Communiqué Homelessness Week 2019

The purpose of this communique is to provide an overview and outcomes of Homelessness Week 2019. Homelessness Week is an important national annual event to shine a light on homelessness, to learn from the voices of people with lived experience of homelessness and collectively reflect on what we need to do to change perceptions and stigmas to end homelessness.

In Western Australia our theme this year was ‘Home, Safe Home’. We believe that everyone has a right to safe and secure housing that enables them to thrive. This year’s focus was on solutions to end homelessness, including a focus on the Housing First Model to end chronic rough sleeping.

Housing First Approach and International Keynote Speaker

Shelter WA hosted Mr Bob Jordan, Ireland’s Director of Housing First, City of Dublin to learn how Ireland have embedded a Housing First approach into national policy and practice. These learnings were shared through discussions, presentations, workshops and meetings with Ministers and staff from the Department of Communities. 

[L-R] Bob Jordan, Ireland's Director of Housing First, City of Dublin; John Berger, Chair WA Alliance to End Homelessness

Housing First is an evidence-based approach to ending homelessness with international success. This model provides a permanent home and wrap around services for people who have experienced chronic rough sleeping. Without the Housing First approach, this group would generally cycle in and out of homelessness shelters, accident and emergency departments and the streets. In this model, the provision of housing first is an unconditional priority as the platform for people to focus on their recovery at their own pace. Once a home is provided, a multidisciplinary team of support workers work in partnership with the individual to understand and meet their needs. This may include services such as drug and alcohol counselling, mental health or services required by the individual.

Lived Experience Working Group

This year a lived experience working group was established to co-develop and inform the week, along with hosting and being involved in events. This group ensured that the voices of people with lived experience of homelessness informed activities and were elevated during the week.

Sponsors, Partners and Media

Homelessness Week 2019 involved collaboration from the community sector, government, industry and the corporate sector. Shelter WA would like to give special thanks to Lotterywest, the Department of Communities and Beyond Bank for their support of the week. Also to Brookfield Properties, the Property Council of WA and Woodside Energy for their event partnership and the panellists who took part in discussions. Shelter WA would particularly like to thank Allan Connelly for sharing his story and participating in several panels and events.

[L-R] Allan Connelly, Lived Experience Advisor; Hon Simone McGurk MLA Minister for Community Services

Homelessness Week attracted State and National media. Key media highlights included an extended interview with Mr Jordan on ABC 7.00pm television News, an opinion piece in The West Australian, WAtoday, Pro Bono News and an interview on 6PR Breakfast with Steve Mills and Basil Zempilas. This was coupled with numerous stories in local and regional media including print and broadcast form.

Screenshot | ABC 7:00pm TV News (WA) story with Bob Jordan. Credit: ABC TV

HW2019 Events and Releases

Over 1,000 people attended events during the week. Eight events were organised by Shelter WA and 15 partnership events and other independent events occurred across regional WA and the Perth Metro area. The Department of Communities released their book ‘When there’s no place to call home: Stories of people who have experienced homelessness in WA’ to show how complex and personal the circumstances are that lead to someone experiencing life without a home.

Shelter WA’s hosted events included:

Homelessness Week 2019 Launch

The opening event launched the ‘Home Is Where My Heart Is’ photographic exhibition by members of the Homelessness Youth Advisory Council (HYAC). Minister Simone McGurk officially launched the week and discussed the Government’s actions towards ending homelessness. Mr Olman Walley welcomed people to country, the Shelter WA Chairperson Mr Mark Glasson welcomed attendees, followed by presentations from Youth Affairs Council WA (YACWA) CEO Ross Wortham and HYAC member Sun McIntyre who talked about his lived experience and how this photography project helped to support him and express his story. The Spirit of the Streets Choir provided a powerful performance reflecting on the impact of homelessness. 

Bernard Carney OAM leads the Spirit of the Streets Choir

Building to Ending Homelessness: Corporate and Community Action

Shelter WA partnered with the Property Council of WA on forum to develop corporate and community action in building more supply of affordable housing and well-designed cities in WA. The event was an opportunity to engage with industry on how we can work together to end homelessness through a housing supply approach.

