Community services organisations provided assistance to over 3.1 million clients last financial year, a new report has revealed. Some services are at breaking point and were forced to turn away a quarter of people needing child welfare, youth or housing services.
Demand for community services across Australia increased by 19% in 2007-2008 compared to the previous year – services in highest demand are long term and crisis housing and health services (including mental health and drug and alcohol services).
Launching the Australian Community Sector Survey 2009, Clare Martin, CEO, ACOSS, said:
“Community services play a vital role in providing essential services and make a real and tangible difference to people’s lives. These frontline services mean a woman escaping domestic violence can find somewhere safe to stay, or a person who loses their job is able to access emergency relief and financial counselling.”
“Agencies are reporting they are struggling to meet the rising demand for services. It is concerning that nearly 280,000 eligible people were turned away, an increase of 17% on last year.”
“Organisations were surveyed prior to the impact of the economic downturn. We expect the effects of the downturn, particularly rising unemployment, will stretch resources even further and more people will miss out on the help they need. The survey showed people were most often turned away from housing, youth and child welfare services.”
Australian Community Sector Survey 2007-2008 key findings:
Surveyed community and welfare organisations provided services to 3.1 million clients, compared to 2.6 million clients in 2006-2007. This is an increase of 19% in the number of those assisted.
The services and supports most needed by clients (by rank) were:
- Long term housing
- Crisis and supported accommodation
- Health care (including mental health, drug and alcohol services)
- Income support
- Aged and disability services
- Employment, education and training programs
Agencies turned away 278,107 eligible people, a 17.3% increase on the 237,024 people turned away from services in 2006-2007. Overall one in 12 people were turned away.
Services that people were turned away from in highest numbers were:
- Youth (48,357 people turned away or one in four people)
- Child welfare (5,570 people turned away, or one in three people)
- Housing and homelessness (19,202 or one in four people)
- Employment and training (10,903 or one in six people)
The Australian Community Sector Survey is the only annual survey providing an overview of the non-profit community services and welfare sector. Respondent organisations included community and welfare organisations from the membership of ACOSS and the State and Territory Councils of Social Service.
The report provides information on service use, income, expenditure and workforce issues for the community services and welfare sector. The 2009 survey covers the financial year 2007-08 and had 556 survey respondents.