Homelessness Week: Gift from Casuarina

Shelter WA was honoured to be presented with a beautiful painting by staff and students of Casuarina Education Centre during homelessness week. Ten art students created this large painting for a NAIDOC week exhibition, on the theme  “Because of her, we can.” The exhibition was held in the Perth Concert hall in July 2018.

Although this was a cultural themed painting, Australian indigenous and non-Indigenous artists  worked together to create it.  The artists had the choice to sell this painting or to gift it. They all decided to donate this painting to Shelter WA. The connection between the justice system and homelessness is strong.

Interactions with the justice system occur disproportionately among people experiencing homelessness – both before, during and after their incidence of homelessness. One in four people were homeless or in insecure accommodation before entering prison. (Kaleveld, L et al 2018) Sharing this experience with students from Casuarina during Homelessness Week was a moving experience and Shelter WA is proud to be a recipient of this artwork.

Homelessness Week: Gift from Casuarina

Shelter WA was honoured to be presented with a beautiful painting by staff and students of Casuarina Education Centre during homelessness week. Ten art students created this large painting for a NAIDOC week exhibition, on the theme  “Because of her, we can.” The exhibition was held in the Perth Concert hall in July 2018.

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Homelessness Week: Couch Conversations

Homelessness doesn’t end with the end of Homelessness Week. Recognising this reality, there was no closing event scheduled in 2018. Instead, the last event of the Week was a Couch Conversation. Held at the City of Perth Library, an intimate group heard from two speakers with lived experience of homelessness.

While their stories are not Shelter’s to tell, we can tell you that Kai and Maggie were engaging, thoughtful – and different. One of the great benefits of listening to their stories was the reminder that people become homeless in many ways, and experience it differently too. A point of commonality for both Kai and Maggie was how intensely, and chronically, stressful being without a home was.

This Couch Conversation was only one of many held across WA during Homelessness Week. Over the next few weeks, we’ll be sharing stories from other events.

Homelessness Week: Landlords Making a Difference

On a rainy Thursday night in Homelessness Week, over 50 people turned out to hear about things landlords can do to prevent and respond to homelessness.

Aunty Millie Penny, an Elder Co-Researcher with the Telethon Kids Institute’s Ngulluk Koolunga Ngulluk Koort (Our Children Our Heart) welcomed attendees to Nyoongar country. She spoke movingly and encouragingly of the impact a compassionate landlord had had on her family when she was a child.

Trish Blake of the Department for Mines, Industry Regulation and Safety provided the group with important information regarding changes to tenancy legislation that will make it easier for victims of domestic violence to leave or stay in their rented homes, depending on which is safer for them. Ms Blake noted that in addition to improving outcomes around family and domestic violence, these changes are also likely to result in less abandonment of properties and reduced repair costs for landlords.

Stephanie Hing, representing the RSPCA, talked about the benefits to landlords of making their properties pet friendly. Of interest to the group was her suggestion that landlords who were concerned could request a pet resume, prepared by a vet or other professional with knowledge of the animal. It was noted that where landlords had had a good experience with a particular pet, providing a written pet reference was likely to be very helpful to their tenants.

Diana MacTiernan of the Equal Opportunity Commission talked about the economic and significance of housing, and the protection housing has under the Equal Opportunity Act 1984. The Act allows for certain kinds of positive discrimination. Landlords may be interested in seeking out tenants from a particular group known to be discriminated against in the rental market. Ms MacTiernan encouraged them to contact the Equal Opportunity Commission to talk through ways of doing this that are consistent with the legislative requirements.

 

Kate Davis of Tenancy WA noted that one of the barriers to longer-term leases in WA is the current framing of the Residential Tenancies Act 1987, which can lead to tenants facing prohibitively high break-lease costs. Ms Davis made some suggestions for how landlords might negotiate longer term leases by voluntarily including a provision for termination by notice. She noted that in some cases, tenants may be reluctant to ‘impose’ on landlords by asking for necessary maintenance. She suggested that landlords proactively ask their tenants about maintenance needs. This will have the subsidiary benefit of ensuring that minor issues are fixed before they become major ones.

