Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (2019) Specialist homelessness services annual report 2017–18, AIHW, Australian Government, accessed 05 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. 5]. 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 5 July 2022, https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/homelessness-services/specialist-homelessness-services-2017-18
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Older Australians are a national priority homelessness cohort in the National Housing and Homelessness Agreement,  recognising the severe impact homelessness may have on older Australians. During 2017–18, people aged 55 or older comprised 8% (24,100 clients) of all specialist homelessness services (SHS) clients. Specialist homelessness service use by this group is increasing with the number of clients up 33% since 2013–14 (around 18,200 clients).
For the purposes of the Specialist Homelessness Services Collection (SHSC), older people are defined at clients aged 55 years and over. For further information, see Technical notes.
Of the almost 24,100 older clients who received SHS support during 2017–18:
Nearly half (49% or around 11,700) of older clients reported at least one vulnerability, that is, a mental health issue, domestic and family violence or problematic drug and/or alcohol use (Table OLDER.1).
Domestic and family violence
Mental health issue
Problematic drug and/or alcohol use
Source: Specialist Homelessness Services Collection 2017–18.
Since 2013–14, the number of older clients seeking assistance from SHS agencies has increased at a greater rate than other age groups. Key trends identified in this client population over the 5 years to 2017–18 are (Table OLDER.2):
Number of clients
Proportion of all clients (per cent)
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 (per cent)
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 2013–14 to 2017–18.
At the beginning of support, the majority of older clients were at risk of homelessness (67% or about 16,100 clients). One in 3 (33% or 8,000) older clients were homeless when first reporting to SHS agencies for assistance in 2017–18.
The three main reasons why clients within this group sought assistance from SHS agencies in 2017–18 were:
In 2017–18, older SHS clients were less likely to request accommodation services (46%) than the general SHS population (56%), potentially due to the lower proportion of older clients presenting homeless. However, of those who did request accommodation, most needed long-term housing (36%) and they were almost twice as likely as the general SHS population to be provided with this form of accommodation.
Other services most commonly needed by older clients during 2017–18 were:
The outcomes presented in this section examine the changes in a client’s housing situation from the start of support to the 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 were 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 older clients (Figure OLDER.2):
The majority of older clients were housed but at risk of homelessness when they began support (Table OLDER.3). For those older clients who had ended support:
Source: Specialist Homelessness Services Collection 2017–18. National supplementary table OLDER.4.
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