Key concepts

Specialist Homelessness Services

Key concept Description
Accommodation services Accommodation services include short-term or emergency accommodation, medium-term/transitional housing, assistance to obtain long term housing, assistance to sustain tenancy or prevent tenancy failure or eviction and assistance to prevent foreclosures or for mortgage arrears.
At risk of homelessness

Clients are considered to be at risk of homelessness if they are living in any of the following circumstances:

  • Public or community housing (renter or rent free):
    • dwelling type is house/townhouse/flat and tenure type is renter or rent-free public housing, renter or rent-free-community housing.
  • Private or other housing (renter, rent-free or owner):
    • dwelling type is house/townhouse/flat and tenure type is renter-private housing, life tenure scheme, owner―shared equity or rent/buy scheme, owner-being purchased/with mortgage, owner-fully owned, rent-free-private/other housing.
  • Institutional settings:
    • dwelling  type is hospital, psychiatric hospital, disability support, rehabilitation, boarding school, adult correctional facility, youth/juvenile justice detention centre or immigration detention centre.
Client

A specialist homelessness agency client is a person who receives a specialist homelessness service. A client can be of any age. Children are also clients if they receive a service from a specialist homelessness agency.

To be a client the person must directly receive a service and not just be a beneficiary of a service.

Children who present with an adult and receive a service are considered to be a client; children of a client or other household members who present but do not directly receive a service are not considered to be clients. 

Client with a current mental health issue

SHS clients with a current mental health issue are identified as such if they have provided any of the following information: 

  • they indicated at the beginning of a support period they were receiving services or assistance for their mental health issues, or had received them in the last 12 months; 
  • their formal referral source to the specialist homelessness agency was a mental health service;
  • they reported ‘mental health issues’ as a reason for seeking assistance;
  • their dwelling type either a week before presenting to an agency, or when presenting to an agency, was a psychiatric hospital or unit;
  • they had been in a psychiatric hospital or unit in the last 12 months; 
  • at some stage during their support period, a need was identified for psychological services, psychiatric services or mental health services.
Homeless

The client’s homeless status at the beginning and end of their support.

Clients are considered to be homeless if they are living in any of the following circumstances:

  • No shelter or improvised dwelling:
    • includes where dwelling type is no dwelling/street/park/in the open, motor vehicle, improvised building/dwelling, caravan, cabin, boat or tent; or tenure type is renting or living rent-free in a caravan park.
  • Short-term temporary accommodation:
    • dwelling type is boarding/rooming house, emergency accommodation, hotel/motel/bed and breakfast; or tenure type is renting or living rent-free in boarding/rooming house, renting or living rent-free in emergency accommodation or transitional housing.
  • House, townhouse or flat (couch surfing or with no tenure):
    • tenure type is no tenure; or conditions of occupancy is couch surfing.
Other support services Other support services refer to the assistance, other than accommodation services, provided to a client. They include domestic/family violence services, mental health services, family/relationship assistance, disability services, drug/alcohol counselling, legal/financial services, immigration/cultural services, other specialist services and general assistance and support.
Specialist homelessness agency A specialist homelessness agency is an organisation which receives government funding to deliver specialist homelessness services to a client. These can be either not-for-profit and for profit agencies.
Specialist homelessness service(s) Specialist homelessness service(s) is assistance provided by a specialist homelessness agency to a client aimed at responding to or preventing homelessness. The specialist homelessness services in scope for this collection include accommodation provision, assistance to sustain housing, mental health services, family/relationship assistance, disability services, drug/alcohol counselling, legal/financial services, immigration/cultural services, domestic/family violence services, other specialist services and general assistance and support. 
Support period

A support period is the period of time a client receives assistance from an agency.  A support period starts on the day the client first receives a service from an agency and ends when:

  • the relationship between the client and the agency ends,
  • the client has reached their maximum amount of support the agency can offer, or
  • a client has not received any services from the agency for a whole calendar month and there is no ongoing relationship.

