Clients leaving care

Those who are not in stable accommodation after leaving health or social care arrangements are particularly vulnerable to homelessness. Clients are identified as leaving care if in their first support period during the reporting period (either the week before or at the beginning of the support period):

  • their dwelling type was: hospital, psychiatric hospital or unit, disability support, rehabilitation, aged care facility, or
  • their reason for seeking assistance was: transition from foster care/child safety residential, or transition from other care arrangements.

In 2014–15, over 6,000 clients or 2% of specialist homelessness service clients were identified as leaving care.

Clients leaving care: trends over time

The proportion of clients leaving care and seeking assistance from specialist homelessness services has remained relatively stable over the 4 years of the SHS collection to 2014–15. Key trends identified in this client population over these 4 years are:

  • Taking into account changes in population size, the rate of service use by clients leaving care has increased.
  • While males consistently made up the majority of clients leaving care the age of these clients has increased; the age group with the highest proportion has moved from 25–34 to 35–44 years.

Table 1: Clients leaving care: at a glance—trends over time

  2011–12 2012–13 2013–14 2014–15
Number of clients (proportion of all clients) 4,654 (2%) 5,542 (2%) 5,573 (2%) 6,084 (2%)
Rate (per 10,000 population) 2.1 2.4 2.4 2.6
Housing situation at the beginning of first support period (all clients)
Homeless: At risk of homelessness 28%: 72% *33%: 67% 33%: 67% 32%: 68%
Living arrangement
Lone person 58% 56% 57% 59%
Sole parent 10% 11% 11% 10%
Couple with child/ren 2% 3% 3% 3%
Couple without children 1% 2% 2% 2%
Other family 6% 6% 7% 8%
Other group 23% 21% 21% 19%
Main reason for seeking assistance (Top 4)
Housing crisis 11% 12% 13% 20%
Transition from other care arrangements 15% 12% 13% 13%
Transition from foster care and child safety residential placements n.a. 10% 9% 8%
Mental health issues 11% 9% 9% 9%
Proportion receiving accommodation (median (nights)) 59% (38) 57% (45) *54% (48) 52% (44)
Number of support periods(average per client) 8,038 (1.7) 10,207 (1.8) 9,548 (1.7) 11,170 (1.8)
Average (median) length of support (days) 103 (52) 122 (62) *120 (62) 109 (58)
Proportion of a client group with a case management plan 67% *69% *71% 71%
Achievement of all case management goals 16% 15% *16% 19%

n.a. Not available.


  1. Rates are crude rates based on the Australian estimated resident population (ERP) at 30 June of the reference year.

  2. * Indicates where previously published data have been revised to ensure consistent reporting over time. 2011–12 data were revised in December 2013 but not previously reported in this format.

  3. The denominator for the proportion achieving all case management goals is the number of client groups with a case management plan. Denominator values for proportions are provided in the relevant National supplementary table.

Source: Specialist homelessness services Annual Reports 2011–12, 2012–13, 2013–14 and 2014–15.

In 2014–15 changes occurred in the way agencies are required to report ‘main reason’ and ‘reasons for seeking assistance’. Comparisons over time should be made with caution as the reporting of housing crisis, financial difficulties and housing affordability stress may be inconsistent between agencies. See Technical information for further details.

Characteristics of clients leaving care 

  • Of clients leaving care, 1 in 5 was leaving a psychiatric hospital (22%), with the next most common being hospital (16%) or rehabilitation (15%). The definition of clients leaving care (for the purposes of the SHSC) also includes those seeking assistance for transitioning care (27% of clients).
  • The majority of those clients leaving care in 2014–15 were males (56%) and 22% of the male clients were aged 35–44 years. Female clients tended to be younger with nearly 1 in 4 aged 18–24 (24%).

Services needed and provided


of all clients leaving care arrangements needed short term or emergency accommodation.

  • A higher proportion of clients leaving care requested medium term/transitional housing (40%) compared with the broader SHS population (27%) and these clients were more likely to be provided with accommodation (44% of those who requested it).
  • Long-term housing was also commonly identified as a need for this client group (40%), but this was only able to be provided to 8% of those clients who needed it.
  • Other services most commonly needed by these clients were material aid/brokerage (42%), transport (39%) and living skills/personal development (37%).

Housing outcomes

For those clients leaving care and with closed support periods:

  • Fifty-three per cent (or over 2,200 clients) were living in institutional settings at the beginning of their support (Table LCARE.4). This proportion decreased to 23% at the end of support.
  • Almost one-third (31%, or nearly 1,300 clients) were classified as homeless at the beginning of their support period, with the majority living in short-term temporary accommodation (57%).
  • At the end of support the proportion of clients classified as homeless had increased (38%, or over 1,400) clients). This increase most likely reflects clients leaving institutional settings and becoming homeless.