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Report on Government Services 2023

PART G, SECTION 19: Released on 24 JANUARY 2023

19 Homelessness services

This section focuses on specialist homelessness services funded by government under the National Housing and Homelessness Agreement (NHHA). The NHHA came into effect from 1 July 2018, replacing the National Affordable Housing Agreement and the associated National Partnership Agreement on Homelessness. Other non-specialist homelessness services are not included in this Report.

The Indicator results tab uses data from the data tables to provide information on the performance for each indicator in the Indicator framework. The same data are also available in CSV format.

Data downloads

  • Context
  • Indicator framework
  • Indicator results
  • Indigenous data
  • Explanatory material

Objectives for specialist homelessness services

Specialist homelessness services aim to promote wellbeing and independence for people who are homeless or at risk of homelessness, by providing assistance that supports them to achieve and maintain housing and social and economic participation. Governments seek to achieve these aims through funding specialist homelessness services to deliver transitional supported accommodation and a range of related support services that:

  • are accessible
  • identify and address individuals’ needs as appropriate
  • are of high quality, provided by qualified staff in a safe environment.

Governments aim for specialist homelessness services to meet these objectives in an equitable and efficient manner.

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Service overview

Government and non‑government specialist homelessness services deliver a range of services to clients — including supported accommodation, counselling, advocacy, links to housing, health, education and employment services, outreach support, brokerage and meals services, and financial and employment assistance.

Accessing homelessness services in Australia

Systems for the assessment, intake, referral and ongoing case management of specialist homelessness services clients vary across states and territories, ranging from agency-based to centralised management models. This variation may affect data comparability for specific performance indicators. Three broad summary categories are identified here — table 19.1 summarises the intake and referral systems used in each jurisdiction and identifies the category with which they most closely align.

  • Community sector funding and support — Assessment of client needs and intake into services is managed by individual specialist homelessness service providers in line with State or Territory policies. Referral to other service providers is made if clients’ needs are not able to be met by the initial provider. These systems may be supported by a coordinating service that links clients to local specialist homelessness service providers. Coordinating services may also make an initial assessment of clients’ needs (but do not provide homelessness services directly).
  • Central information management — Assessment of client needs, intake and referral is managed by any specialist homelessness service provider using State/Territory central information management tools. The central information management system supports the identification of appropriate services for the client and indicates the availability/vacancy of those services across specialist homelessness service providers. Client information may be shared between providers upon referral (with client consent).
  • Central intake — Assessment of client needs, intake and referral is managed by one or more ‘central intake’ agencies. Central intake agencies prioritise client access to services and, for specialist homelessness services, only refer clients as services and/or vacancies are available. Central information management tools may be used to share information between central intake agencies and specialist homelessness service providers.
Table 19.1 Jurisdictional homelessness intake and referral systems
State/
Territory

System name

Description

Categorya

NSW

Link2home

Assessment and referral for homelessness services may be conducted by: 1) any specialist homelessness service provider; 2) the Link2home information and referral service; or 3) the NSW Domestic Violence Line.

It is supported by a centralised service directory and vacancy management system.

Central information

Vic

Opening Doors

Place‑based entry points operate across 17 local areas to provide assessment and coordinate intake into homelessness services, with a 24 hour response.

Central intake

Qld

Queensland Homelessness Information Platform

Assessment and referral for homelessness services is conducted by any specialist homelessness service provider.

The information platform provides a consistent assessment, referral and prioritisation process.

Central information

WA

Entrypoint Perth

Provides:
- information, assessment and referral to specialist homelessness service providers in the metropolitan area
‑ information on accommodation and support options in regional WA
‑ information, assessment and referral to specialist homelessness service providers for individuals and families experiencing domestic violence in regional WA

Community sector funding and support

SA

Homeless
2 Home

Provides client assessment, intake, referral and ongoing case management system accessible to specialist homelessness service providers.

Central information

Tas

Housing connect

Client intake and referral is managed using a ‘front door’ model by two organisations at seven offices across the State and clients receive housing and/or homelessness assistance and are connected to support from five organisations for the duration of need. Referrals to and from crisis accommodation are made so that ‘no wrong door’ access is available to all people seeking housing and/or homelessness assistance. A shared information system streamlines the integrated Housing Connect model.