The final speaker of the night was Sadie Davidson or the Real Estate Industry of WA, who talked about the benefits of professional property management to landlords and tenants. The ongoing training required of property managers should mean that landlords and tenants both have access to an informed person who has the latest knowledge regarding ongoing changes to the Act. Good property managers can provide a balanced approach to dispute resolution.

Landlords are a critical – but sometimes invisible – part of our housing system. Shelter WA is excited by the potential for engaging with this important group, as we work towards a housing system that works for all of us. 

 

 

Homelessness in WA: A review of the research and statistical evidence

Based on data from the 2016 Census and Registry Week collections, Homelessness in WA: a review of the research and statistical evidence is a critical addition to the knowledge base of all Western Australians working to end homelessness.

The Hon Simone McGurk MLA, Minister for Community Services, launched the report at a well-attended event on Friday, 10 August.

The report was prepared for the Department of Communities by a team from the Centre for Social Impact including Lisette Kaleveld, Ami Seivwright, Emily Box, Zoe Callis and Professor Paul Flatau.

Professor Paul Flatau gave a comprehensive overview of the report. While the overall incidence of measured homelessness decreased in WA between 2011 and 2016, the rate of rough sleeping increased to 4.4 per 10,000 of the population. This was significantly higher than the Australian average of 3.5 per 10,000 and represented around 1,000 people sleeping rough on any given night.

According to the report, ‘the stand-out statistic of WA’s homeless population is that Aboriginal people comprised 29.1% of the homeless population on Census night, which is a significant over-representation when considering that people identifying as Aboriginal make up only 3.7% of the overall Western Australian population.’ Aboriginal people experience every form of homelessness, but are particularly over-represented in both primary homelessness (rough sleeping), and forms of tertiary homelessness, particularly severe overcrowding.

As noted by Minister McGurk, the State and Federal governments are in an ongoing disagreement over funding for remote Indigenous housing. Professor Flatau made the point that any response to homelessness in WA must include a response to overcrowding in remote Indigenous communities. The complete report can be found on the Department of Communities’ website.

Homelessness Week: Sector Update

Over 70 people attended the Sector Update on Wednesday 8 August to hear about the strategic and policy work happening in the area of homelessness.

The event opened with a warm Welcome to Country by Aunty Millie Penny, an Elder Co-Researcher with the Telethon Kids Institute’s Ngulluk Koolunga Ngulluk Koort (Our Children Our Heart) project. The scene-setting continued with a thought-provoking recording of a conversation with a client of UnitingCare West’s Tranby service and Tony Hagan.

Introduced by Kathleen Gregory, Chair of the WA Council on Homelessness, the Hon Simone McGurk MLC spoke about the importance of co-ordinated work across government, and with the community sector, on the drivers homelessness, including mental health, domestic violence, children leaving care, alcohol and other drugs, etc.

The Minister also announced $750,000 funding for the work of the WA Alliance to End Homelessness over the next year.

The Minister’s presentation was accepted by Michelle Mackenzie, CEO of Shelter WA, and members of the WA Alliance to End Homelessness. Shelter WA will be the backbone organisation for the delivery of the Alliance’s work going forward.

John Berger, CEO of St Bart’s and a member of the Alliance, thanked the Minister. He identified four key areas of activity for the Alliance over the next year:

1. Placing a high priority on working with people with lived experience of homelessness;

2. Developing action plans to end homelessness with specific cohorts (young people, Aboriginal people) and in regions and other locations;

3. Identifying concrete goals and a framework for measurement; and,

4. Working with the development and construction sectors on measures to increase housing supply.

Debra Zanella, Co-Chair of the Supporting Communities Forum Working Group on Homelessness talked about the importance of recognising that we are develop a new and evolving ‘ecsystem’ to achieve the goal of ending homelessness. The Working Group is co-chaired by Grahame Searle, Director General of the Department of Communities, and will influence the development of the State Government’s homelessness strategy.

