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Report

People in short-term or emergency accommodation: a profile of Specialist Homelessness Services clients

4 Mar 2019
Description

On Census night in 2016, around 21,200 Australians were in supported accommodation for the homeless (ABS 2018)—living in hostels for the homeless, night shelters, or refuges. This number has increased over the past decade, from around 17,300 in supported accommodation for the homeless in the 2006 Census. These estimates, derived from the Census, are likely to underestimate the extent of homelessness, and there are no data available to determine the magnitude of the underestimation (ABS 2018).

This report presents, for the first time, a comprehensive analysis of people experiencing homelessness in Australia living in short-term or emergency accommodation, over a 4 year period, using the Specialist Homelessness Services Collection (SHSC).

Those in short-term or emergency accommodation were more likely to be female, aged 15–34, not in the labour force and present alone

As a group, the 20,400 clients in short-term or emergency accommodation who sought the assistance of specialist homelessness services (SHS) upon their first presentation to services in 2011–12, had different demographic characteristics to all other adult SHS clients (136,200). More than half (54% or 11,000) were female compared with 63% (85,800) of other SHS clients; almost half (48% or 9,700) reported they were living alone, compared with 36% (36,900) of other SHS clients, and most (92% or 17,700) were unemployed or not in the labour force, compared with 87% (82,300) of other SHS clients.

Analysis of the service use patterns of clients in short-term or emergency accommodation in 2011–12 revealed 3 cohorts

  • Persistent service users: 2,900 clients (or 14% of clients in short-term or emergency accommodation) accessed services every financial year from 2011–12 to 2014–15.
  • Service cyclers: 8,800 clients (or 43% of clients in short-term or emergency accommodation) accessed services in 2 or 3 years of the 4-year period.
  • Transitory service users: 8,700 clients (or 43% of clients in short-term or emergency accommodation) accessed services in 2011–12 only.

Service use increases with increasingly complex needs

Those in short-term or emergency accommodation showed increasing service use according to their needs or ‘vulnerability conditions’. In this analysis, vulnerability is based on whether someone had ever reported: a mental health issue, problematic drug and/or alcohol use, and/or domestic or family violence.

Publication Details
Identifiers: 
isbn: 
978-1-76054-488-1 (PDF)
Language: 
English
License Type: 
CC BY
Published year only: 
2019
171
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