Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (2019) Specialist Homelessness Services annual report 2018–19, AIHW, Australian Government, accessed 01 July 2022.
Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. (2019). Specialist Homelessness Services annual report 2018–19. Retrieved from https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/homelessness-services/shs-annual-report-18-19
Specialist Homelessness Services annual report 2018–19. Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, 18 December 2019, https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/homelessness-services/shs-annual-report-18-19
Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. Specialist Homelessness Services annual report 2018–19 [Internet]. Canberra: Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, 2019 [cited 2022 Jul. 1]. Available from: https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/homelessness-services/shs-annual-report-18-19
Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) 2019, Specialist Homelessness Services annual report 2018–19, viewed 1 July 2022, https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/homelessness-services/shs-annual-report-18-19
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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 ABS 2012). Indigenous Australians are a national priority homelessness cohort in the National Housing and Homelessness Agreement, which came into effect 1 July 2018 (CFFR 2018) (see Policy section for more information).
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people make up 3.2% of the Australian population (ABS 2019), yet they made up 26% of the clients (an estimated 68,900 clients) assisted by specialist homelessness services (SHS) in 2018–19. It is important to note that Indigenous status was not reported for 9% of SHS clients in 2018–19 (similar to 2017–18; 10%).
Over 241,700 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 from 2016–17 to 2018–19 have been:
Number of clients
Proportion of all clients where Indigenous status reported
Rate (per 10,000 population)
Rate difference (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 2016–17 to 2018–19.
In 2018–19 (Supplementary table INDIGENOUS.1):
In 2018–19 (Supplementary table INDIGENOUS.2 and 5):
Over half (55% or 29,800) of Indigenous SHS clients aged 10 years and over reported 1 or more vulnerabilities (i.e. family and domestic violence, mental health issues, or problematic drug and/or alcohol use).
In 2018–19 (Table INDIGENOUS.2):
Family and domestic violence
Mental health issue
and/or alcohol use
Source: Specialist Homelessness Services Collection 2018–19.
Since 2016–17, the number of Indigenous clients seeking assistance from SHS agencies has increased. Key trends identified in this client population are (Table INDIGENOUS.1):
In 2018–19 (Supplementary table INDIGENOUS.6):
The three main reasons why Indigenous clients sought assistance from SHS agencies in 2018–19 were (Supplementary table INDIGENOUS.7):
The need for accommodation assistance was broadly similar between Indigenous and non-Indigenous clients, with the exception of short-term or emergency accommodation.
Other services commonly needed by Indigenous clients during 2018–19 were:
Assistance for family and domestic violence was another frequently requested service (27%), 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 (30% compared with 14%), laundry/shower facilities (25% compared with 10%) and transport (31% compared with 18%).
Outcomes presented here describe the changes in a client’s housing situation between the start and end of support. Data is limited to 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.
Many clients had long periods of support or even multiple support periods during 2018–19. They may have had a number of changes in their housing situation over the course of their support. These changes within the year are not reflected in the data presented here, rather the client situation at the start of their first support period in 2018–19 is compared with the end of their last support period in 2018–19. A proportion of these clients may have sought assistance prior to 2018–19, and may again in the future.
At the end of the reporting period in 2018–19:
These trends demonstrate that by the end of support, many clients have achieved or progressed towards a more positive housing solution. That is, the proportion of clients ending support known to be housed but at risk of homelessness had increased compared with the start of support, and the proportion who were homeless had decreased.
Beginning of support
Beginning of support
House, townhouse or flat - couch surfer or with no tenure
Public or community housing - renter or rent free
Private or other housing - renter, rent free or owner
Total at risk
Source: Specialist Homelessness Services Collection. Supplementary table INDIGENOUS.4.
For clients with a known housing status who were at risk of homelessness at the start of support (almost 23,900 clients), by the end of support (Figure INDIGENOUS.1):
A smaller number were experiencing homelessness at the end of support (2,800 clients or 12% of those who started support at risk of homelessness.
Source: Specialist Homelessness Services Collection, 2018–19
For clients who were known to be homeless at the start of support (almost 19,700 clients), agencies were able to assist (Figure INDIGENOUS.2):
A further 5,200 clients (27%) were couch surfing at the end of support.
ABS (Australian Bureau of Statistics) 2012. Census of population and housing: estimating homelessness, 2011. ABS Cat. no. 2049.0. Canberra: ABS.
ABS 2019. Australian demographic statistics, Mar 2019. ABS Cat. no. 3101.0. Canberra: ABS.
CFFR (Council on Federal Financial Relations) 2018. National Housing and Homelessness Agreement. Viewed 23 January 2019.
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