Ending Homelessness in WA by 2030: Making the Strategies A Reality

The ‘Ending Homelessness in WA by 2030’ event was an opportunity for the sector to reflect on the work of the WA Alliance to End Homelessness (WAAEH) and its partners since the release of the WA Strategy to End Homelessness in April 2018, and to learn more about the WA State Government's 10-Year Strategy on Homelessness.

An Outcomes Measurement and Evaluation Framework for homelessness in WA was launched by Professor Paul Flatau, Ali Mollinger-Sahba, and Lisette Kaleveld from the Centre for Social Impact at The University of Western Australia (CSI UWA). The Framework, developed by CSI UWA for WAAEH, is a comprehensive, systematic approach to identifying, tracking and reporting data and draws from the voice of those with lived experience of homelessness. Along with its accompanying data dictionary and dashboard, the Framework is the first complete community-based outcomes measurement framework of its kind for homelessness in the world. 

[L-R] Lisette Kaleveld; Research Officer CSI UWA, Ali Mollinger-Sahba; Research Officer CSI UWA, Professor Paul Flatau; Chair in Social Investment and Impact and Director of CSI UWA

The 'Ending Homelessness in Western Australia 2019 Report’ was launched by the CSI UWA for WAAEH at this event. The Report is a 2019 update on the state of homelessness in Western Australia. The Framework and Report can both be accessed here.

Mr Gordon Cole, Chair of Noongar Mia Mia, spoke to their strategic plan and the importance of embedding Noongar culture as the foundation of their work. He reflected on the conversion of homes into offices impacting on housing affordability and housing supply. Mr Cole reiterated the importance of Indigenous Community Housing Organisations in providing housing opportunities for Aboriginal people.

Housing First Workshop

Bob Jordan’s Housing First Workshop was an interactive deep dive into how we can implement the best-practice housing first approach state and nationwide. Utilising the lessons from Ireland and other nations, the workshop provided opportunities to consider how we can apply this knowledge in WA. The workshop heard that transitional housing is no longer part of the service system in Ireland. Key to the success of the implementation of Housing First in Ireland was the establishment of an independent non-profit organisation to transform social service reform. This independent entity, Genio, holds a service reform fund which includes significant investment from government, philanthropists and the community sector.  Based on an action research model they ensure reform is informed by a strong evidence base and focuses on early innovation to system side change. Information on Genio can be found at https://www.genio.ie/our-work

The workshop included a live video cross to Los Angeles with Dr Sam Tsemberis who founded Pathways to Housing, the first Housing First Model. An interactive discussion was held between and workshop participants who asked questions including how to engage with government to embed Housing First into policy and how he addressed any NIMBY issues.

[L-R] Bob Jordan; National Director for the Housing First Program in Ireland, Professor Paul Flatau; Chair in Social Investment and Impact and Director of the Centre for Social Impact UWA

Mr Sam Knight from Ruah Community Services via a video call from Adelaide outlined the work of the 50 Lives 50 Homes project which involves 28 partner organisations from a range of sectors, including homelessness services, housing agencies, health providers, mental health and community services. He also provided an update on work being done in Perth to implement the Perth Zero Project, an approach that build an understanding of where people experiencing homelessness are at any given time and how they are moving out of the homelessness system. 

To coincide with the workshop on Housing First led by Bob Jordan, the WA Alliance to End Homelessness launched their latest resources on Housing First online. These include a discussion paper about Housing First in the WA context and some printable resources for organisations wanting to improve their understanding of this approach. 

This session was live streamed and can be seen on the Shelter WA Facebook page.

Homelessness Week Breakfast with Woodside Energy

Shelter WA and the WA Alliance to End Homelessness partnered with Woodside Energy to host a breakfast event Woodside’s Cara Auditorium. Around 200 people attended which included videos from the Homelessness Week ‘Real Stories’ Collection, a presentation from Bob Jordan on Housing First approach, an overview of the WA Alliance to End Homelessness and a panel session which discussed how whole-of-community approach can end homelessness. Woodside announced a significant partnership with a homelessness service provider.

