Crisis accommodation in Australia: now and for the future

Deb Batterham, Selina Tually, Veronica Coram, Kelly McKinley, Violet Kolar, Sean McNelis, Ian Goodwin-Smith

Research output: Book/ReportCommissioned reportpeer-review

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Despite crisis accommodation being a significant and well established
part of the Specialist Homelessness Services (SHS) system in Australia,
much remains unknown about the key elements of effective crisis
accommodation models.
• In this study we use the term crisis accommodation to refer to the different
forms of short-term accommodation used by SHS’s in responding to
homelessness. This includes the following types of crisis accommodation:
generalist homelessness crisis accommodation services (including shelters
or crisis supported accommodation services (CSAS)), family and domestic
violence refuges and youth refuges. We also consider various purchased
crisis accommodation options such as: boarding and rooming houses,
hotels/motels, hostels, backpackers and caravan parks.
• This research provides a review of the grey and academic literature
on crisis accommodation models and practices, as well as drawing
together perspectives on crisis accommodation from people with living
and lived experiences of crisis accommodation, frontline staff and key
stakeholders in each Australian state and territory. It also includes analysis
of administrative data from a large SHS in Melbourne, Victoria and the
South Australian Housing Authority (SAHA).
• A key challenge across jurisdictions is the lack of exit options from crisis
accommodation, which creates a range of issues, including prolonging
homelessness and exacerbating trauma, backlogs and extended waiting
times in the system, and exits to unsuitable accommodation or back into
homelessness. While all participants agreed that the main goal of crisis
accommodation should be an exit to long-term housing and resolution of
homelessness, only a minority of people currently exit crisis accommodation
to longer-term housing.
There is significant unmet demand for SHS provided crisis accommodation
across jurisdictions and particularly in regional and remote areas. Unmet
demand results in prolonged periods of homelessness and over-reliance
on purchased crisis accommodation, which is often unsuitable and comes
with inadequate support.
• Analysis of administrative data reveals that people accessing crisis
accommodation have a wide range of support needs. The range of
presenting and unmet needs reflects the diverse client cohorts accessing
support, as well as the breadth and complexity of work undertaken by
specialist homelessness services operating in the crisis space.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationMelbourne
Number of pages133
ISBN (Print)978-1-922498-74-8
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2023

Publication series

NameAHURI Final Report
PublisherAustralian Housing and Urban Research Institute
ISSN (Print)1834-7223


  • crisis accommodation
  • Specialist Homelessness Services (SHS)
  • homelessness
  • domestic violence refuge
  • refuge shelters


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