Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (2019) Specialist homelessness services annual report 2017–18, AIHW, Australian Government, accessed 01 July 2022.
Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. (2019). Specialist homelessness services annual report 2017–18. Retrieved from https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/homelessness-services/specialist-homelessness-services-2017-18
Specialist homelessness services annual report 2017–18. Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, 13 February 2019, https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/homelessness-services/specialist-homelessness-services-2017-18
Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. Specialist homelessness services annual report 2017–18 [Internet]. Canberra: Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, 2019 [cited 2022 Jul. 1]. Available from: https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/homelessness-services/specialist-homelessness-services-2017-18
Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) 2019, Specialist homelessness services annual report 2017–18, viewed 1 July 2022, https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/homelessness-services/specialist-homelessness-services-2017-18
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Care and protection orders (CPOs) are legal orders or arrangements that place some responsibility for a child’s welfare with child protection authorities. They set up arrangements to provide support and assistance for vulnerable children and young people to protect them from abuse, neglect or other harm, or where their parents are unable to provide adequate care or protection . Young people are a national priority homelessness cohort in the National Housing and Homelessness Agreement , which came into effect as of 1 July 2018.
AIHW’s Child protection Australia annual report showed that in 2016–17 around 168,000 children in Australia were receiving child protection services and of them, around 64,000 were on a care and protection order (approximately 1 in 85 children aged 0–17). The rates of children on care and protection orders has continued to rise, increasing from 8 per 1,000 population to 10 per 1,000 population between 2012–13 and 2016–17. This increase may not necessarily reflect an increase in abuse, neglect or harm but could indicate an increase in community awareness, a greater willingness to report suspected cases for investigation and/or changes to the legislation and definitions .
For the purposes of the Specialist Homelessness Services Collection (SHSC), a client is identified as being under a care or protection order if they are aged under 18 and they were under a care and protection order and had the following care arrangements in any support period in the reporting period:
Of the 8,700 SHS clients aged 0–17 on a CPO in 2017–18:
The majority of clients on a CPO (64% or over 2,500 clients) aged 10 and over presenting to SHS agencies reported additional vulnerabilities (Table CPO.1):
Domestic and family violence
Mental health issue
Problematic drug and/or alcohol use
Source: Specialist Homelessness Services Collection 2017–18.
In 2017–18, 8,700 children aged 0–17 who were SHS clients were identified as having a care and protection order (3% of all SHS clients). That is, 1 in 10 clients aged 0–17 years receiving assistance from a SHS agency were on a CPO (Table CPO.2). There was little change in client numbers between 2015–16 and 2017–18. Given changes to the collection of CPO data, 2017–18 data cannot be directly compared with data prior to 2015–16 (see Technical notes).
Over the three years, clients on a CPO:
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)
In 2017–18, age and age-related variables were derived using a more robust calculation method. Data for previous years have been updated with the improved calculation method for age. As such, data prior to 2017–18 contained in the SHS Annual Report may not match that contained in the SHS Annual Report Historical Tables.
Source: Specialist Homelessness Services Collection 2015–16 to 2017–18.
Care arrangement type refers to the type of living arrangement a child on a CPO can be placed into. This can include a wide range of living arrangements including living with family or relatives, foster or residential care or independent living.
The most common type of care arrangement for clients on a CPO was parents (62% or almost 5,400 clients).
The most common care type for Indigenous clients on a CPO was parents (56% or 1,800 clients); lower than for non-Indigenous clients (64% or 3,400 clients). Indigenous clients on a CPO were more likely than non-Indigenous clients to have care type arrangements of relative(s)/kin who are reimbursed (14% compared with 11%) and family group home (7% compared with 3%).
At the beginning of support, half of the clients on a CPO were homeless (51% or 4,400 clients). A similar proportion of clients on a CPO (49% or 4,200 clients) were at risk of homelessness when first reporting to SHS agencies for assistance in 2017–18.
While clients can identify a number of reasons for seeking assistance, agencies also record the main reason for seeking assistance:
Nearly 7 in 10 clients on a CPO needed accommodation services (69% or 6,000 clients), higher than the general SHS population (56%) (Supplementary Table CPO.3).
Other general services most commonly needed by these clients were advocacy/liaison on behalf of client (68%), material aid/brokerage (45%), assistance for domestic/family violence (40%) and transport (37%). Higher proportions of clients on a CPO needed these services compared with clients in the general SHS population (54%, 36%, 32% and 20%, respectively).
CPO clients were also more likely than all SHS clients to report needing family/relationship assistance (37% compared with 18%), child protection services (27% compared with 5%), school liaison (17% compared with 5%) and assistance for trauma (25% compared with 12%).
The outcomes presented in this section examines the changes in clients’ housing situations from the start to end of support. Only clients who ceased receiving support by the end of the financial year are included in this section—meaning their support periods had closed and they did not have ongoing support at the end of the 2017–18 reporting period. However, it is important to note that a proportion of these clients may seek assistance from SHS agencies again in the future.
For 5,700 children on care and protection orders who had finished support (Figure CPO.1):
Of those clients who were housed but at risk of homelessness at the beginning of support (that is, living in either public or community housing (renter or rent-free), private or other housing (renter or rent-free), or in institutional settings) (Table CPO.3):
Of those clients who were homeless (that is, living either with no shelter or improvised/inadequate dwelling, short-term temporary accommodation, or in a house, townhouse, or flat with relatives (rent-free)) when they began SHS support (Table CPO.3):
Source: Specialist Homelessness Services Collection 2017–18, National supplementary table CPO.4.
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