Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (2018) Specialist homelessness services annual report 2016–17, AIHW, Australian Government, accessed 09 February 2023.
Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. (2018). Specialist homelessness services annual report 2016–17. Retrieved from https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/homelessness-services/specialist-homelessness-services-2016-17
Specialist homelessness services annual report 2016–17. Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, 12 February 2018, https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/homelessness-services/specialist-homelessness-services-2016-17
Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. Specialist homelessness services annual report 2016–17 [Internet]. Canberra: Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, 2018 [cited 2023 Feb. 9]. Available from: https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/homelessness-services/specialist-homelessness-services-2016-17
Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) 2018, Specialist homelessness services annual report 2016–17, viewed 9 February 2023, https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/homelessness-services/specialist-homelessness-services-2016-17
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Specialist homelessness agencies provide a wide range of services to assist those who are homeless or at risk of homelessness, ranging from general support and assistance to immediate crisis accommodation. This section outlines the characteristics of all clients assisted by specialist homelessness agencies in 2016–17, describes their needs for assistance and the services they received. It also provides some key trends for the 5 years from 2012–13 to 2016–17.
Over 940,000 Australians have been supported by homelessness agencies since the collection began in 2011–12.
The estimated number of clients assisted by agencies each year has increased from 244,176 in 2012–13 to 288,273 in 2016–17. This represents an average annual growth rate of 4.2%.
Because SHSC data provide a measure of the service response, increases in client numbers generally reflect the increased availability and accessibility of services, not necessarily a change in the underlying level of homelessness in Australia. The rate of specialist homelessness service use has increased from 107 people per 10,000 in 2012–13 to 119 in 2016–17 (Supplementary Historical Tables). That is, from 1 in 93 people in the Australian population to 1 in 84.
The characteristics of clients, the main reason for seeking support, and the services provided to clients, have remained relatively stable over the past 5 years (Table Client Trends.1). There have, however, been some notable changes:
49% of clients nationally in 2016–17 were new, first time clients
Support days increased nationally by 1.2 million days in 2016–17 to over 23.4 million
Source: Specialist Homelessness Services Collection 2012–13 to 2016–17.
Data collected by specialist homelessness agencies are based on support periods, or episodes of assistance provided to clients (see Technical information for further information). Clients may have had more than one support period in 2016–17, either with the same agency at different times, or with different agencies.
In 2016–17 more support was provided by homelessness agencies than in 2015–16, and this increase was consistent with agencies assisting more clients.
Source: Specialist homelessness services 2016–17, National supplementary table CLIENTS.19.
Source: Specialist homelessness services 2016–17, National supplementary table CLIENTS.21.
In 2016–17, specialist homelessness agencies provided assistance to an estimated 288,273 clients, equivalent to 1 in 84 people in the Australian population (Supplementary table CLIENTS.2). This represents an increase from 1 in 85 since 2015–16.
Figure CLIENTS.3 illustrates the age and sex distribution of SHS clients in 2016–17:
Source: Specialist homelessness services 2016–17, National supplementary table CLIENTS.1.
In 2016–17, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people continued to be over-represented among specialist homelessness services clients, with a quarter of clients (25%, or 64,600) who provided information on their Indigenous status identified as being of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander origin. By comparison, just 3.3% of the Australian population identify as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders .
Further information about Indigenous clients can be found in Indigenous clients.
The largest number of clients were assisted in Victoria (109,901), followed by New South Wales (74,216) and Queensland (41,438) (Supplementary table CLIENTS.2).
Nationally, the number of SHS clients increased by 3%, or 9,077 clients. This was due to increases in client numbers in Victoria (4%, or 4,614), New South Wales (6%, or 4,501), the Northern Territory (13%, or 1,055) and Western Australia (2%, or 423). Queensland (-3%), South Australia (-1%), Tasmania (-1%) and the Australian Capital Territory (-1%) all reported decreases in client numbers compared with 2015–16.
Note: Rates are crude rates as detailed in Technical information.
Source: Specialist homelessness services 2016–17, National supplementary table CLIENTS.2.
Source: Specialist homelessness services 2016–17, National supplementary table CLIENTS.6
Source: Specialist homelessness services 2016–17, National supplementary table CLIENTS.7.
Note: Top 6 excludes formal referral source ‘Other’.
Source: Specialist homelessness services 2016–17, National supplementary table CLIENTS.9.
Source: Specialist homelessness services 2016–17, National supplementary table CLIENTS.12
In the SHSC, information is captured about clients’ needs for services from 2 perspectives:
Technical information and the Glossary provides more information about how clients’ needs for assistance are captured in the SHSC.
Services provided to clients range from the direct provision of accommodation, such as a bed in a shelter, to specialised services such as counselling and legal support. These services are generally either provided to the client directly by the agency or the client is referred to another service. Unmet demand provides further information about clients’ needs that went unmet.