Alternative text for Specialised homelessness services figures

Figure SHS.1

Vertical bar graph showing SHS clients with a current mental health issue per 100,000 population for each state/territory and nationally in 2018–19. Rates: NSW 359.9; Vic 603.2; Qld 261.7; WA 266.5; SA 373.8; Tas 672.4; ACT 415.0; NT 499.4; National total 393.4. Refer to Table SHS.1. Back to figure SHS.1.

Figure SHS.2

Line graph showing SHS clients with a current mental health issue per 100,000 population from 2011–12 to 2018–19 for each state/territory and nationally. The rates show an overall increase over time, with the exception of the ACT. Rates: NSW: 2011–12, 216.4; 2012–13, 217.9; 2013–14, 240.9; 2014–15, 237.2; 2015–16, 332.6; 2016–17, 356.4; 2017–18, 348.0; 2018–19, 359.9. Vic: 2011–12, 302.4; 2012–13, 347.9; 2013–14, 420.3; 2014–15, 482.8; 2015–16, 509.0; 2016–17, 539.2; 2017–18, 573.8; 2018–19, 603.2. Qld: 2011–12, 199.4; 2012–13, 210.3; 2013–14, 218.5; 2014–15, 243.4; 2015–16, 238.8; 2016–17, 235.9; 2017–18, 251.0; 2018–19, 261.7. WA: 2011–12, 187.1; 2012–13, 186.2; 2013–14, 182.3; 2014–15, 218.2; 2015–16, 228.1; 2016–17, 244.1; 2017–18, 247.7; 2018–19, 266.5. SA: 2011–12, 172.2; 2012–13, 192.3; 2013–14, 248.2; 2014–15, 292.3; 2015–16, 309.2; 2016–17, 335.1; 2017–18, 347.1; 2018–19, 373.8. Tas: 2011–12, 331.6; 2012–13, 350.6; 2013–14, 469.8; 2014–15, 542.2; 2015–16, 608.9; 2016–17, 629.4; 2017–18, 630.0; 2018–19, 672.4. ACT: 2011–12, 426.4; 2012–13, 496.2; 2013–14, 517.8; 2014–15, 537.1; 2015–16, 516.3; 2016–17, 467.8; 2017–18, 440.5; 2018–19, 415.0. NT: 2011–12, 423.6; 2012–13, 387.4; 2013–14, 320.1; 2014–15, 379.2; 2015–16, 496.5; 2016–17, 520.1; 2017–18, 538.3; 2018–19, 499.4. National total: 2011–12, 227.7; 2012–13, 242.8; 2013–14, 276.8; 2014–15, 305.7; 2015–16, 345.5, 2016–17, 364.0; 2017–18, 374.9; 2018–19, 393.4. Refer to Table SHS.1 Back to figure SHS.2

Figure SHS.3

Horizontal bar chart showing SHS clients with and without a current mental health issue per 100,000 population by age group 2018–19. Rates for clients with a current mental health issue: 10–14, 242.4; 15–17, 755.0; 18–24, 689.8; 25–34, 505.6; 35–44, 592.7; 45–54, 431.6; 55–64, 186.5; 65+, 42.6. Rates for clients without a current mental health issue: 10–14, 999.9; 15–17, 1,290.5; 18–24, 1,043.2; 25–34, 907.1; 35–44, 935.1; 45–54, 656.6; 55–64, 352.0; 65+, 170.8. Refer to Table SHS.2. Back to figure SHS.3

Figure SHS.4

Horizontal bar chart showing per cent of SHS clients with and without a current mental health issue by main reason for seeking assistance 2018–19. Clients with a current mental health issue: Housing crises, 21.8; Domestic and family violence, 19.5; Inadequate or inappropriate dwelling conditions, 11.9; Financial difficulties, 9.4; Housing affordability stress, 6.5; Relationship/family breakdown, 6.3; Previous accommodation ended, 4.5; Mental health issues, 4.3; Transition from custodial arrangements, 3.3; Time out from family/other situation, 1.4. Clients without a current mental health issue: Housing crises, 19.1; Domestic and family violence, 27.9; Inadequate or inappropriate dwelling conditions, 10.1; Financial difficulties, 13.9; Housing affordability stress, 6.3; Relationship/family breakdown, 3.7; Previous accommodation ended, 3.7; Transition from custodial arrangements, 2.3; Time out from family/other situation, 1.5. Refer to Table SHS.5. Back to figure SHS.4