Mythbusting Homelessness: We Can Answer That

This year we myth busted the stigmas to change the culture surrounding homelessness. People with lived experience of homelessness answered the tough questions people are too afraid to ask from the general public via video on social media. This project was conceived and led by the Lived Experience Working Group. Similar to the ABC TV series You Can’t Ask That, the group put themselves in front of three cameras and then respond to questions submitted online by the general public. No scripts, no pre-warning of questions and no professional actors, just pure, honest and heartfelt answers. We will be releasing an episode via the Shelter WA Facebook page each Thursday over the next eight weeks, we urge you to see episode one here.

Participants in the Mythbusting Homelessness Couch Conversation

The Real Streets of Europe with Lisa Wood

Associate Professor Lisa Wood (School of Population and Global Health, UWA) shared her international insights from a recent seven-week opportunity to visit and learn about homelessness responses across United Kingdom and Finland. Lisa talked about different programs that were leading to successful outcomes, and the importance of organisations employing people with lived experience, and many examples of social enterprises providing training and employment opportunities. 

Fundraiser

$9,312 was raised via GoFundMe for RUAH led 50 Lives 50 Homes’ Program. 50 Lives 50 Homes is a successful housing first program in WA that has housed and provided services for over 200 or Perth’s chronic rough sleepers. These funds expand the program and enable two more people to get off the street and into a home. 

A significant part of the fundraising came from the ‘Crankin Wheel Women’ a group of like-minded women who ride together and whom, like many other early morning cyclists are confronted with the realities of people doing it tough, sleeping rough on our streets of Perth. They called on the wider female cycling community in Perth to take part in a ride around the Swan River to raise awareness and funds for ending homelessness. We would like to thank Ms Michelle Coelho from Beyond Bank and Ms Cate Wray from the cycling group for their support and efforts in making this happen.

[L-R] Michelle Coelho; Crankin Wheel Women and Jenne Russell; Shelter WA

Next Steps and Actions

The next twelve months will be pivotal for homelessness policy in Western Australia. Homelessness Services are under pressure with the impact of the Equal Renumeration Order on service sustainability. Important lessons will be learnt from the extended openings of the Uniting Care West Tranby Centre and Ruah Centre to provide 24/7 support, including two dedicated safe spaces to rest at night and greater opportunities to engage and to assist people towards safe and secure housing. 

The State Government is developing a new State Homelessness Strategy for release this year. This work, being progressed through the Supporting Communities Forum, has strong links with the community sector and the WA Alliance to End Homelessness strategy. We will continue our strong advocacy for Housing First to be central to the strategy, along with the strategy acknowledging the critical need for diverse social and affordable housing options to end homelessness. 

Shelter WA in partnership with WACOSS sits on an across government Commissioning Working Group on Homelessness; a collaborative approach to the commissioning of homelessness services to support the implementation of the 10-Year Strategy on Homelessness. Shelter WA will work with the sector to lead engagement during this significant reform process. Information gained from Homelessness Week such as the policies and practise that were put in place in Ireland, including the establishment of a new not for profit entity, Genio, and a new service reform fund to drive collaborative change. 

The Outcomes Framework released in Homelessness Week is a comprehensive, systemic approach to identifying, tracking and reporting data that reflect the interactions across multiple levels and factors which contribute to preventing homelessness and sustaining and enabling exit from homelessness. This is a world-leading, seminal document that will enable us to have a collective approach to measurement, evaluation and accountability and we look forward to working on the implementation of the framework.

We will continue our strong advocacy with Tenancy WA and other peak bodies to shift public policy so that nobody in public housing is evicted into homelessness, and that people released from government institutions are not released into homelessness.

We will continue engagement with industry and the corporate sector as ending homelessness requires a whole of community response. Only through combined collective efforts will we make a significant impact. Shelter WA looks forward to working across the sector, with government, industry and the broader community to end homelessness in Western Australia.

The WA Alliance to End Homelessness is holding a pulse meeting on Wednesday 21st August to focus on Housing First. We invite all people interested in progressing this agenda to the meeting. Details are available here.

 


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