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, nearly 41,000 clients with a current mental health issue accessed accommodation services in 2018–19, a rate of 186.1 clients per 100,000 population—which is lower than the rate for clients without a current mental health issue (216.9) (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 (316.5 and 1,410.8 per 100,000 population, respectively). Similar accommodation service use rates for clients with and without a current mental health issue were observed for New South Wales (162.2 and 136.7 per 100,000 population) and Victoria (262.5 and 232.4).

Figure SHS.5: SHS clients with and without a current mental health issue, accomodation service use, states and territories, 2018-19.

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.

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Source data: Specialist homelessness services tables (1.3MB XLS)

The population rate of clients with a current mental health issue accessing accommodation services has continued to increase since 2011–12 (Figure SHS.6), with an average annual increase of 3.5% from 2014–15 to 2018–19. The rate for clients without a current mental health issue has decreased an average of 2.2% each year over the same period.

Figure SHS.6: SHS clients with and without a current mental health issue, accommodation service use, 2011-12 to 2018-19.

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.

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Source data: Specialist homelessness services tables (1.3MB 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, 198.1 clients per 100,000 population with a current mental health issue and 451.9 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 (178.6 and 1,696.8, respectively), followed by Victoria (322.9 and 769.3), while Tasmania had the smallest difference in rates (174.2 and 175.7) (Figure SHS.7).

Figure SHS.7: SHS clients with and without a current mental health issue, other support service use, states and territories, 2018-19.

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.

Visualisation not available for printing

Source data: Specialist homelessness services tables (1.3MB XLS)

The population rate of clients with a current mental health issue accessing other (non-accommodation) services increased over the period 2011–12 to 2018–19 (Figure SHS.8) with an average annual increase of 9.4% from 2014–15 to 2018–19. The rate of clients without a current mental health issue accessing other (non-accommodation) services decreased annually at an average of 0.7% during the same period.

Figure  SHS.8: SHS clients with and without a current mental health issue, other support service use, 2011-12 to 2018-19.

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.

Visualisation not available for printing

Source data: Specialist homelessness services tables (1.3MB XLS)

Services and assistance

Of the nearly 86,500 SHS clients with a current mental health issue in 2018–19, almost all received a service or referral (around 84,500 or 97.7%). The most common service or assistance provided was Advice/information (90.2%), followed by Other basic assistance (76.7%), Advocacy/liaison on behalf of client (69.9%) and Material aid/brokerage (44.9%).

Length of support

In 2018–19, clients with a current mental health issue received longer periods of support than clients without a current mental health issue overall—about 3 in 5 (62.1%) received support for longer than 45 days, including almost a quarter (24.7%) who received support for longer than 180 days (6 months) (Figure SHS.9). By contrast, almost than 3 in 5 (59.2%) clients without a current mental health issue received support for 45 days or shorter, and 11.6% received support for longer than 180 days. These figures represent the total length of support provided to a SHS client during 2018–19.

Figure SHS.9: SHS clients with and without a current mental health issue, by total length of support provided, 2018-19.

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.

Visualisation not available for printing

Source data: Specialist homelessness services tables (1.3MB 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 2018–19, nationally there were 932.8 support periods per 100,000 population for SHS clients with a current mental health issue. Victoria had the highest rate of support periods (1,852.6 per 100,000 population), followed by Tasmania (1,573.2) and the Northern Territory (919.5).

Nationally, the rate of support periods (per 100,000 population) increased between 2014–15 and 2018–19 at an annual average rate of 7.4%. The amount of change varied between jurisdictions, ranging from an annual average decrease of 6.7% in the Australian Capital Territory to an increase of 14.2% in New South Wales.