Central intake

ACT

OneLink

OneLink is the single intake and referral provider for the ACT. OneLink undertakes initial assessment, prioritisation of clients, and allocation to available vacancies in homelessness accommodation and/or support. OneLink does not undertake case management. It manages a waiting list for those who cannot be immediately assisted and provides information and advice. Brokerage funding is available to assist those in urgent need of help including those who cannot be immediately accommodated in a service.

Central intake

NT

SupportLinkNT

SupportLinkNT provides a fully managed referral service to NT Government Departments and Non‑Government Organisations to refer consenting clients to Non‑Government Organisations and other Government agencies for social support issues. All Specialist Homelessness Services undertake client referrals and assessments.

Central information

The category provided is the most closely aligned to the jurisdictions intake and referral system. Each State and Territory’s intake and referral system has its own characteristics.

Source: State and Territory governments.

Roles and responsibilities

The NHHA aims to contribute to an effective homelessness service that responds to and supports people who are homeless or at risk of homelessness to achieve and maintain housing and address the incidence and prevalence of homelessness (COAG 2018).

State and Territory governments are responsible for day-to-day delivery of services.

Government funded specialist homelessness services are jointly funded by the Australian Government and State and Territory governments, via NHHA funding (Homelessness component — matched equally between the Australian Government and State and Territory governments).

Funding

Direct expenditure on specialist homelessness services is undertaken by State and Territory governments. Recurrent government expenditure on specialist homelessness services in 2021-22 was $1.3 billion (or $51.86 per person in the population; table 19A.1) — 96.7 per cent of which was provided to agencies to deliver specialist homelessness services. The remaining 3.3 per cent was attributed to State and Territory government administration costs (table 19A.1).

Size and scope

Population

Data on the prevalence of homelessness are sourced from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS 2018). Nationally in 2016, approximately 49.8 Australians per 10 000 people in the population were homeless on Census night — an increase of 4.6 per cent from 2011 (table 19A.2).

According to the ABS definition of homelessness, there are six homeless operational groups (rates are provided in table 19A.2). The proportion of the homeless population in each group varies. In 2016, people living in supported accommodation provided by specialist homelessness service providers comprised approximately 18.3 per cent of the homeless population. The majority of homeless people were ‘persons living in severely crowded dwellings’ (43.8 per cent) (see sub‑section 19.4 for what constitutes ‘severely crowded’). Similar proportions of homeless people were staying temporarily in other households (15.3 per cent) and in boarding houses (15.1 per cent). Only 7.0 per cent of homeless people were in improvised dwellings, tents or sleepers out and 0.6 per cent were in other temporary lodgings on Census night 2016 (table 19A.2).

Services

The performance indicator framework provides information on equity, effectiveness and efficiency, and distinguishes the outputs and outcomes of homelessness services.

The performance indicator framework shows which data are complete and comparable in this report. For data that are not considered directly comparable, text includes relevant caveats and supporting commentary. Section 1 discusses data comparability and completeness from a Report-wide perspective. In addition to the contextual information for this service area (see Context tab), the Report’s statistical context (section 2) contains data that may assist in interpreting the performance indicators presented in this section.

Improvements to performance reporting for specialist homelessness services are ongoing and include identifying data sources to fill gaps in reporting for performance indicators and measures, and improving the comparability and completeness of data.

Outputs

Outputs are the actual services delivered (while outcomes are the impact of these services on the status of an individual or group) (see section 1). Output information is also critical for equitable, efficient and effective management of government services.

Outcomes

Outcomes are the impact of services on the status of an individual or group (see section 1).

Performance indicator framework diagram showing equity, effectiveness and efficiency output indicators and outcome indicators, and shows comparability and completeness of indicators. Details described in text below.

