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Pulse Session 2022: Collaborations in the Homelessness Sector

Updated: Apr 20, 2022

Our first Pulse Meeting in 2022 was held on Wednesday, 23 March entirely online. It was pleasing to see the number of people who joined us to hear about the range of initiatives that are emerging within the homelessness system. We encourage you to get abreast of these developments by registering for our regular Pulse Meetings which will be held at 9.30am every second Wednesday of the month.

The main presentation of the session focused on a Zero Project hosted Services Map developed for the Midland Community as a living map of connections between services within the homelessness sector.

In addition to this several other updates were delivered from across the WA homelessness sector including updates from the Western Australian Alliance to End Homelessness (Alliance).

The Alliance

The Acting Executive Officer for the Alliance, John Berger detailed how the Alliance received ongoing funding from the Sisters of St. John of God to continue its work to end homelessness. Shelter WA will continue as the backbone organisation. After consultation with the Alliance members, changes have been made to the Alliance’s Terms of Reference which will lead to the reappointment of its Steering Group to guide us forward.

The Executive Officer role for the Alliance is being advertised.

Office of Homelessness

The Office of Homelessness (Office) was announced by Homelessness Minister John Carey and Director General at the Department of Communities (Communities) Mike Rowe.

The Office has been in operation for five weeks, and Jacqui Herring gave a preliminary update given the early days. Jacqui outlined how it gives a clear focus for the Department.

“If we were ever going to have a concerted effort across the sector and government to respond to homelessness this is that opportunity,” Jacqui said.

The Office will have two key parts: an Operational arm and a Policy arm. This creates a centralised function for homelessness rather than it being “disparate” across Communities. Close links have been established between the contracting arm of Communities and the service delivery arm to prevent contradictions between the work being done. Jacqui highlighted the importance of looking at homelessness as a continuum concept, from rough sleeping right through to public housing. “It is about how we make the system work collectively rather than looking at things in silos.”

One of Jacqui’s first tasks was to deliver a submission to the Inquiry into the financial administration of homelessness services in Western Australia.

Video: 'Advance to Zero' | ABC News

John Berger showed a video which provides a clear explanation of what ‘The Zero’ approach is all about. It highlights the work done in inner Melbourne (Port Philip) which has seen real measurable reduction in homelessness.

Zero Project WA

Elise Haddleton, Community Impact Officer, highlighted their brand-new, quarterly bulletin, Progress to Zero. The bulletin gives updates, reflections, highlights data insights, and promotes upcoming and recent events. Elise also shared the new additions to the Zero Project website, including pages on upcoming training and events and the dashboard that now includes Geraldton, Perth, Rockingham, Mandurah, and Bunbury, the Zero Project regions using the By Name List. The dashboard is a monthly update on the number of people experiencing homelessness.

On Friday, 4 February 2022 the Australian Alliance to End Homelessness, Western Australian Alliance to End Homelessness and the 'large scale change' leaders of the National Advance to Zero Movement certified four WA communities as reaching 'quality data' for their By-Name List.

Supportive Landlord Resources

Leah Watkins from Housing Choices WA explained the launch of the Supportive Landlord Service Framework and Sector Resource Kit.

This resource was developed to support Community Housing Providers (CHPs) to better understand the language, context, tools and approaches to being a supportive landlord whilst ensuring tenant wellbeing and tenancy sustainment.

It is intended as a resource to enable CHPs staff to develop an understanding of what it means to house people with complex needs, provide guidance and tools and discuss contemporary best practice. It is not the intention of this framework to be a prescriptive model for all CHPs, but rather to enable CHPs to select the guidance and tools that suit their own housing practice and their legal and contractual obligations.

Leah also gave an update on the Supportive Landlord Pilot which Housing Choices WA have been funded by the Department of Communities to support eight tenancies in Bunbury. It is the first use of the Supportive Landlord Model specifically targeting people sleeping rough and has been designed to align the work of housing providers with Housing First principles.

This Supportive Landlord Service Framework and Sector Resource Kit was supported by Lotterywest. Visit the website here.

Lived Experience

Various members of the Lived Experience of Homelessness community across WA are attempting to link-up to provide a stronger representation of the differing streams lived experience can come in.

It’s a challenge but Big Al Connolly explained the importance of this work.

