and those who were at risk of homelessness (18% or nearly 900 clients).
Clients leaving care who were homeless at first presentation were more likely to report transition from other care arrangements (16%, compared with 10% at risk) or transition from foster care and child safety residential placements (13%, compared with 6% at risk) as their main reason for seeking assistance (Supplementary table LCARE.6).
Compared with those who were homeless, clients leaving care who were at risk of homelessness were more likely to report mental health issues (10%, compared with 5% homeless) or family and domestic violence (8%, compared with 6%) as the main reason for seeking assistance.
Similar to the overall SHS population, clients leaving care needed general services that were provided by SHS agencies including advice/information, advocacy/liaison on behalf of client and other basic assistance.
Apart from general services, the most common services needed by clients transitioning from care were:
Clients leaving care were more likely than the overall SHS population to need services including:
Outcomes presented here describe the change in clients’ housing situation between the start and end of support. Data is limited to clients who ceased receiving support during the financial year—meaning that their support periods had closed and they did not have ongoing support at the end of the year.
Many clients had long periods of support or even multiple support periods during 2018–19. They may have had a number of changes in their housing situation over the course of their support. These changes within the year are not reflected in the data presented here, rather the client situation at the start of their first support period in 2018–19 is compared with the end of their last support period in 2018–19. A proportion of these clients may have sought assistance prior to 2018–19, and may again in the future.
In 2018–19, for clients leaving care (Table LCARE.3).
These trends demonstrate that housing outcomes following support can be challenging for clients transitioning from institutional settings. While some of these clients progressed towards more positive housing solutions, many remain in institutional settings or return to institutional settings by the end of support. Some clients might only require short-term accommodation immediately after leaving, others might need support to access or maintain housing in the long-term.
Beginning of support
Beginning of support
House, townhouse or flat - couch surfer or with no tenure
Public or community housing - renter or rent free
Private or other housing - renter, rent free or owner
Total at risk
Source: Specialist Homelessness Services Collection 2018–19. Supplementary table LCARE.4.
For clients with a known housing status who were at risk of homelessness at the start of support (almost 3,100 clients), by the end of support (Interactive Tableau visualisation):
A smaller number were experiencing homelessness at the end of support (around 800 clients or 27% of those who started support at risk).
For clients who were known to be homeless at the start of support (just over 1,000 clients), agencies were able to assist:
A further 200 clients (17%) were in public or community housing at the end of support.
AIHW (Australian Institute of Health and Welfare) 2019. Child protection Australia 2017–18. Cat. no. CWS 65. Canberra: AIHW.
Brackertz N, Wilkinson A & Davison J 2018. Housing, homelessness and mental health: towards systems change. Melbourne: Australian Housing and Urban Research Institute.
McDowall JJ 2009. CREATE report card 2009 – Transitioning from care: tracking progress. Sydney: CREATE Foundation. Viewed 3 October 2019.
Nielssen OB, Stone W, Jones NM, Challis S, Nielssen A, Elliott G, Burns N, Rogoz A, Cooper LE & Large MM 2018. Characteristics of people attending psychiatric clinics in inner Sydney homeless hostels, The Medical Journal of Australia 208(4): 169-173.
Wilkins R, Laß I, Butterworth P & Vera-Toscano E 2019. The Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia Survey: selected findings from waves 1 to 17. Melbourne: Melbourne Institute.
Wood L, Flatau P, Zaretzky K, Foster S, Vallesi S & Miscenko, D 2016. What are the health, social and economic benefits of providing public housing and support to formerly homeless people? AHURI Final Report No. 265. Melbourne: Australian Housing and Urban Research Institute Limited.
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