Text version of indicator framework

Performance — linked to Objectives

Outputs
  • Equity — Access
    • Access of selected equity groups to homelessness services – most recent data for all measures are comparable and complete
  • Effectiveness — Access
    • Unmet demand for homelessness services – most recent data for all measures are either not comparable and/or not complete
  • Effectiveness — Appropriateness
    • Addressing client needs – most recent data for at least one measure are comparable and complete
  • Effectiveness — Quality
    • Client satisfaction – no data reported and/or no measures yet developed
    • Achieving quality standards – no data reported and/or no measures yet developed
  • Efficiency
    • Cost per day of support – most recent data for all measures are either not comparable and/or not complete
Outcomes
  • Economic participation – most recent data for all measures are comparable and complete
  • Avoidance of homelessness – most recent data for all measures are comparable and complete
  • Achievement of sustained housing – most recent data for all measures are comparable and complete

A description of the comparability and completeness is provided under the Indicator results tab for each measure.

This section presents an overview of 'Homelessness services' performance indicator results. Different delivery contexts, locations and types of clients can affect the equity, effectiveness and efficiency of homelessness services.

Information to assist the interpretation of these data can be found with the indicators below and all data (footnotes and data sources) are available for download above as an excel spreadsheet and as a CSV dataset. Web references to the AIHW data quality statements for the specialist homelessness services collection are available in the relevant data table. Data tables are identified by a ‘19A’ prefix (for example, table 19A.1).

Specific data used in figures can be downloaded by clicking in the figure area, navigating to the bottom of the visualisation to the grey toolbar, clicking on the 'Download' icon and selecting 'Data' from the menu. Selecting 'PDF' or 'Powerpoint' from the 'Download' menu will download a static view of the performance indicator results.

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1. Access of selected equity groups to homelessness services

'Access of selected equity groups to homelessness services’ is an indicator of governments’ objective to provide specialist homelessness services in an equitable manner.

‘Access of selected equity groups to homelessness services’ is defined as the proportion of all clients whose need for accommodation or services other than accommodation was met and who are in one of the following three population groups:

  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people
  • people born in non‑main English speaking countries
  • people with disability.

Disability is defined for this indicator as people who identify to the service provider as having a long‑term health condition or disability and needing assistance with self‑care, mobility or communication (core activities) — this may underestimate the number of clients with disability who need support to access and maintain housing.

This is a proxy measure as it only captures people who are clients of specialist homelessness services with an identified need for service(s), rather than all people in the population who need services. In addition, relative need among each population group for specialist homelessness accommodation and other services is unknown.

In general, the selected equity groups’ representation in the group of clients whose needs are met should be broadly similar to or higher than their representation in the population. Several factors need to be considered in interpreting the data — in particular, cultural differences can influence the extent to which each of the three population groups’ access specialist homelessness services.

Nationally in 2021-22, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people had a higher representation (28.4 per cent) among all people accessing specialist homelessness services compared with the representation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in the total population (3.4 per cent) (table 19.2).

Nationally in 2021-22, people born in non-main English speaking countries and people with disability had a lower representation among all people accessing specialist homelessness services compared with their representation in the total population (tables 19A.5–6).

2. Unmet demand for homelessness services

‘Unmet demand for homelessness services’ is an indicator of governments’ objective to ensure that services are accessible to people who need them.

Unmet demand for homelessness services is defined as the proportion of people who do not receive specialist homelessness services that they need. It is reported using a proxy measure for two broad service types — accommodation services and services other than accommodation.

  • Unmet need for accommodation is measured by:
    • the number of clients with an identified need for short term or emergency accommodation or medium term/transitional housing or long-term housing who were not provided with or referred for these services (although they may have received other types of services), divided by the number of clients who had a need for short term or emergency accommodation or medium term/transitional housing or long-term housing
  • Unmet need for services other than accommodation is measured by:
    • the number of clients with an identified need for at least one service other than accommodation (and no need for accommodation services) who were not provided with or referred for a service other than accommodation, divided by the number of clients who had a need for at least one service other than accommodation (and no need for accommodation services).

This is a proxy measure as it only captures people who are clients of specialist homelessness services with an identified need for service(s), rather than all people in the population who need services.

A low or decreasing proportion of clients with unmet demand is desirable.

Nationally, the proportion of clients with an identified need for accommodation who did not have this need met was 33.9 per cent in 2021-22, an increase from 32.3 per cent in 2020-21. Clients with unmet demand for services other than accommodation accounted for 2.0 per cent of the total demand for those services in 2021-22 (figure 19.2a).

