MORE than 230,000 Australians used a homeless service in 2011-12 and 99,000 were children or people aged up to 24.
The first ever report on specialist homeless services by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare to be released today shows more than seven million nights of accommodation were provided to the homeless last financial year.
Domestic violence was a key driver for accessing help from a homeless service and was cited by 34 per cent of all clients and one in five children aged under 10.
Financial difficulties was the main reason clients sought help from a homeless centre and was cited by 39 per cent of clients.
One in five clients were identified as having a current mental health issue.
Even though the Gillard Government has pledged to halve the nation’s homeless rate by 2020, an estimated 137,647 requests for help from homelessness services were not able to be met, the report says.
This equates to an average of 376 requests for services per day, and more than four-in-ten of those unable to get help were family groups.
As rents and house prices push secure housing out of the reach of many Australians, the report shows an estimated 31,146 families sought help from homeless services in 2011-12.
There were over 56,000 children in these families and 69 percent were aged under 10, and 24 percent were aged 10-14.
A further 42,668 people aged 15-24 were alone when they sought help from a homeless service.
Victoria and NSW were the states that assisted the highest numbers of children and young people presenting alone.
Women aged 18-34 were the group most likely to access specialist homelessness services
The 37 percent of clients who were provided with accommodation by specialist homelessness agencies stayed on average 82 nights.
Just over one-sixth of those helped by an agency were provided with over 180 nights of accommodation.
Homeless agencies provided over $7 million in financial assistance to help people establish or maintain a tenancy.
Clients were also provided with $3.7 million for short-term or emergency accommodation in motels and hotels.
An estimated 69,095 people who sought help were renting or buying privately when they first sought assistance from specialist homelessness agencies and 77 percent were able to get help to stay there.
Eleven percent of (25,457) were without shelter or in inadequate dwellings when they first sought support from homelessness agencies, more than half (53 percent) remained in this situation.
The data used in the report was provided by approximately 1480 agencies from across Australia for the period July 2011 to June 2012.