Special services helped thousands of homeless Australians
ALMOST 230,000 Australians spent at least one night in a homeless shelter in 2011-12, new data from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare revealed on Tuesday.
The figures showed specialist homelessness services - the front line groups who helped house those in need - provided more than 7 million nights of accommodation last financial year.
While most Australians who needed a roof over their heads last year only needed it for a short time, 19,000 people were accommodated for around 82 nights.
Of those seeking help, about 60% needed longer-term accommodation and 40% needed short-term or emergency accommodation.
Institute spokesman Geoff Neideck said the services were not just a bed for the night, with 28% of those seeking help just needing some help with keeping their tenancies.
Among all clients, 44% were already homeless when they began receiving support, and 14% of these clients were living without shelter.
More than half of all those getting support (at 56%) were at risk of homelessness when they got help.
"Overall, 52% of clients experienced homelessness at some point during the period they were supported," Mr Neideck said.
Men who were already homeless when they got help were twice as likely as women to sleep without shelter, at 19% and 9% respectively.
The report also confirmed domestic violence remained a leading cause of homelessness in Australia, with one third of all clients experiencing domestic of family violence.
Women were most likely to be seeking help after domestic violence, at 78%, while about one-fifth of all those supported after family violence were younger than 10 years.
Homelessness Australia chairwoman Narelle Clay said the young age of many people seeking help was a concern, but there was positive news in the report as well.
"While the number of people supported remains high, the positive news is that services assisted 128,378 people who were at risk of homelessness to address the issues placing them at risk and to remain stably housed," she said.
"The data shows that in the overwhelming majority of cases clients were able to have their support needs met."
Ms Clay said the report showed community services across the nation were meeting the average demand, but more still needed to be done.
She said if the nation could secure more investment in social housing and support services, the Federal Government's target to halve homelessness by 2020 could be achieved.
"We can get ourselves on track to halve homelessness by 2020 with a view to ending it in the long run," she said.
Australians accessing homeless services, 2011-12:
- QLD: 42,930 people
- NSW: 53,532 people
- AUST: 230,000 people
Where they got help in 2011-12:
- 60% in major cities
- 24% in inner regional areas
- 12% in outer regional areas
- 5% in remote and very remote areas
SOURCE: Australian Institute Health and Welfare, 2012.