3. Addressing client needs

‘Addressing client needs’ is an indicator of governments’ objective to identify and address individuals’ needs as appropriate.

‘Addressing client needs’ is defined as the proportion of clients whose needs are identified and who receive services matching those needs as appropriate, and has two measures:

  • the identification of client needs and how they can be appropriately addressed is measured as the proportion of closed support periods (for clients) with an agreed case management plan

    In some instances, a case management plan may be judged to be inappropriate (such as when a support period is short term — for example 24 hours). Jurisdictions with some central intake models may record a relatively low number of closed support periods where clients have an agreed case management plan and a relatively high number of clients with unmet need for services because, while all eligible clients receive an assessment, the provision of or referral for service is determined by their level of need relative to other clients.

  • the provision of services to address clients’ needs is measured as the proportion of clients (with closed support periods) with an identified need for particular service types who are provided with (and/or referred for) at least one service of that type.

Holding other factors constant, a high or increasing proportion is desirable for:

  • support periods where clients have an agreed case management plan
  • clients who received services that matched their needs and/or were referred to another agency for that purpose.

Nationally in 2021-22, an agreed case management plan was in place for clients in 55.4 per cent of closed support periods, an increase from 52.0 per cent in 2017-18 (figure 19.3a).

Nationally in 2021-22, of all clients with closed support periods who needed homelessness services, over half (112 597, or 55.9 per cent) needed accommodation or accommodation related assistance (table 19A.12). Of these clients, 62.7 per cent were directly provided with and/or referred for a service, down from 64.3 per cent in 2020‑21 (figure 19.3b). Data for 'provided only' and 'referred only' are available in table 19A.12.

Prioritisation of client needs and identification of goals for clients to work toward during support is a key aspect of case management. Case management goals achieved after support are reported as contextual data in table 19A.15.

4. Client satisfaction

‘Client satisfaction’ is an indicator of governments’ objective to provide high quality specialist homelessness services.

‘Client satisfaction’ is defined as the extent to which clients find homelessness services and programs to be helpful and of a high standard.

Measures for this indicator are under development.

5. Achieving quality standards

‘Achieving quality standards’ is an indicator of governments’ objective to provide services that are of high quality, provided by qualified staff in a safe environment.

‘Achieving quality standards’ is defined as the proportion of specialist homelessness services that meet nationally agreed quality standards.

A high or increasing proportion is desirable.

Data are not yet available for reporting against this indicator as there are currently no nationally agreed quality standards for specialist homelessness services.

6. Cost per day of support

‘Cost per day of support’ is an indicator of governments’ objective to provide specialist homelessness services in an efficient manner.

‘Cost per day of support’ is defined as total government recurrent expenditure on homelessness services divided by the number of days of support for clients receiving support and/or supported accommodation.

Across jurisdictions, there may be varying treatments of expenditure items (for example, superannuation) and different counting and reporting rules for generating financial data. Differences in expenditure data across jurisdictions may reflect to some extent differences in the way these data are compiled rather than variations in costs.

A low or decreasing cost per day of support may represent an improvement in efficiency, but may also indicate lower service quality, less complex client needs or longer waiting times for services.

Nationally in 2021-22, the cost per day of support for clients averaged $47.45 — an increase in real terms of 20.2 per cent from 2017-18 (figure 19.4). Costs can also be measured per completed support period or per client accessing homelessness services. Nationally in 2021-22, the cost per completed support period was $3249 (a real increase from $2201 in 2017-18) (table 19A.17) and the cost per client accessing homelessness services was $4901 (a real increase from $3371 in 2017-18) (table 19A.18).

7. Economic participation

‘Economic participation’ is an indicator of governments’ objective to support people who are homeless or at risk of homelessness to achieve social inclusion and greater economic participation.

‘Economic participation’ is defined as the change in the proportion of clients with the capacity to actively participate in the economy between the start and end of support. Two proxy measures are reported for clients aged 15 years or over (with closed support periods):

  • ‘achievement of employment, education and/or training on exit’ — the change in the proportion of clients who are employed and/or enrolled in formal education/training between the start and end of support
  • ‘achievement of income on exit’ — the change in the proportion of clients who have an income source between the start and end of support.

