This report finds that housing availability and affordability is the greatest unmet need for clients of welfare services, followed by community-based care and treatment for mental illness and emergency relief.
Summary of key findings
Housing still the highest priority for clients and policy makers
• 66% of housing and homeless services report struggling to meet demand.
• Over 60% of overall respondents listed housing and homelessness services amongst those for which their clients had the highest need.
• 61% of all respondents said improving housing availability and affordability is the top policy priority.
• 62% said waiting times for services had increased since the previous 12 months.
• Services reported a 16% turn-away rate, up 5% from 2010/11.
Legal services turn away one-fifth of all clients in need
• 63% of legal service providers reported not being able to meet demand for services, and legal services ranked second highest on inability to meet demand.
• 20% of all clients in need of assistance from surveyed community legal services were turned away in 2011/12, the highest turn-away rate across all service types.
• 85% of legal services reported having targeted their services more tightly or limiting service levels to meet demand.
• 67% reported being underfunded and 59% said they had increased waiting times for services.
• 76% of services asked staff and volunteers to work additional hours in attempt to meet demand.
Youth Services also report extremely high turn-away rates
• Youth services reported the second highest client turn-away rate of 17% - almost 8% up on the previous year.
• 52% could not meet demand.
• 65% required staff or volunteers to work longer hours and targeted services more tightly or limited service levels to meet demand.
Mental health services, emergency relief in high need, yet struggle to meet demand
• 57% identified mental health services as ‘high need', while 40% identified emergency relief
• Increasing the availability of mental health services was the third highest policy priority for the sector's clients.
• Over 80% of emergency relief providers agreed that the cost of service delivery exceeded revenue and reported targeting services more tightly or limiting service levels to meet demand.
• 70% of mental health services also reported targeting services more tightly to meet demand.