Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (2016) Specialist homelessness services 2015–16, AIHW, Australian Government, accessed 06 July 2022.
Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. (2016). Specialist homelessness services 2015–16. Retrieved from https://pp.aihw.gov.au/reports/homelessness-services/specialist-homelessness-services-2015-16
Specialist homelessness services 2015–16. Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, 15 December 2016, https://pp.aihw.gov.au/reports/homelessness-services/specialist-homelessness-services-2015-16
Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. Specialist homelessness services 2015–16 [Internet]. Canberra: Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, 2016 [cited 2022 Jul. 6]. Available from: https://pp.aihw.gov.au/reports/homelessness-services/specialist-homelessness-services-2015-16
Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) 2016, Specialist homelessness services 2015–16, viewed 6 July 2022, https://pp.aihw.gov.au/reports/homelessness-services/specialist-homelessness-services-2015-16
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Specialist homelessness agencies provide a wide range of services to assist those who are homeless or at risk of homelessness, ranging from general support and assistance to immediate crisis accommodation. This section outlines the characteristics of all clients assisted by specialist homelessness agencies in 2015–16, describes their needs for assistance and the services they received. It also provides some key trends for the 5 years from 2011–12 (the start of the Specialist Homelessness Services Collection-SHSC) to 2015–16.
clients have been supported by homelessness agencies between 2011–12 and 2015–16.
The estimated number of clients assisted by agencies each year has increased from 236,000 in 2011–12 to 279,000 in 2015–16. This represents an average annual growth rate of 4.2%.
Because SHSC data provide a measure of the service response, increases in client numbers generally reflect the increased availability and accessibility of services, not necessarily a change in the underlying level of homelessness in Australia. The rate of specialist homelessness service use has increased since the start of the collection from 106 people per 10,000 in 2011–12 to 117 in 2015–16 (Supplementary historical tables). That is, from 1 in 95 people in the Australian population to 1 in 85.
The characteristics of clients, the main reason for seeking support, and the services provided to clients, have remained relatively stable over the 5 years. There have, however, been some notable changes:
Source: Specialist Homelessness Services Collection 2011–12 to 2015–16.
Data collected by specialist homelessness agencies are based on support periods, or episodes of assistance provided to clients (see Technical information for further information). Clients may have had more than one support period in 2015–16, either with the same agency at different times, or with different agencies.
In 2015–16 more support was provided by homelessness agencies than in 2014–15, and this increase was consistent with agencies assisting more clients.
Source: Specialist Homelessness Services 2015–16, National supplementary table CLIENTS.19
3 in 10
clients (29%) received over 90 days support.
In 2015–16, clients were suppoted for an average of 79 days in total, either as consecutive days or over multiple periods of support. This is up from 76 days in 2014–15. The median number of support days has also increased over this time period (from 33 to 35 days).
Source: Specialist Homelessness Services 2015–16, National Supplementary Table CLIENTS.21.
In 2015–16, specialist homelessness agencies provided assistance to an estimated 279,196 clients, equivalent to 1 in 85 people in the Australian population (Supplementary Table CLIENTS.2). This represents an increase since 2014–15, from 1 in 92.
6 in 10
clients were female (59%, or almost 166,000).
Nearly 3 in 10
clients were aged under 18 (28%, or nearly 79,000).
1 in 6
were children under the age of 10 (16%, or nearly 46,000 clients).
Clients aged 25–34
were the largest age group (19%).
Source: Specialist Homelessness Services 2015–16, National Supplementary Table CLIENTS.1.
1 in 4
clients were Indigenous.
Further information about Indigenous clients can be found in the Indigenous clients section.
Note: Rates are crude rates as detailed in Technical information.
Source: Specialist Homelessness Services 2015–16, National Supplementary Table CLIENTS.6.
1 in 3
people (34%) who sought assistance from Specialist Homelessness Services were living in private or other housing (renter, rent free or owner) at the time.
Source: Specialist Homelessness Services 2015–16, National Supplementary Table CLIENTS.7.
Note: Top 6 excludes formal referral source ‘Other’.
Source: Specialist Homelessness Services 2015–16, National Supplementary Table CLIENTS.9.