Emma Colombera, Project Director, 10-Year Strategy on Homelessness at the Department of Communities, updated attendees on the progress of the National Housing & Homelessness Agreement. WA is currently negotiating the bilateral portion of the NHHA. She identified the end of 2018 as the target date for completion of the 10-Year State Homelessness Strategy, which will build on the 10-Year Strategy to End Homelessness developed by the Alliance. In the short term, this will involve consultations in metropolitan and regional areas across September and October 2018. 

Jacqui Herring, Executive Director Stewardship at the Department of Communities spoke about the Department’s commitment to commissioning for outcomes. The Commissioning & Sector Engagement Directorate is currently in a discovery phase, developing a shared understanding of the full range of commissioning and procurement currently undertaken by the Department, following the Machinery of Government changes. Future commissioning for homelessness services will respond to the State Government’s 10-Year Strategy, as well as being informed by an assessment of the capacity of the sector and the most appropriate approaches for given commissioning work.

Through the event, Karyn Lochore, Senior Policy Officer at Shelter WA, developed a visual representation of the various areas of activity and how they relate to each other. The session ended by identifying key next steps.

The Case for a National Housing Strategy

Shelter WA hosted a roundtable with Adrian Pisarski, National Shelter’ Executive Officer, to discuss role of national policy settings on affordable housing and housing affordability, and to make the case for a national housing strategy.

“Co-ordinating and linking the policies, legislation and resources that impact on housing affordability across Commonwealth agencies, and in partnership with State and Territory and Local Governments, towards a common goal is critical for all citizens to access the housing that they need,” said Mr Pisarski. “This includes taxation reform, urban and regional development, financing affordable housing, rental reform and a review of income support.”

The National Shelter policy priorities can be accessed in full here and as a summary here.

“These policies priorities are structured  to highlight that housing affordability and affordable housing are critical issues for how well our cities and regions function, for productivity and for enabling social, economic and cultural participation.” said Mr Pisarski. “For too long housing has been neglected and nothing short of a National Housing Strategy is needed.”

Shelter WA Submission - Green Paper on Planning Reform

The Minister for Planning commissioned an independent review of the planning system to identify ways to make it more efficient, open and understandable to everyone.

A Green Paper on Planning Reform was released on 25 May. Submissions were invited on the Green Paper, with the feedback received to be used to inform a White Paper which will be provided to Government for consideration.

Shelter WA has long advocated for planning reform to deliver more social and affordable housing supply, and supports the intention and principles behind planning reform.

In listening to our membership base, Shelter WA has heard many frustrations from the community housing sector, community sector, developers, builders and individuals, with the current Western Australian planning system in facilitating social and affordable housing and housing affordability.

Shelter WA is hopeful that these reforms will go some way in addressing these issues.

To read our submission, please go to:

http://www.shelterwa.org.au/submissions

 

Industry Roundtable

Industry Roundtable

Shelter WA, in partnership with the Master Builders Association, convened an Industry Roundtable to discuss strategies to facilitate more affordable housing. 

Representatives from the housing industry, real estate sector, development and building industries and government joined with community housing providers, research institutions and community service organisations to discuss current barriers and blue-sky opportunities that can be collectively progressed.  

Attendees have given a commitment to meet again to progress key initiatives and to champion these to government.

Shelter WA would like to thank Mr Ian Carter AM for chairing the roundtable, and his ongoing support of this initiative.

