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Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (2019) Specialist homelessness services annual report 2017–18, AIHW, Australian Government, accessed 09 December 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 Dec. 9]. 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 9 December 2022, https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/homelessness-services/specialist-homelessness-services-2017-18
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Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are more likely than non-Indigenous Australians to experience insecure housing, live in overcrowded dwellings and experience homelessness, including intergenerational homelessness. They continue to be over-represented in both the national homeless population and as users of specialist homelessness services (see Clients, services and outcomes and ). Indigenous Australians are a national priority homelessness cohort in the National Housing and Homelessness Agreement , which came into effect 1 July 2018.
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people make up 3.2% of the Australian population , yet they made up 25% of the clients (an estimated 65,200 clients) assisted by specialist homelessness services in 2017–18. It is important to note that Indigenous status was not reported for 10% of specialist homelessness services (SHS) clients in 2017–18 (similar to 2016–17; 9%).
Of the 65,200 Indigenous clients who received services in 2017–18:
Indigenous clients may be facing any number of challenges when they present to a SHS agency for assistance, specifically domestic and family violence, mental health issues and problematic drug and/or alcohol use. Over half (56%) of Indigenous clients reported 1 or more of these vulnerabilities (Table INDIGENOUS.1), less than non-Indigenous clients (63%).
Almost 2 in 5 Indigenous clients (37% of Indigenous clients aged 10 and over or 18,600 clients) reported domestic and family violence. Almost 4,400 clients (9%) reported experiencing both domestic and family violence and mental health issues, while almost 2,300 clients (4%) reported experiencing mental health issues and drug/alcohol problems. Just over 2,300 Indigenous clients (5%) reported all three vulnerabilities (domestic and family violence, mental health issues and problematic drug and/or alcohol use)—similar rates to non-Indigenous clients (3%).
Domestic and family violence
Mental health issue
Problematic drug and/or alcohol use
Source: Specialist Homelessness Services Collection 2017–18.
Over 213,300 Indigenous clients have been supported by homelessness agencies since the Specialist Homelessness Services Collection (SHSC) began in 2011–12. The number of Indigenous clients has been steadily increasing over this time. The key trends identified over the past 3 years have been:
Number of clients
Proportion of all clients where Indigenous status reported
Rate (per 10,000 population)
Remoteness rate (per 10,000 population)
Housing situation at the beginning of 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 2015–16 to 2017–18.
At the beginning of support, the majority of Indigenous clients were housed but at risk of homelessness (53%) when first reporting to a SHS agency for assistance, the remainder (47%) were homeless (Table INDIGENOUS.2).
The need for accommodation assistance was broadly similar between Indigenous and non-Indigenous clients, with the exception of short-term or emergency accommodation (Figure INDIGENOUS.1). Half of Indigenous clients (51% or 33,200) needed short-term or emergency accommodation, compared with 36% (or 70,100) of non-Indigenous clients. Two-thirds of those Indigenous clients with the need for short-term or emergency accommodation received this support (67%); a higher proportion than non-Indigenous clients (56%).
Advice/information (80%), advocacy/liaison (58%) and material aid/brokerage (40%) were some of the most sought after general services for Indigenous clients. The majority of clients with these needs were provided with these services (99%, 97% and 88% respectively). Assistance for domestic and family violence was another frequently requested service (28%), with 90% of clients with this need having such assistance provided.
For some general services, needs were higher for Indigenous clients when compared with non-Indigenous clients, including meals (29% compared with 14%), laundry/shower facilities (25% compared with 11%) and transport (32% compared with 19%).
The outcomes presented in this section examine 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 Indigenous clients (Supplementary table INDIGENOUS.4):
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):
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 INDIGENOUS.3):
Situation at beginning of support
Source: Specialist Homelessness Services Collection 2017–18, National supplementary table INDIGENOUS.4 .
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