National Homeless Figures Remain Unchanged
Wednesday, 4th July 2012 at 1:40 pm
The new report has found that young people, women and Indigenous Australians were all overrepresented among those receiving homeless services in the December quarter of 2011 – unchanged from the previous quarter findings.
In Australia, an average of 18,574 people were accommodated by specialist homelessness agencies on any given night in late 2011, according to the latest information on homelessness services by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW)
The AIHW has released the Specialist Homelessness Services Collection – a snapshot of the different groups of people who sought help in the three months to December 2011.
“This includes people who were accommodated in crisis or emergency accommodation, as well as medium-term and long-term accommodation provided to people who were homeless or at risk of homelessness when they sought assistance,” AIHW spokesperson Geoff Neideck said.
“Overall, over 1,700,000 accommodation nights were provided to clients of specialist homelessness agencies in the December quarter 2011.”
The report presents information on all homelessness services from October to December 2011 and shows that an estimated 98,742 clients were assisted by specialist homelessness agencies in the quarter.
The national rate of Australians accessing homelessness services in the December quarter was 44 in every 10,000 people.
Overall, 52 per cent of clients helped by specialist homelessness agencies were categorised as homeless at the beginning of their support period. That is, they were living in a caravan, tent, car, emergency accommodation or an improvised dwelling, were living on the street, or were couch-surfing.
The remaining 48 per cent were ‘at risk of homelessness’ at the beginning of their support period. Around one-third (34 per cent) of these ‘at risk’ clients had been homelessness in the previous year.
Over one-third of all support periods involved providing accommodation to clients. The average length of accommodation provided was 66 nights.
Similar to the September quarter 2011, 18 per cent of clients were aged under 10 and just under half of all clients (48 per cent) were aged under 25. Among those who received assistance, 59 per cent were female and 41 per cent were male. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people represented 21 per cent of clients.
Most people (69 per cent) presented alone to specialist homelessness agencies, with the remainder presenting in groups, such as families with children.
Domestic and family violence was the most common reason for seeking assistance (25 per cent). It was also the most common reason reported by females (34 per cent), while for male clients the most common reasons were financial difficulties and housing crisis (both reasons reported by 18 per cent of male clients).
There were slightly fewer clients living without shelter, or in inadequate dwellings, at the end of support (11 per cent of closed support periods, compared with 14 per cent at the beginning of these support periods).
The AIHW is a major national agency set up by the Australian Government to provide information and statistics on Australia's health and welfare.
Minister for Housing and Homelessness Brendan O'Connor said "Too many Australians are without a home every night and this report will form part of the research that will allow us to measure our progress towards our ambitious goal of halving homelessness by 2020."
"These are confronting figures -almost half of people seeking help are under the age of 25 and almost one in five are under the age of 10," O'Connor said.
"The Federal Government is working with the States and Territories to reduce violence against women and their children, and to find safe accommodation for those experiencing violence.”
The Minister said the Government is committed to halving the overall rate of homelessness by 2020.
"To reach this ambitious goal we have invested an unprecedented $5 billion in additional funding in homelessness since 2008 and we are continuing to forge strong partnerships with the State and Territory governments, and the community and private sectors."