Figure SHS.5

Vertical bar chart showing SHS clients with and without a current mental health issue per 100,000 population by state/territory who received accommodation services in 2018–19. Rates for clients with a current mental health issue: NSW 162.2; Vic 262.5; Qld 146.5; WA 156.5; SA 173.5; Tas 490.5; ACT 222.5; NT 316.5; Total 186.1. Rates for clients without a current mental health issue: NSW 136.7; Vic 232.4; Qld 215.5; WA 300.2; SA 260.4; Tas 403.3; ACT 164.5; NT 1,410.8, Total 216.9. Refer to Table SHS.7. Back to figure SHS.5

Figure SHS.6

Line graph showing SHS clients with and without a current mental health issue per 100,000 population who received accommodation services, nationally, 2011–12 to 2018–19. The rates show an overall increase in clients with a mental health issue and an overall decrease for clients without a mental health issue. Rates for clients with a mental health issue: 2011–12, 133.0; 2012–13, 140.9; 2013–14, 149.5; 2014–15, 161.9; 2015–16, 175.1; 2016–17, 179.5; 2017–18, 179.7; 2018–19, 186.1. Rates for clients without a mental health issue: 2011–12, 267.9; 2012–13, 279.9; 2013–14, 253.8; 2014–15, 237.2; 2015–16, 241.4; 2016–17, 233.4; 2017–18, 219.0; 2018–19, 216.9. Refer to Table SHS.8. Back to figure SHS.6

Figure SHS.7

Vertical bar graph showing SHS clients with and without a current mental health issue per 100,000 population by state/territory who received other (non-accommodation) services in 2018–19. Rates for clients with a current mental health issue: NSW 188.3; Vic 322.9; Qld 111.0; WA 108.7; SA 200.3; Tas 174.2; ACT 172.4; NT 178.6; Total 198.1. Rates for clients without a current mental health issue: NSW 344.1; Vic 769.3; Qld 277.6; WA 332.7; SA 424.4; Tas 175.7; ACT 249.7; NT 1,696.8; Total 451.9. Refer to Table SHS.7. Back to figure SHS.7.

Figure SHS.8

Line graph showing SHS clients with and without a current mental health issue per 100,000 population who received other (non-accommodation) services, nationally, 2011–12 to 2018–19. The rates show an overall increase for clients with a mental health issue accessing these services. Rates for clients with a mental health issue: 2011–12, 81.5; 2012–13, 98.7; 2013–14, 122.8; 2014–15, 138.1; 2015–16, 164.1; 2016–17, 177.5; 2017–18, 188.0; 2018–19, 198.1. Rates for clients without a mental health issue: 2011–12, 411.6; 2012–13, 475.6; 2013–14, 488.1; 2014–15, 464.9; 2015–16, 493.2; 2016–17, 493.8; 2017–18, 475.1; 2018–19, 451.9. Refer to Table SHS.8. Back to figure SHS.8

Figure SHS.9

Horizontal bar chart showing the per cent of SHS clients with and without a current mental health issue by the length of support provided in 2018–19. Clients with a current mental health issue: up to 5 days, 12.6; 6–45 days, 25.3; 46–90 days, 17.6; 91–180 days, 19.8; over 180 days, 24.7. Clients without a current mental health issue: up to 5 days, 28.8; 6–45 days, 30.3; 46–90 days, 15.7; 91–180 days, 13.5; over 180 days, 11.6. Refer to Table SHS.10. Back to figure SHS.9