Around 1 in every 60 women aged 18 to 19 used a Supported Accommodation Assistance Program (SAAP) service in 2001-02, according to a report released today by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW).
The Commonwealth-State/Territory governments' SAAP program provides accommodation or support services for people who are homeless or at risk of homelessness. Support services can include financial and/or employment services, assistance to obtain or maintain accommodation, or general support such as assistance with living skills or legal issues, retrieval of belongings, and liaison on behalf of the client.
The report, Young Homeless People in Australia 2001-02, focuses on SAAP users aged 12 to 24 years.
Head of the SAAP National Data Collection Agency at the AIHW, Justin Griffin, said that young people in the 18-19 year age group were more likely to use SAAP agencies than any other age group, with women being higher users than men.
'In fact this disparity is seen right across the 12-24 year age span, with females outnumbering males by three to two.'
The report also shows that young people aged 12-24 years were more than twice as likely to use some form of SAAP accommodation or support than people aged 25 years and over.
'For every 10,000 people aged 12-24 years in the population, 98 used SAAP services. The corresponding figure for people aged 25 and over was 47', Mr Griffin said.
More than 34,000 people aged 12-24 years used SAAP support or accommodation out of an estimated 94,600 SAAP clients in 2001-02.
People aged 17 or 18 had the longest periods of support and accommodation of all young people (17 days support and 10 days accommodation respectively for both 17 year olds and 18 year olds). Young clients stay longer in SAAP than older clients, but return less frequently during the year.
Indigenous Australians comprised 16% of SAAP clients aged 12-24 compared with their 3% representation in the Australian population aged 12-24 years. They stayed for shorter periods than other young clients but came back more often.
Approximately 7% of young clients were born in countries where English is not the main language spoken.
Relationship or family breakdown was the main reason for young people seeking assistance, followed by eviction, usual accommodation not available, and domestic violence. For young female clients domestic violence was the most common reason given for seeking assistance, followed by relationship/family breakdown, and eviction.