Services accessed by clients with a current mental health issue

Service types

Following presentation to an SHS agency, clients may receive Accommodation services , Other support services (excluding accommodation services), a combination of both, or no services or referrals provided.

Nationally, about 38,000 clients with a current mental health issue accessed accommodation services in 2016–17, a rate of 180.2 clients per 100,000 population—which is lower than the rate for clients without (236.5) (Figure SHS.5). This pattern was also seen in Queensland, Western Australia, South Australia, and the Northern Territory. The Northern Territory had the largest difference in the rates of accommodation service use between clients with and without a current mental health issue (339.9 per 100,000 population and 1,503.1, respectively). Similar accommodation service use rates for clients with and without a current mental health issue were observed for New South Wales (178.7 and 167.7, per 100,000), Victoria (239.7 and 236.8), Tasmania (458.0 and 442.1) and the Australian Capital Territory (248.9 and 232.2).

Source data: Specialised homelessness services tables (753KB XLS)

The population rate of clients with a current mental health issue accessing accommodation services increased over the period 2011–12 to 2016–17 (Figure SHS.6) with an average annual increase of 6.3% from 2012–13 to 2016–17. The rate for clients without a current mental health issue has decreased an average of 4.4% each year over the same period.

Source data: Specialised homelessness services tables (753KB XLS)

For other (non-accommodation) types of support services, clients with a current mental health issue accessed services at a lower rate than clients without, both nationally and in all states/territories. Nationally, 178.0 clients per 100,000 population with a current mental health issue and 497.8 clients without accessed other services. The largest difference in rates of other support service use between clients with and without a current mental health issue occurred in the Northern Territory (177.7 and 1,379.5, respectively), followed by Victoria (286.8 and 882.2) (Figure SHS.7).

Source data: Specialised homelessness services tables (753KB XLS)

The population rate of clients with a current mental health issue accessing other (non-accommodation) services increased over the period 2011–12 to 2016–17 (Figure SHS.8) with  an average annual increase of 15.9% from 2012–13 to 2016–17. The rate of clients without a current mental health issue accessing other (non-accommodation) services increased annually at an average of 1.0% during the same period.

Source data: Specialised homelessness services tables (753KB XLS)

Services and assistance

Of about 78,000 SHS clients with a current mental health issue in 2016–17, almost all received a service or referral (about 76,000 or 98.1%). The most common service or assistance provided was Advice/information (90.0%), followed by Other basic assistance (76.7%), Advocacy/liaison on behalf of client (68.4%) and Material aid/brokerage (45.1%).

Length of support

In 2016–17, clients with a current mental health issue received longer periods of support than clients without a current mental health issue overall—more than half (59.9%) received support for longer than 45 days, including almost a quarter (23.4%) who received support for longer than 180 days (6 months) (Figure SHS.9). By contrast, more than 3 in 5 (62.5%) clients without a current mental health issue received support for 45 days or shorter, with 10.4% receiving support for longer than 180 days. These figures represent the total length of support provided to a client during 2016–17.

Source data: Specialised homelessness services tables (753KB XLS)

Service provision

Episodes of assistance provided by SHS agencies are referred to as support periods and clients may have one or more during a reporting period, either at the same agency at different times or with different agencies.

In 2016–17, nationally there were 865.0 support periods per 100,000 population for SHS clients with a current mental health issue. Victoria had the highest rate of support periods (1,653.0 per 100,000 population), followed by Tasmania (1,531.5) and the Northern Territory (952.4).

Nationally, the rate of support periods (per 100,000 population) increased between 2012–13 and 2016–17 at an annual average rate of 10.5%. The amount of change varied between jurisdictions, ranging from an annual average increase of 1.3% in Queensland to 27.1% in Tasmania.