In Australia, homelessness agencies accommodate a large number of people every day. However, they cannot always meet requests for accommodation. When a valid request for accommodation cannot be met, the requestor is referred to as having been ‘turned away’.

This report presents data on the people turned away from government-funded specialist homelessness accommodation in 2009–10. The data indicate that government-funded specialist homelessness agencies are operating to capacity and are unable to completely meet the demand for their accommodation. Some groups, such as families, experience more difficulty than others in obtaining accommodation.

When new requests for accommodation are considered on any given day, 58% of all people who sought immediate accommodation were turned away. New requests, however, comprise only 4% of the total demand for accommodation. When new requests plus all people currently in accommodation are considered, 2% of all people who sought immediate accommodation were newly accommodated on any given day and 2% were turned away.

The rate of turn-away was similar to that reported in recent years.

There are several caveats surrounding the data presented in this report (see Box 1.1). These are related to policy and service delivery arrangements; agency coverage; the period surveyed; and the exclusion of data from Victoria.