SHS clients can identify a number of reasons for seeking assistance, reflecting the range of situations that contribute to housing instability.
Source: Specialist homelessness services 2016–17, National supplementary table CLIENTS.13.
While clients can identify a number of reasons for seeking assistance, agencies also record the main reason for seeking assistance.
Source: Specialist homelessness services 2016–17, National supplementary table CLIENTS.14.
Some types of assistance provided by SHS agencies can be described as ‘general support and assistance’ (as opposed to more specialised services). These include advice and information, material aid, meals and living skills.
Note: Top 10 excludes ‘Other basic assistance’.
Source: Specialist homelessness services 2016–17, National supplementary table CLIENTS.15.
Housing and accommodation services provided by agencies include:
In 2016–17, 56% of SHS clients identified a need for accommodation services. Of these nearly 162,000 clients:
The ability of services to provide accommodation has fallen since last year. The proportion of SHS clients in 2016–17 who identified a need for accommodation assistance was the same as in 2015–16 (56%). However, the proportion of these clients who were subsequently provided with accommodation has decreased in 2016–17 (53% compared with 56% in 2015–16).
6.9 million nights of accommodation were provided to clients in 2016–17— fewer than the previous year.
Around 6.9 million nights of accommodation were provided to clients in 2016–17, nearly 90,000 (or 1%) fewer than 2015–16. Total nights of accommodation may represent more than one period of accommodation during 2016–17 (Supplementary table CLIENTS.16) (see Technical information for details on how length of accommodation is calculated).
Assistance to sustain tenancy/prevent eviction was needed by 33% of clients at some stage during their support in 2016–17, the same proportion as the previous year. This group includes those who were still housed when they approached an SHS agency and were supported to remain in that housing. It also includes those who identified a need for accommodation, were assisted to secure new housing and then supported to sustain that housing.
$39.5 million in financial assistance was provided to clients in 2016–17—an increase from the previous year.
A total of $39.5 million in financial assistance was provided to clients in 2016–17 (Figure CLIENTS.13), a 33% increase from the $29.6 million provided in 2015–16.
Over half of the financial assistance was used to assist clients with housing:
Source: Specialist homelessness services 2016–17, National supplementary table CLIENTS.17.
This section looks at 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. The outcomes presented here are examining changes in clients’ situations from the start to the end of all support. Many clients had long periods of support or even multiple support periods during the year. They may have had a number of changes over the course of their support (for example, their housing situation may change a number of times during support). These changes within the year are not reflected in the data presented here, rather the client situation at the start of their first period of support during 2016–17 is compared with the end of their last period of support during the year.
Clients whose support period both opened and closed in 2016–17 accounted for 77% of all clients (Figure CLIENTS.1). A proportion of these clients may seek assistance again in future years.
Three aspects of a client’s housing situation are considered in their housing circumstances: dwelling type, housing tenure, and the conditions of occupancy. See Technical information for details on these categories and their derivation.
These trends demonstrate that by the end of support, many clients have achieved or progressed towards more stable housing. Stable housing, for the purpose of the SHSC, refers to clients ending support in public or community housing (renter or rent free), private or other housing (renter, rent free or owner), or Institutional settings.
Source: Specialist homelessness services 2016–17, National supplementary table CLIENTS.22.
While overall housing outcome figures reflect trends towards more stable housing for many clients, there are differences in stable housing achievement for homeless and at risk clients. In general terms, agencies were very successful in preventing those at risk of homelessness from becoming homeless by working to sustain and maintain existing tenancies or establishing new tenancies. For those clients who were homeless, agencies were able to assist those clients into temporary accommodation and sometimes into social or private housing.
The majority of clients presenting to SHS services were housed, but at risk of homelessness. Housing outcomes at the end of support for these clients at risk of homelessness on presentation were favourable (Table Client.2):
For clients who were homeless on presentation (Table Client.2):
Source: Specialist homelessness services 2016–17, National supplementary table CLIENTS.22
Specialist homelessness agencies may support clients in a number of non-housing areas to reduce their vulnerability to homelessness. These include changes in educational enrolment status, labour force status and income.
Note: Proportions include only clients with closed support at the end of the reporting period.
Source: Specialist homelessness services 2016–17, National supplementary table CLIENTS.24.
SHS agencies often provide services to clients aged 15 and over needing assistance to obtain/maintain a government payment or employment assistance.
Source: Specialist homelessness services 2016–17, National supplementary table CLIENTS.25.
Case management plans enable agency workers to assist a client to work towards agreed goals. In some cases, support periods are too short to allow for a case management plan (for example, when a client stays for a 24-hour period or less); in other cases, a client may decline a case management plan. Case management approaches can differ across jurisdictions and over time as policy and practices change.
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