Roundtable I

Roundtable II

Aligning Mental Health with Housing and Homelessness

The WA Government is in the process of developing a 7 year mental health, alcohol and other drug accommodation and support strategy with the aim of providing better accommodation and services for people for people living with a mental illness. This will be aligned with the WA Mental Health, Alcohol and Other Drug Services Plan 2015- 2025 and the WA Affordable Housing Action Plan and the WA State Homelessness Strategy - when it is finalized.

The link between mental health and homelessness is unfortunately very strong, and evidence shows that mental health problems are exacerbated by homelessness. Aside from being stressful due to the lack of stability, people experiencing homelessness often don’t have the emotional support of family and friends that are crucial to good mental health. For this and many other reasons people with a mental illness often experience homelessness for longer periods, and are at a higher risk of multiple periods of homelessness.

Mental health problems were the second most cited reason for seeking assistance from specialist homelessness services around Australia (just slightly behind financial problems). And due to the unpredictable nature of mental illness, it is possible that this figure is in reality even higher. The affordable housing crisis is also contributing to problems for people living with a mental illness.

Due to the constant demand for public housing, many people with a mental illness find it difficult to secure suitable accommodation. Further, in many parts of the community there is still a stigma attached to mental illness which makes it even harder for people to secure housing, especially in the private rental market. Research also shows that people suffering from long-term health conditions such as mental illness are likely to experience multiple disadvantages such as low income and difficulty finding and maintaining employment.

At a homelessness week event in 2017 the Mental Health Commissioner, Tim Marney, said: "43% of mental health patients could have been discharged if they had a safe home to go to". Given the crucial role that housing plays in creating the basis for someone to address other problems such as mental health, this is both a challenge and an opportunity for the WA government to get greater alignment between mental health, housing and homelessness policy and service delivery.

Member Profile - Activ Foundation

In 1951 a group of families who believed their children living with intellectual disability deserved better, came together in support of each other. They envisioned choice and freedom for all, where people living with a disability had the opportunities to enjoy full participation in their community and empower them to pursue the life they choose.

That group evolved into Activ Foundation, one of the largest disability services providers in Western Australia. Their history and that fundamental belief in people is what still drives Activ today.

With over 65 years of supporting people living with intellectual and developmental disability means they love what they do and have a passion for people. The foundation is privileged to support more than 2,000 individuals and their families across Western Australia - of these roundly 300 clients receive accommodation services. Activ’s purpose, vision and values all combine to explain what they stand for and why you can believe in them to provide these quality services.

Through its head office in Wembley, Activ has a large number of employment, accommodation and community sites across the Perth metro region. You can also find the foundation in Esperance, Kalgoorlie, Albany, Busselton, Bunbury and Geraldton. 

Across Western Australia, Activ has approximately 1300 team members who work hard to provide a secure range of services including:

Accommodation: Activ helps individuals achieve and maintain a level of independence in their own home through its shared and independent living options.

Home and Community Care: Home and Community Care provides support to people living with disability to maintain independence in their own homes.

Supported Employment: Activ provides meaningful employment to more than 1,000 people living with disability across metropolitan and regional Western Australia. Employees work in a team environment and are encouraged to develop their skills and abilities in a modern working facility. Through ongoing support from our professional and dedicated staff, employees are encouraged to work towards achieving their personal goals. 

People, Skills and Community: Activ’s community and lifestyle supports promotes participation in everyday life and provides customers with the opportunity to try something new, meet new people and develop their independence.

Library: The Activ Library is a knowledge centre for disability information in Western Australia. The library has more than 8,000 items including books, DVDs, training materials and journals, with a strong focus on intellectual disability and autism.

Pathways: Activ Pathways, our registered training organisation, delivers nationally recognised courses and qualifications enabling participants to develop their work skills and increase opportunities for rewarding employment.

Respite: Adult and children’s respite services allow carers of people living with disability the opportunity to recharge, relax or attend to other commitments while also providing people with disability the opportunity to meet new people and try new activities.

