Clients exiting custodial arrangements

This section highlights findings in relation to clients who have recently exited custodial settings, including correctional facilities, youth justice detention centres and immigration detention centres (see Technical information for client definition). People who exit custodial settings are recognised as being at increased risk of homelessness. The ability to secure stable housing may reduce the likelihood of reoffending [1].

  • In 2014–15, 6,866 clients (3% of all clients of specialist homelessness clients) were identified as clients exiting from a custodial setting.
  • The majority of clients who exited custodial settings in 2014–15 were male (78%) and aged between 25 and 44 (60%).

Clients exiting custodial arrangements: trends over time

Since the beginning of the SHS collection in 2011–12 the number of people exiting custodial arrangements and seeking assistance from specialist homelessness services has been increasing. Key trends identified in this client population over these 4 years are:

  • Both the proportion of clients receiving accommodation and the length of their accommodation (median) have declined for clients recently exiting custodial arrangements.
  • Housing outcomes at the end of support for this client group have not improved over time; while fewer clients ended support in institutional settings and more ended support housed in short term accommodation each year, the proportion of clients in these groups combined, has remained the same over time.
  • The proportion of these clients achieving all case management goals was lower than the broader SHS population every year; this group was one of the lowest achieving groups in the SHS population on this measure.

Table 1: Clients exiting custodial arrangements: at a glance—trends over time

  2011–12 2012–13 2013–14 2014–15
Number of clients (proportion of all clients) 5,132 (2%) 6,399 (3%) 6,756 (3%) 6,866 (3%)
Rate (per 10,000 population) 2.3 2.8 2.9 2.9
Housing situation at the beginning of first support period (all clients)
Homeless: At risk of homelessness 33%: 67% *36%: 64% *27%: 73% 31%: 69%
Living arrangement
Lone person 61% 61% 68% 67%
Sole parent 5% 5% 5% 5%
Couple with child/ren 2% 2% 2% 2%
Couple without children 2% 2% 2% 2%
Other family 5% 5% 4% 4%
Other group 26% 25% 19% 20%
Main reason for seeking assistance (Top 3)
Transition from custodial arrangements 56% 57% 59% 55%
Housing crisis 6% 7% 8% 15%
Inadequate or inappropriate dwelling conditions 4% 5% 5% 5%
Proportion receiving accommodation (median (nights)) 45% (31) 41% (29) *40% (28) 41% (27)
Number of support periods (average per client) 8,710 (1.7) 11,709 (1.8) *11,841 (1.8) 12,506 (1.8)
Average (median) length of support (days) 80 (34) 96 (46) *95 (53) 84 (46)
Proportion of a client group with a case management plan 53% *58% *53% 50%
Achievement of all case management goals 15% 10% *11% 16%


  1. Rates are crude rates based on the Australian estimated resident population (ERP) at 30 June of the reference year.

  2. * Indicates where previously published data have been revised to ensure consistent reporting over time. 2011–12 data were revised in December 2013 but not previously reported in this format.

  3. The denominator for the proportion achieving all case management goals is the number of client groups with a case management plan. Denominator values for proportions are provided in the relevant national supplementary table.

Source: Specialist homelessness services Annual Reports 2011–12, 2012–13, 2013–14 and 2014–15.

Services needed and provided

  • Of those with an identified need for short-term or emergency housing (45%, or about 3,000), almost 3 in 4 (73%) were provided it. Similarly, 91% of the clients leaving care needing assistance to sustain tenancy or prevent tenancy failure or eviction received this assistance.
  • Clients leaving custodial care were more likely to need assistance with drug/alcohol counselling (12%) than all homeless clients (4%).

Housing outcomes

  • At the beginning of support, the majority of clients exiting custodial care were living in institutions (60%), short-term or emergency accommodation (12%) or house, townhouse or flat—‘couch surfer’ or with no tenure (8%).
  • The proportion of clients exiting custodial arrangements who reported living in institutional settings decreased to 40% at the end of support.
  • One in 5 clients (22%) was housed in short term temporary accommodation at the end of support, up from 12% at the beginning of support.


  1. Australian Government 2008. The road home: a national approach to reducing homelessness. Canberra: Commonwealth of Australia.