These are proxy measures as they only capture people who are clients of specialist homelessness services, rather than all people in the population who are homeless or at risk of homelessness.

Data are reported for all clients and for clients with an identified need for services of that type.

Holding other factors constant, an increase in the proportion from start to end of support is desirable for clients who are employed and/or enrolled in education/training and for clients who have an income source.

Data for clients in need of assistance are reported separately for employment status (tables 19A.20-23) and education/training status (tables 19A.24-26). While a decrease after support might indicate clients did not achieve the employment or education/training outcome sought, it does not mean that they did not achieve the alternative (for example, someone with an identified need for assistance in education/training may have found employment).

This is an indicator of outcomes in the short term. Longer term outcomes are important, but more difficult to measure.

Nationally in 2021-22, 24.0 per cent of clients were employed and/or enrolled in education and/or training after support, compared with 22.1 per cent before support (figure 19.5a).

Nationally in 2021-22, 92.0 per cent of clients had an income source after support, compared with 90.7 per cent before support (figure 19.5b).

8. Avoidance of homelessness

‘Avoidance of homelessness’ is an indicator of governments’ objective to support people who are at risk of homelessness to achieve and maintain housing.

‘Avoidance of homelessness’ is defined as the proportion of clients who are at risk of homelessness (that is, are seeking assistance to avoid homelessness) that avoid homelessness. Clients commencing a support period ‘at risk of homelessness’ during the first six months of a financial year are considered to have avoided homelessness if they are recorded as ‘not homeless’ at the start or end of all subsequent support periods for the following six months.

This is a proxy measure as it only captures people who are clients of specialist homelessness services, rather than all people in the population who are at risk of homelessness.

A high or increasing proportion of clients at risk of homelessness who avoid homelessness is desirable.

Nationally in 2021-22, 80.3 per cent of clients at risk of homelessness avoided homelessness (figure 19.6). For Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander clients at risk of homelessness in 2021-22, 79.0 per cent avoided homelessness (table 19A.30).

9. Achievement of sustained housing

‘Achievement of sustained housing’ is an indicator of governments’ objective to support people who are homeless or at risk of homelessness to achieve sustainable housing.

‘Achievement of sustained housing’ is defined as the proportion of clients living in and sustaining independent housing following support. Three proxy measures are reported:

  • Achievement of independent housing on exit — the change in the proportion of clients (with closed support periods) living in independent housing between the start and end of support, reported for all clients and for clients with an identified need for assistance to obtain or maintain independent housing including ‘to obtain long term housing’, ‘sustain tenancy or prevent tenancy failure or eviction’, or, ‘prevent foreclosures or for mortgage arrears’. The reported data are for relatively short term outcomes achieved within a financial year. Longer term outcomes are also important, but more difficult to measure.
  • Return to homelessness — the proportion of specialist homelessness services clients who change status from ‘homeless’ to ‘housed’ and back to ‘homeless’ in a 24 month reporting period. The 24 month reporting period is retrospective, commencing in a client’s last homeless month in the reference year. For example, for the 2021-22 reference year:
    • a client is in scope if they have at least one support period with a monthly housing status of ‘homeless’ between July 2021 and June 2022
    • if the in-scope client’s last homeless month is September 2021, the client’s monthly housing status is assessed for the 24 month period October 2019 to September 2021. If the client experienced a homeless-housed-homeless pattern at any time during that period, the client is considered to have returned to homelessness after achieving housing.
  • Persistent homelessness — the proportion of clients who experienced homelessness for more than 7 months over a 24 month reporting period. The 24 month reporting period is retrospective, commencing in a client’s last support month in the reference year. For example, for the 2021-22 reference year:
    • a client is in scope if they have at least one support period with a monthly housing status of ‘homeless’ between July 2021 and June 2022
    • if the in-scope client’s last support month is September 2021, the client’s monthly housing status is assessed for the 24 month period October 2019 to September 2021. If the client has been homeless for more than 7 months in that period, the client is considered to have experienced persistent homelessness.

(Definitions of ‘homeless’ and 'housed' for specialist homelessness service clients are in the 'Key terms' section on the 'Explanatory material' tab.)