Activ sees the advantage of Shelter WA membership through being represented by a peak body in the housing arena, as the foundation believes we need to work together as a sector, disseminate the important sector information, have a strong sector leader like Shelter WA to represent its views to industry and Government.

Funding for Remote Indigenous Housing Unclear 

The war of words on the funding of remote housing between the Commonwealth and WA governments continued this week in the media and at a major meeting at Yule River in the Pilbara. ‘The West’ reported that:

“Federal Indigenous Affairs Minister Nigel Scullion faced an at-times heated crowd at the Yule River bush meeting in the Pilbara yesterday, where funding for remote housing was a key talking point among traditional owners.”

To date, there is no indication that the governments are any closer to coming to an agreement on this important issue.

 

Background

In October 2017 Minister Scullion released the report of a review into remote housing that he had commissioned. It stated:

“By 2018, the Strategy will have delivered over 11,500 more liveable homes in remote Australia (around 4000 new houses and 7500 refurbishments).

This increase in supply is estimated to have led to a significant decrease in the proportion of overcrowded households in remote and very remote areas, falling from 52.1 per cent in 2008 to 41.3 per cent in 2014–15. The Panel projects this will fall further to 37.4 per cent by 2018.”

The reports two leading recommendations were:

  • A recurrent program must be funded to maintain existing houses, preserve functionality and increase the life of housing assets.
  • Investment for an additional 5,500 houses by 2028 is needed to continue efforts on Closing the Gap on Indigenous disadvantage.

The funding crisis is a product of decades of Commonwealth, State and Territory dysfunction.

The case for an extension of the funding for remote housing is crystal clear. This is about a choice between short-term considerations and investing for the future. Without a renewed commitment, we will witness a slow-motion national crisis. The imbalance between the short-term benefits of reduced investment and the longer-term social, economic and health costs is leading to decisions that are not in the nation’s long-term interest.

Safe, clean and secure housing is fundamental to physical and mental health, emotional well-being and family and community safety and stability.  It is a key element of the Commonwealth Government’s priority of Closing the Gap on the significant disadvantage that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people often face in terms of health, education and employment.

 

Housing as foundational for health and wellbeing

Adequate housing is a fundamental requirement for improved health, education and social wellbeing. The impact of inadequate housing in relation to health is diverse and the adverse effects may be related to the availability of housing, housing design and construction, the condition of the house and surrounds.

While threats to health as a result of poor housing are common to other disadvantaged groups, the history of colonisation and the relationship of Aboriginal people to their land add to the significance of housing conditions as a determinant of health for Aboriginal Australians.

Housing also provides general socioeconomic status and provides a conduit for family services to be delivered. The two are interrelated and the general consensus it that they should operate together, and that lack of these services are generally associated with other negative social and economic influences.

Research to date shows:

  • housing among Aboriginal peoples is worst in the country
  • Poor housing affects health of people in dwelling;
  • Good housing supports good health, educational advancement, good self-image
  • Good housing is essential
  • Recognize that good housing is essential to health and wellbeing of Aboriginal people.

Six of the key issues that consistently generate greatest concern for Aboriginal people are complex and interlinked. 

Governments, researchers, policy makers, along with Aboriginal leadership struggle with the enormity. It is impossible to isolate just one issue as being the worst.  But all seem to point to housing being foundational to good outcomes.

  • Poorer health

There have been strides made on the part of many Aboriginal communities to improve education around health issues, but despite these improvements, Aboriginal people remain at higher risk for illness and earlier death non-Aboriginal people. Chronic diseases such as diabetes and heart disease are on the increase. There are definite links between income, social factors and health. There is a higher rate of respiratory problems and other infectious diseases among Aboriginal children than among non-Aboriginal children - inadequate housing and crowded living conditions are contributing factors.

  • Lower levels of education

Colonialism accounts for many bitter, demoralizing legacies, the most pervasive of which is education - the root of this particular legacy is intergenerational trauma and dislocation as a result of child removal policies and practises.

