As the cost-of-living crisis continues to bite, David Spriggs, CEO of technology focused social enterprise Infoxchange shares some key demand insights from Australia's largest health and welfare services directory.
At a time when the cost-of-living crisis is featuring in our news headlines, I’d like to share some service demand insights we are seeing across the sector, alongside a humbling milestone.
The Infoxchange service directory is Australia’s largest up-to-date health and welfare services directory, with over 400,000 services listed.
Each year, the directory responds to millions of requests for assistance, helping Australians find the services they need.
With a powerful human force of committed database updaters behind it, the service directory is perpetually up to date with concise and accurate service listings.
The directory powers Ask Izzy, our mobile website that connects people with housing, a meal, health and wellbeing services, support, counselling and much more.
This month, we are recognising the 10 millionth search using our service directory since July 2018.
We are proud to have helped so many Australians who need support, but we are sad that behind each one of those 10 million searches is a person or family needing access to support services. While 10 million searches is a milestone, it is not something we are celebrating.
Service demand insights
Here is some of the latest data about our service directory:
- There were almost 245,000 searches for help in May this year. This is the highest number of monthly searches on record.
- There have been just over 2.65 million searches in the past year, compared to 2.39 million searches over the preceding 12-month period, an increase of 10.5 per cent.
- In the past 12 months, there have been over 1.3 million hardship searches (food, financial assistance, emergency relief, material aid), an increase of 23.2% compared to the preceding 12-month period, demonstrating the impact of the cost-of-living crisis on Australians.
- There have been over 800,000 searches for food in the past 12 months, compared to 584,000 in the preceding 12-month period – an increase of almost 40 per cent.
- There were almost 30,000 mental health and wellbeing searches in May, the second highest number for that category on record. In the past 12 months, there have been over 315,000 searches in this category compared to 238,000 in the previous 12-month period, constituting an increase of over 30% per cent.
Using the Infoxchange service directory to power websites and applications across the sector
Community sector organisations can access the Infoxchange service directory to power their own service delivery platforms via an application programming interface (API).
The API connects the information in the Infoxchange service directory to any website or application, allowing it to send queries to and display results from our service directory. The API ensures that users have a consistent and secure method of accessing directory information, regardless of where they are accessing it.
Foodbank Australia uses the service directory API to power the “Find food” search function on its website. This search function has seen exponential growth since it was implemented, including close to 20,000 searches in May 2023 alone.
Ending Loneliness Together
In partnership with Ending Loneliness Together, we have created Australia’s first directory specifically designed for people experiencing loneliness. The “Find connection” search allows Australians to find services local to them that can assist in reducing loneliness, such as Chatty Cafes.
Alcohol & Drug Foundation
If you were looking for alcohol and drug services near you, for yourself or a client, you could use the API on the Alcohol and Drug Foundation’s website to find services near you specific to the categories you set, such methadone dispensing clinics. The Path2Help filters can also match a person and their drug use to an appropriate service provider.
What’s next for the service directory?
As the service directory continues to grow and we find more ways for not-for-profit organisations to draw on its data, we will see its use by the community and the community sector grow.
Our dedicated team of updaters will continue to ensure the details of each listing are up-to-date. They will also listen to feedback from the sector to keep it user-friendly and give it greater accessibility from within our client and case management system.
We will also keep sharing the trends we see in the service directory through the Community Advocate, to keep you and your organisation informed.
David Spriggs is the CEO of Infoxchange, Australia’s leading technology-based social enterprise, delivering technology for social justice for more than 30 years. He is passionate about creating a more digitally inclusive society and the role technology can play in improving the efficiency and effectiveness of the not-for-profit sector.