ACT News

Canberrans accessing homelessness services at one of the highest rates in Australia: report

Canberrans affected by domestic violence and housing affordability woes are accessing homelessness services at one of the highest rates in Australia, a new report has shown.

The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare released its third annual report into demand for specialist homelessness services on Monday. 

It showed about 254,000 Australians accessed homelessness services in 2013–14.

The ACT recorded the third-highest rate of service use due to homelessness, with 139 clients per 10,000 people.  

The highest rates of service use were in the Northern Territory, which had 297 clients per 10,000 people, and Victoria, with 174 clients per 10,000 people.

The report found a steep increase in the number of women and children fleeing domestic violence situations, coupled with a rise in the number of clients who faced housing crises, was largely behind a 4 per cent jump in demand for support Australia-wide. 

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One-third of all clients, or about 84,774 adults and children, received help due to domestic or family violence.

That was a 9 per cent increase from the previous year and included a 14 per cent jump in the number of children being helped.

The proportion of clients who identified ';housing crisis" as the main reason for seeking help also experienced a 3 per cent hike to reach 16 per cent.

There was a 4 per cent jump in the number of people who sought help to maintain their tenancy or prevent being evicted, to 32 per cent in the past financial year.

The report also showed there was a 2 per cent increase in the proportion of women who presented as homeless, compared with a 7 per cent fall in the number of men.

AIHW spokesman Geoff Neideck said Victoria recorded the largest increase in clients of any state or territory.

"Small increases were recorded for Queensland, South Australia, Tasmania and the Northern Territory and the other jurisdictions remained at similar levels to the previous year," Mr Neideck said.

"Fluctuations in client numbers from year to year aren't unusual, as resourcing and program targeting priorities change."

For the first time, the report included information on specialist homelessness services clients who had a long-term health condition or disability. 

About 26,655 clients with a long-term health condition or disability sought assistance from a specialist homelessness agency in 2013-14

"This new data provides an added dimension in understanding the complexity of homelessness in Australia," Mr Neideck said.

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