"You can go from anything from rough sleeping to owning your own home again,” Al explained. “We haven’t as a lived experience cohort come together. If you came to me and asked about rough sleeping; I couldn’t comment, I wasn’t rough sleeping on the streets I was couch surfing. Because of our different challenges and different roles we play in lived experience it’s been hard to get the group together and to really focus on what we want the outcomes to be.”

Also, “When Lived Experience are asked to comment on certain projects and in workshops we are often commenting 'blind' as to what is happening across the sector or even within the remaining members of the Hear of My Experience (HOME) project cohort.

“We need to be embedded from the top down in key organisations starting with the Office of Homelessness and other lead organisations and agencies.”

Big Al had been invited by the Ruff Institute of Global Homelessness to present a webinar which highlights the importance of partnering with people with first-hand experiences of homelessness in designing and implementing homelessness services. View that webinar here.

Home Stretch

The Home Stretch WA Trial has co-designed and tested an enhanced support system for young people as an extension of care, providing them with a continuation of support and access to resources from 18 years to when they turn 21 years of age.

The Trial has been a highly collaborative project driven by the voices and expressed needs of young people, and in particular their experiences of ‘ageing out’ of the state care system at 18 and being forced into independence with significantly less support and resources than their peers.

Andy Kazim, Practice Consultant – Youth from Anglicare WA explained how the youth population is highly vulnerable and experiences levels of homelessness unseen in other areas of the population. Home Stretch as a model is focused on supporting young people “towards interdependence and not independence”.

The result of two years of work was to devise what practice and policy responses would need to be in place to make the extension of support effective across WA. The state government is now following on with the implementation of the election commitment to roll out Home Stretch across the state, working in collaboration with the Home Stretch Trial team to ensure fidelity and integrity to the co-design process. The Department of Communities is now working with metro and regional stakeholders to roll out Home Stretch in a way that makes sense for different communities and contexts.

Find out more about the Home Stretch Trial here.

Imagined Futures

Lynn MacLaren spoke about the Imagined Futures Housing and Homelessness initiative. Over 35 organisations, government departments, businesses and philanthropists are represented in the Imagined Futures partnership.

Imagined Futures is recognised by the state government as the District Leadership Group for the South West Metropolitan Region. It is auspiced by St Patrick's Community Support Centre Inc. and funded by the Department of Communities, the City of Cockburn, the City of Fremantle and the City of Melville.

Currently Imagined Futures is facilitating a place-based strategic approach to housing and homelessness across the south west metro region, including the areas of Rockingham, Kwinana and Mandurah. This project aids All Paths Lead to a Home: Western Australia’s 10-Year Strategy on Homelessness 2020–2030.

Find out more about Imagined Futures here.

Midland Community Living Map

Elise Haddleton came back online to introduce the “living” homelessness services map. Initially developed with a focus on services withing the Midland area it has grown to include Perth services more broadly and it continuing to expand as additional services are identified. The mapping tool can also be applied for other communities interested in collating services within their region for strategic and practical purposes.

Elise developed the map as a member of the Zero Project and as the Community Impact Officer supporting Midland, the Perth area, and Geraldton. The term “living” is to dismiss the idea of a stagnant map which shows only the elements at a fixed point in time, commonly used in reports. The genesis of the mapping came from a collective impact approach to understand community who are doing the work, what services they offer and how they connect to each other.

“From my perspective really what we want to be making sure is that whatever gets developed is really useful on a number of scales,” Elise said. “We want it to be able to facilitate more strategic work looking at what’s happening as a sector overall and how we can improve that over time and the ways we can manage our limited resources more effectively. But also, it needs to be for people on the ground, considering how we can support their work to be more efficient and connect more effectively with the homeless in dealing with multiple needs.”

Using open-source free software called Kumu the program organises complex data into relationship maps. You don’t need to understand coding to use it, just be able to manage text within an Excel spreadsheet.

Since word has got out about the map it has been steadily growing and Elise took participants through the various functions of the map and the many service categories within the map so far. Elise recommends the best way to discover the capabilities of the map is “to log on and have a play”. She also encourages people to get in touch with her if they would like further training on using the map or on how it was developed.

Watch the video presentation.

View the free “living” homelessness services map here.

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