  • Inadequate housing

The inadequacy of housing for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people has been widely acknowledged.  ‘Adequacy’ of housing includes quality of basic services, materials, facilities and infrastructure; habitability; affordability; accessibility; legal security of tenure; and location and cultural adequacy.

  • Higher rates of unemployment

Aboriginal peoples have historically faced higher unemployment rates than non-Aboriginal people.

  • Higher levels of incarceration

In the twenty-six years since the report of the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody was tabled in the Parliament of Australia, the proportion of the prison population that is Indigenous has doubled. 

Indigenous Australians are dramatically over-represented in the criminal justice system, in each state and territory. While Indigenous people represent only 3 per cent of Australia’s total population, they make up more than 27 per cent of our prison population and 55 per cent of the youth detention population.

  • Higher rates of suicide

And the most tragic of all is the higher rate of suicide among both Aboriginal adults and young people.

 

Some possible policy solutions

All Governments should have policies that fund the following:

  • Building more houses

Governments to reduce the national housing backlog. This backlog needs to be reduced in metropolitan, urban and rural populations as well as remote locations.

  • Building better houses

Shelter is highly critical of the cycle that have introduced ‘new ideas’ to reduce the short-term capital cost of houses, which have then consequently reduced housing standards, increased running and maintenance costs for residents, and led to premature housing failure.

  • Keeping houses working

High quality initial construction and regular routine maintenance is required (as in any Australian home) to prevent house failure.

  • Local people employed to keep houses working

Governments should assist in building up and maintaining the capacity of Indigenous communities to manage their own housing and essential infrastructure.

  • Local organisations developed and supported to keep houses working

There has also been a lack of adequate support for those Indigenous organisations which have demonstrated the ability to deliver and maintain housing services through constantly changing government policy regimes over many years.

Shelter WA and all stakeholders in housing are hoping that the Federal and State Governments will reach a clear and positive agreement as soon as possible, to ensure Indigenous and remote communities are properly supported into the future.


WA End Homelessness Alliance - EOI

The Western Australian Alliance to End Homelessness is delighted to announce that it is seeking expressions of interest (EOI) for a core team to implement the WA Strategy to End Homelessness.

If you would like to get involved we would love to hear from you. We are currently looking for expressions of interest from people with some or all of the following skills and experience:

  • Lived experience of homelessness and the desire to improve services either by leading a group of peers or simply giving your voice
  • Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander people with homelessness policy and stakeholder engagement experience
  • Project or program management experience
  • Stakeholder engagement skills, in particular with high impact and influential people
  • Delivery of public campaigns to understand and shift perception
  • Large scale systemic capital fundraising

The Alliance will have positions available part time or full time on a contract basis across a range of pay grades, but at this stage we want to stay flexible and find out who is excited by this project.

If you would like to find out more please email a copy of your CV to shelterwa@shelterwa.org.au and in no more than 350 words respond to the question:

“Why am I interested in the Western Australian Alliance to End Homelessness and what would I bring to the team?”

If you would like further information please contact Sam Knight via 0438 491 711 or Sam.Knight@ruah.org.au.

Please express interest by COB Tuesday, 31 July 2018.

https://www.endhomelessnesswa.com

 

Grants to shine a light on homelessness and improve Shelter WA's IT 

Shelter WA has received two Lotterywest grants, which will go towards shining a light on homelessness in Western Australia and upgrading our information technology.

Community Services Minister Simone McGurk presented the grants to Shelter WA Board Member Neil Guard and CEO Michelle Mackenzie, at a member forum.

Shelter WA received the grants to raise awareness about homelessness in Western Australia, during Homelessness Week 2018, and to enable Shelter WA to upgrade its website, as well as social and digital platforms, to ensure more impactful communications.

Mr Guard thanked Lotterywest and Ms McGurk for their support, before speaking about the importance of the grant for Homelessness Week 2018.