These are proxy measures as they only capture people who are clients of specialist homelessness services, rather than all people in the population who are homeless or at risk of homelessness.

Holding other factors constant, a high or increasing proportion of clients who achieved independent housing in closed support periods, a low or decreasing proportion of clients who returned to homelessness and a low or decreasing proportion of clients who experienced persistent homelessness are desirable.

Nationally in 2021-22, 62.5 per cent of clients (with closed support periods) achieved independent housing after support, compared to 53.3 per cent before support (figure 19.7a).

Nationally in 2021-22, 12.2 per cent of clients experiencing homelessness had returned to homelessness after a period of more secure housing (figure 19.7b).

Nationally, of all clients who experienced homelessness in 2021-22, 26.6 per cent experienced persistent homelessness (that is, were homeless for more than 7 months [30 per cent] over the 24 month reporting period) (figure 19.7c).

Performance indicator data for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in this section are available in the data tables listed below. Further supporting information can be found in the Indicator results tab and data tables.

Homelessness services data disaggregated for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people
Table number Table title
Table 19A.4 Proportion of clients — with accommodation and services other than accommodation needs that were met — who were Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander clients
Table 19A.10 Proportion of closed support periods with an agreed case management plan, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander clients
Table 19A.11 Support needs of clients, summary (closed support periods)
Table 19A.13 Support needs of clients, by service assistance type, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander clients (closed support periods)
Table 19A.19 Economic participation, before and after support, clients aged 15 years or over (closed support periods)
Table 19A.20 Labour force status, before and after support, clients aged 15 years or over (closed support periods)
Table 19A.22 Labour force status, before and after support, as a proportion of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander clients who needed employment and/or training assistance (closed support periods) 
Table 19A.27 Income status, before and after support, clients aged 15 years or over (closed support periods)
Table 19A.29 Income status, before and after support, as a proportion of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander clients who needed income assistance (closed support periods)
Table 19A.30 Clients at risk of homelessness who avoided homelessness
Table 19A.31 Support periods in which clients at risk of homelessness avoided homelessness
Table 19A.32 Independent housing, before and after support (closed support periods)
Table 19A.34 Housing tenure type, before and after support, as a proportion of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander clients who needed assistance to obtain or maintain independent housing (closed support periods)
Table 19A.37 The proportion of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander clients who needed assistance to obtain or maintain independent housing and achieved it at the end of support, who did not present again with a need for accommodation assistance in the reporting period
Table 19A.38 Clients who return to homelessness after achieving housing
Table 19A.39 Clients who experience persistent homelessness

Key terms

TermsDefinition

Age

Age is calculated as age of the client on the start date of their first support period of the reporting period or the first date of the reporting period, whichever of the two is the later date.

Client

A person who receives a specialist homelessness service.

To be a client, the person must directly receive a service and not just be a beneficiary of a service. Children who present with a parent or guardian and receive a service are considered to be a client. This includes a service that they share with their parent or guardian such as meals or accommodation.

Children who present with a parent or guardian but do not directly receive a service are not considered to be clients. This includes situations where the parent or guardian receives assistance to prevent tenancy failure or eviction.

Clients can be counted differently according to the data item that is being reported:

  • Clients (demographic) — For clients with multiple support periods, reported data is based on the information at the start date of the client’s first support period in the reporting period or the first date of the reporting period, whichever is later
  • Clients (counted by support periods) — For each data item, clients are counted based on support periods with distinct client information. The same client can be counted more than once if they have multiple support periods with a different response for the data item. The result is that percentages do not add up to 100
  • Clients (outcomes) — Clients are counted based on closed support periods where a valid response is recorded both when presenting to an agency and at the end of support.

Closed support period

A support period that had finished on or before the end of the reporting period.

Comparability

Data are considered comparable if (subject to caveats) they can be used to inform an assessment of comparative performance. Typically, data are considered comparable when they are collected in the same way and in accordance with the same definitions. For comparable indicators or measures, significant differences in reported results allow an assessment of differences in performance, rather than being the result of anomalies in the data.

Completeness

Data are considered complete if all required data are available for all jurisdictions that provide the service.

