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 in Australia provide assistance to thousands of people each day. In 2016–17, on average, each day an estimated 59,900 people were supported. However, there were also people who approached agencies who were unable to be offered any assistance. These people may have approached more than one agency or returned to the same agency another day. An instance where no assistance is received by a person who approaches a service is referred to as an ‘unassisted request for service’. Only a limited amount of data are collected in these instances.
There may be a range of reasons an agency cannot assist a person. For example, the person may be seeking a specialised service not offered by that particular agency or the agency may not have the capacity to provide assistance at that time. The person may not be in the target group for the agency. These people may be referred to another agency for assistance, but the SHSC does not currently capture this activity. See Technical information and Glossary for information on the way in which unassisted requests for services are measured in the SHSC.
There was an average of 261 instances of unassisted requests for services each day, across Australia in 2016–17.
This section presents information on unmet demand from 2 perspectives:
The SHSC captures only limited information about unassisted requests for services, because it is not always appropriate for specialist homelessness agencies to collect the same level of detailed information as they would if the person became a client.
In 2016–17, there were an estimated 95,000 requests for assistance that were unable to be met. This represents a decrease of 5% from last year. Some key trends in unmet demand since 2012–13 have been:
— Rounded to zero
Source: Specialist Homelessness Services Collection 2013–14 to 2016–17
Analysis of how often a person requested assistance and how many later became clients of specialist homelessness agencies can only be examined where sufficient information is gathered to allow the experience of the client followed through time (about half (49%) of all unassisted requests). In 2016–17, on average, each person who was not assisted, approached an agency 1.5 times, the same average as in 2015–16.
In 2016–17, 46% of persons with sufficient information went on to become clients and receive services during the year, similar to the proportion in 2015–16 (47%). The outcomes for the remaining 54% are not known—they may have received assistance from a non-SHS service, used their own support networks or continued to experience unstable housing.
On average, across Australia there were 261 requests per day which could not be met:
Compared with 2015–16, in 2016–17:
Source: Specialist homelessness services 2016–17, National supplementary table UNMET.1.
On average, 72% of daily unassisted requests included a need for some type of accommodation support.
Source: Specialist homelessness services 2016–17, National supplementary table UNMET.5.
Over 9 in 10 (93%) daily unassisted requests for services from single persons with children were for accommodation needs, compared with 63% for single persons without children (Figure UNASSISTED.3).
Source: Specialist homelessness services 2016–17, National supplementary table UNMET.6.
Most commonly, agencies reported that they could not meet requests for accommodation because there was no accommodation available at the time of the request (48% of unmet requests for accommodation) (Supplementary table UNMET.7). This figure is similar to 2015–16 (50%).
On fewer than 1 in 10 occasions, a person did not accept the service offered (8%).
Clients receiving support from specialist homelessness services are often identified as needing a wide range of services. Some needs arise more than once in a support period and this makes it difficult to assess (from the available data) the extent to which they have been met. In this section, each client need and the services to meet that need are only identified once in each support period.
Accommodation was the most common need identified by clients. In 2016–17, over half (56%) of all clients needed at least 1 type of accommodation service.
Source: Specialist homelessness services 2016–17, National supplementary table CLIENTS.15.
Some types of needs were able to be met by the agency for a significant proportion of clients. For example, of the nearly 153,000 clients who needed assistance for advocacy/liaison, 97% were provided assistance, and of the clients requesting material brokerage (nearly 102,000), 86% were provided with assistance (Supplementary table CLIENTS.15).
Other types of client needs were less commonly met. For example, among those clients who required gambling counselling (less than 1%, or under 1,000 clients), the level of unmet need was substantial—around 35% of clients either not being provided or referred to gambling counselling. This may be related to the specialist skills required to provide gambling counselling and the limited availability of these skills within the SHS agencies and other services that clients may be referred to.
The level of need for broad groups of specialised services is shown in Figure UNMET NEED.2.
Note: Unmet includes ‘Not provided or referred’.
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