Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (2019) Specialist Homelessness Services annual report 2018–19, AIHW, Australian Government, accessed 02 February 2023.
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 2023 Feb. 2]. 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 2 February 2023, https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/homelessness-services/shs-annual-report-18-19
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Specialist homelessness services (SHS) in Australia supported, on average, an estimated 65,800 people each day in 2018–19. However, there were also people who approached agencies who were unable to be offered any assistance. 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, the agency may not have the capacity to provide assistance at that time or the person may not be in the target group for the agency.
Identifying unassisted requests for services in the Specialist Homelessness Services Collection (SHSC)
Unassisted requests for services are instances where a person requests assistance from a SHS agency and receives no assistance at the time of request. The SHSC captures limited information about unassisted requests for services, as it is not always appropriate for an agency to collect the same detailed information as they would if the person became a client. See Technical information for more information on measuring unassisted requests in the SHSC.
Across Australia, there were around 92,300 unassisted requests in 2018–19:
Some key trends in unassisted requests since 2014–15 include:
Sex (per cent)
Living arrangement (per cent)
Couple with child(ren)
Couple without children
Other family group
Source: Specialist Homelessness Services Collection 2014–15 to 2018–19.
Analysis of how often a person requested assistance and how many later became SHS clients can only be examined and understood where the statistical linkage key (SLK) was complete and valid (just over half (53%) of all unassisted requests). In 2018–19, on average, each unassisted person approached an agency 1.7 times, a similar average to 2017–18 (1.5 times).
In 2018–19, 45% of people with a valid SLK later went on to become clients and received services during the year, similar to 2017–18 (47%). The service use experience for the remaining 55% were unknown; they may have received assistance from a non-SHS service, used their own support networks or continued to experience unstable housing or homelessness. Alternatively, these people may go on to become clients in future years.
Note: Per cent calculations based on total daily average unassisted requests, excluding where sex unknown.
Source: Specialist Homelessness Services Collection 2018–19, Supplementary table UNMET.4.
More than 9 in 10 (95%) daily unassisted requests for services from single parents with children were for accommodation needs (short-term accommodation and other housing assistance), compared with 69% for lone persons (Figure UNASSISTED.2).
Source: Specialist Homelessness Services Collection 2018–19, Supplementary table UNMET.5.
Most commonly, agencies reported that they could not meet requests for any accommodation because there was no accommodation available at the time of the request (Supplementary table UNMET.6). On fewer than 1 in 10 occasions (8%), a person did not accept the service offered.
Clients receiving support from SHS agencies often need a wide range of services. Some needs arise more than once in a support period and this makes it difficult to assess the extent to which the need has been met from the available data.
Reporting unmet need for services in the Specialist Homelessness Services Collection (SHSC)
Unmet need is recorded when an SHS client has some, but not all, their identified needs for services met. Agencies can also refer clients to another service for assistance.
Accommodation was the most common need identified by SHS clients in 2018–19; over half (58%) of all clients needed at least one type of accommodation service (Figure UNMET NEED.1):
Source: Specialist Homelessness Services Collection 2018–19, Supplementary table CLIENTS.18.
An agency was able to meet the general needs of many clients. For example, of the over 227,300 clients who needed advice/information, 98% were provided assistance, and of the almost 160,200 clients requesting advocacy/liaison, 96% were provided with assistance (Supplementary table CLIENTS.18).
Other types of client needs were less commonly met. For example, among those SHS clients who required professional legal services (3% or almost 9,600 clients), the level of unmet need was substantial, around 29% at the end of support. This may be because of the specialist skills required to provide legal services and the limited availability of these skills within the SHS agencies and other referral services offered to clients.
The level of unmet need for broad groups of specialised services can be determined (Figure UNMET NEED.2):
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