Source: Specialist Homelessness Services 2015–16, National Supplementary Table CLIENTS.12.
In the SHSC, information is captured about clients' needs for services from 2 perspectives:
Technical information and glossary provides more information about how clients' needs for assistance are captured in the SHSC.
Services provided to clients range from the direct provision of accommodation, such as a bed in a shelter, to specialised services such as counselling and legal support. These services are generally either provided to the client directly by the agency or the client is referred to another service. The Unmet demand section provides further information about clients' needs that went unmet.
were identified by over half of clients (56%, or nearly 155,000) as a reason for seeking assistance.
Source: Specialist Homelessness Services 2015–16, National Supplementary Table CLIENTS.13.
While clients can identify a number of reasons for seeking assistance, agencies also record the main reason for seeking assistance.
Source: Specialist Homelessness Services 2015–16, National Supplementary Table CLIENTS.14.
Some types of assistance provided by SHS agencies can be described as 'general support and assistance' (as opposed to more specialised services). These include advice and information, material aid, meals and living skills.
Note: Top 10 excludes 'Other basic assistance'.
Source: Specialist Homelessness Services 2015–16, National Supplementary Table CLIENTS.15.
Housing and accommodation services provided by agencies include:
In 2015–16, 56% of SHS clients identified a need for accommodation services. Of these 157,000 clients:
The proportion of SHS clients in 2015–16 who identified a need for accommodation assistance was the same as 2014–15 (56%).
However, the proportion of these clients who were subsequently provided with accommodation has decreased in 2015–16 (56% compared with 60% in 2014–15).
Nearly 7.0 million nights of accommodation were provided to clients in 2015–16, about 0.4 million (or 6%) more than 2014–15. Total nights of accommodation may represent more than one period of accommodation during 2015–16 (Supplementary Table CLIENTS.16) (see Technical information for details on how length of accommodation is calculated).
Assistance to sustain tenancy/prevent eviction was needed by 33% of clients at some stage during their support period in 2015–16. This group includes those who were still housed when they approached an SHS agency and were supported to remain in that housing. It also includes those who identified a need for accommodation, were assisted to secure new housing and then supported to sustain that housing.
Note: Excludes 'Other specialised service'.
in financial assistance was provided to clients in 2015–16, an average of $520 per client requesting financial assistance, and an increase from the previous year ($468, unadjusted for inflation).
Source: Specialist Homelessness Services 2015–16, National Supplementary Table CLIENTS.17.
This section looks at clients who ceased receiving support during the year—their support periods had closed and they did not have ongoing support at the end of the year. The outcomes presented here are changes in clients' situations with reference to the start and end of support. Many clients had long periods of support or multiple support periods during the year and they may have had a number of changes over the course of their support (for example, their housing situation may change a number of times during support). These changes within the year are not reflected in the data presented here.
Clients whose support period both opened and closed in 2015–16 accounted for 77% of all clients (Figure CLIENTS.1). A proportion of these clients may seek assistance again in 2016–17.
clients (32%, or nearly 57,000) were homeless when support ended, a decrease from 44% at the start of support.
Three aspects of a client's housing situation are considered in their housing circumstances: dwelling type, housing tenure, and the conditions of occupancy. See Technical information for details on these categories and their derivation.
These trends demonstrate that by the end of support, many clients have achieved or progressed towards more stable housing.
1 in 5
clients (20%) who needed employment assistance were employed at the end of support.
Specialist homelessness agencies may support clients in a number of non-housing areas to reduce their vulnerability to homelessness. These include changes in educational enrolment status, labour force status and main source of income.
Note: Proportions include only clients with closed support at the end of the reporting period.
Source: Specialist Homelessness Services 2015–16, National Supplementary Table CLIENTS.24.
SHS agencies often provide services to clients aged 15 and over needing assistance to obtain/maintain a government payment or employment assistance.
Source: Specialist Homelessness Services 2015–16, National Supplementary Table CLIENTS.25.
Case management plans enable agency workers to assist a client to work towards agreed goals. In some cases, support periods are too short to allow for a case management plan; in other cases, a client may decline a case management plan. Case management approaches can differ across jurisdictions and over time as policy and practices change.
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