Disability

Specialist homelessness services clients who have identified as having a long‑term health condition or disability and needing assistance with core activities (self‑care, mobility and/or communication).

From July 2013, the specialist homelessness services collection collects information on whether, and to what extent, a long‑term health condition or disability restricts clients’ everyday activities across the following three life areas and they need help/supervision with these tasks:

  • self‑care
  • mobility
  • communication.

The information is consistent with data collected in the 2016 and 2021 Census and the 2016 and 2018 National Social Housing Survey. Questions are based on the Census ‘Core Activity Need for Assistance’ concept.

Homeless definition for clients of specialist homelessness services

Clients of specialist homelessness services are defined as being homeless in each month where at least one of the following describes their housing situation:

  • dwelling type is caravan, tent, cabin, boat, improvised building/dwelling, no dwelling/street/park/in the open, motor vehicle, boarding/rooming house, emergency accommodation, hotel/motel/bed and breakfast
  • tenure type is renting or living rent free in transitional housing, caravan park, boarding/rooming house or emergency accommodation/night shelter/women’s refuge/youth shelter; OR if the client has no tenure
  • conditions of occupancy is couch surfer.

Regardless of tenure or conditions of occupancy, a client is not considered to be homeless if the dwelling type is reported as ‘Institution’ in one of these categories:

  • hospital (excluding psychiatric)
  • psychiatric hospital/unit
  • disability support
  • rehabilitation
  • adult correctional facility
  • youth/juvenile justice correctional centre
  • boarding school/residential college
  • aged care facility
  • immigration detention centre.

Homelessness population

The ABS Census definition states that when a person does not have suitable accommodation alternatives they are considered homeless if their current living arrangement:

  • is in a dwelling that is inadequate; or
  • has no tenure, or if their initial tenure is short and not extendable; or
  • does not allow them to have control of, and access to space for, social relations.
Housed definition for clients of specialist homelessness services

Clients are considered to be housed if they are living in any of the following circumstances:

  • Public or community housing (renter or rent free): dwelling type is house/townhouse/flat and tenure type is renter or rent-free in public housing, or renter or rent-free in community housing
  • Private or other housing (renter, rent-free or owner): dwelling type is house/townhouse/flat and tenure type is renter or rent free in private housing, life tenure scheme, owner-shared equity or rent/buy scheme, owner-being purchased/with mortgage, owner-fully owned, or other renter or rent free.

No tenure

A type of housing tenure recorded for clients who are sleeping rough or do not have a legal right to occupy a dwelling and may be asked to leave at any time. It includes couch surfing, living in an institutional setting, living on the streets, sleeping in parks, squatting, using cars or railway carriages, improvised dwellings or living in long grass.

Non‑conventional accommodation

Non‑conventional accommodation is defined as:

  • living on the streets
  • sleeping in parks
  • squatting
  • staying in cars or railway carriages
  • living in improvised dwellings
  • living in long grass.

Non‑main English speaking countries

Non‑main English speaking countries are all countries except Australia, United Kingdom, Republic of Ireland, New Zealand, Canada, United States of America and South Africa.

Ongoing support period

A support period is considered ongoing at the end of the reporting period if each of the following conditions is met:

  • no support end‑date is provided
  • no after‑support information is provided
  • corresponding client data was received in the month following the end of the reporting period.

Real expenditure

Actual expenditure adjusted for changes in prices. Adjustments are made using the General Government Final Consumption Expenditure (GGFCE) chain price deflator.

Referral

A referral to another agency is recorded as provided only if that agency accepts the person concerned for an appointment or interview.

Severely crowded dwelling

The ABS categorises a dwelling as severely crowded if it requires four or more extra bedrooms to accommodate the number of people who usually live there, based on the Canadian National Occupancy Standard (ABS 2012).

Short‑term or emergency accommodation

Short‑term or emergency accommodation includes: refuges; crisis shelter; couch surfing; living temporarily with friends and relatives; insecure accommodation on a short‑term basis; and, emergency accommodation arranged by a specialist homelessness agency (e.g. in hotels, motels, etc.).