“A reference group, Chaired by Shelter WA Board member Kathleen Gregory, is overseeing this year’s program with representatives from the WA End Homelessness Alliance, WA Association for Mental Health, Local Government and the Youth Affairs Council of WA,” Mr Guard explained.

“Shelter WA is collaborating on a series of events for Homelessness Week 2018, which include  ‘couch conversations’ with people with lived experience of homelessness; updating the sector on developments in homelessness policy and activities and a forum on how landlords can make a difference to preventing homelessness.”

Mr Guard explained how several homelessness week events grants have been awarded to support community initiatives to amplify the voices of people with lived experience into the conversation. 

Mr Guard said that the funds, for the Information Technology project, are an enabler to drive more systematic, strategic engagement and advocacy; ensure our social and digital communication is more impactful; better engage with stakeholders and our members and harness collective action.

He handed over to Ms McGurk who acknowledged Lotterywest for its generosity in supporting community organisations.

The Minister then spoke about her portfolio as Minister for Child Protection; Women’s Interests; Prevention of Family Violence and Community Services and that collectively we need to work together to ending homelessness.

“We are pleased to be able to upgrade our technology, which will help us move forward as an organisation,” Ms Mackenzie said.

“The funds for the IT upgrade are crucial for us in the development of an effective, affordable housing system and bringing all parts of the system together to influence change.

“Shining a light on ending homelessness is of course critical. We look forward to seeing you all at Homelessness Week 2018 events, which will run between Monday, August 6 and Sunday, August 12.”

Need pro bono construction or design skills ?

A chance encounter with an Australian, on a train in Europe, led Canadian engineer Margot Matthews to Perth where she enjoyed a stellar career in engineering, before recently deciding to combine her experience, knowledge, skills and values to help community groups realise their dreams.

It was 1987, when Margot Matthews met the Australian and their quick 15-minute chat led her to a 25-year-long engineering career with Western Australian’s leading companies.

However, a few years ago, Margot Matthew decided she needed a change, not only to balance family responsibilities, but to realise her dream of helping community organisations realise theirs.

 

 

 

Margot Matthews is now managing director of COLAB.org an NFP that connects built environment professionals, including architects and builders, with community groups that need pro bono services.

The concept is reasonably simple, the execution is a little trickier, Ms Matthews explained.

“Basically, I introduce community groups, that need design, construction skills and advice to built-environment professionals.”

 

Ms Mathews recently matched the organisation Arup with an Aboriginal organisation in the north of Western Australia.

“Arup recently completed engineering work, on a pro bono basis, for the Aboriginal Males Healing Centre (AMHC) in Newman, Western Australia,” Ms Matthews said.

“Arup found their ‘payback’ for doing this work went far beyond anything they could have imagined.

“The organisation’s staff members had immense satisfaction from doing the work and their level of engagement with AMHC clients and the project was palpable.

On a deeper level, the project enabled Arup to bring meaning and real connection to their Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP), Ms Matthews explained.

AHMC was of course thankful, with its founder Devon Cuimara, last month travelling to Perth from Newman to launch Arup’s RAP.

Ms Matthews said she was always delighted to see how COLAB.org is able to ensure employees build their skills and develop new, professional relationships and experiences that lead to future work opportunities.

To prove its validity of the model and establish a firm foundation, Ms Matthews has provided her services, on a pro bono basis, for the past three years to ensure the organisation has grown.

The engineer works from an office in Dalkeith, that is supplied. However, going forward she is looking for a sponsor to pay her a salary.

“We need to find about $320,000, each year, over the next three to five years. The money would pay for my salary ($80,000) plus a support worker with $200,00 earmarked for a website and marketing and possible expansion interstate.)

Ms Matthews will be presenting a case study on cross-sector collaboration and partnerships at this year's Social Impact Summit 2018 on Thursday, July 19.

Contact Margot Matthews at margot@colab.org.au   0422 532 789