The following short‑term accommodation options are not included:

  • hotels, motels, caravan parks and other temporary accommodation used when a person is on holiday or travelling
  • custodial and care arrangements, such as prisons and hospitals
  • temporary accommodation used by a person while renovating usual residence or building a new residence (e.g. weekenders, caravans).

Specialist homelessness agency

An organisation that receives government funding to deliver specialist homelessness services. Assistance is provided to clients aimed at responding to or preventing homelessness. Agencies may also receive funding from other sources.

Inclusion of agencies in the specialist homelessness services collection is determined by the State and Territory departments responsible for administering the government response to homelessness. Not all funded agencies are required to participate in data collection.

Specialist homelessness service(s)

Assistance provided by a specialist homelessness agency to a client aimed at responding to or preventing homelessness. The specialist homelessness services that are in scope for this collection and that may be provided during a support period are:

Housing / accommodation services
  • short‑term or emergency accommodation
  • medium‑term/transitional housing
  • long‑term housing
  • assistance to sustain tenancy or prevent tenancy failure or eviction
  • assistance to prevent foreclosures or for mortgage arrears.
Specialised services
  • child protection services
  • parenting skills education
  • child‑specific specialist counselling services
  • psychological services
  • psychiatric services
  • mental health services
  • pregnancy assistance
  • family planning support
  • physical disability services
  • intellectual disability services
  • health/medical services
  • professional legal services
  • financial advice and counselling
  • counselling for problem gambling
  • drug/alcohol counselling
  • specialist counselling services
  • interpreter services
  • assistance with immigration services
  • culturally specific services
  • assistance to connect culturally
  • other specialised services.
General assistance and support services
  • assertive outreach
  • assistance to obtain/maintain government allowance
  • employment assistance
  • training assistance
  • educational assistance
  • financial information
  • material aid/brokerage
  • assistance for incest/sexual assault
  • assistance for domestic and family violence
  • family/relationship assistance
  • assistance for trauma
  • assistance with challenging social/behavioural problems
  • living skills/personal development
  • legal information
  • court support
  • advice/information
  • retrieval/storage/removal of personal belongings
  • advocacy/liaison on behalf of client
  • school liaison
  • child care
  • structured play/skills development
  • child contact and residence arrangements
  • meals
  • laundry/shower facilities
  • recreation
  • transport
  • other basic assistance.

Support period

The period of time a client receives services from an agency is referred to as a support period. A support period starts on the day the client first receives a service from an agency and ends when:

  • the relationship between the client and the agency ends
  • the client has reached the maximum amount of support the agency can offer
  • a client has not received any services from the agency for a whole calendar month and does not have an appointment booked with the agency.

A support period ends on the day the client last received services from the agency.

Unmet demand (or unmet need / unassisted request)

Unmet demand for homelessness services occurs when an individual who approaches a specialist homelessness service provider does not receive, and is not referred elsewhere for, accommodation or other services that they need. For clients of specialist homelessness services, unmet demand is categorised as unmet need. For those who are not clients and do not receive any assessment, service or referral elsewhere for services, unmet demand is categorised as unassisted requests.

References

ABS 2012, Information Paper: A Statistical Definition of Homelessness, Cat. no. 4922.0, Canberra.

—— 2018, Census of Population and Housing: Estimating homelessness, 2016, Cat. no. 20492.0, Canberra.

Council of Australian Governments (COAG) 2018, The National Housing and Homelessness Agreement | Federal Financial Relations, https://federalfinancialrelations.gov.au/agreements/national-housing-and-homelessness-agreement-0 (accessed 16 December 2022).

Impact of COVID-19 on data for the Homelessness services section

COVID-19 may affect data in this Report in a number of ways. This includes in respect of actual performance (that is, the impact of COVID-19 on service delivery from 2020 to 2022 which is reflected in the data results), and the collection and processing of data (that is, the ability of data providers to undertake data collection and process results for inclusion in the Report).

For the Homelessness services section, data have been impacted by funding and policy initiatives that were introduced in response to COVID-19 in 2019-20, 2020-21, and 2021-22, and affected the use of specialist homelessness services. Due to variation across jurisdictions in the timing and types of initiatives, as well as whether they were funded and delivered within, or outside, the specialist homelessness services sector, caution should be used when comparing data over time and across states and territories during the pandemic period.