Acknowledgement of Country Project 40 acknowledges firstly the traditional owners of the land on which this meeting is being held. We pay respects to all elders, past and present, and to the Ancestors. We thank our Aboriginal brothers and sisters who have contributed their wisdom and their open hearts to Project 40 and to Wentworth Community Housing and who walk beside us in unity.
Homelessness in outer Western Sydney Lack of affordable housing – –low end renters forced into caravan parks, couch-surfing and motels Bottlenecks in service system –refuges and emergency accommodation full of people suffering housing crises Chronic homelessness worsens –Rough sleepers increase – rivers, caves, parks, bush, rural areas Outer Western Sydney has no funded services for rough sleepers –No hostels, shelters, outreach or support Aboriginal homelessness increasing –Barriers accessing mainstream services such as health, homelessness services
Why use a Housing first approach? Homelessness in Western Sydney is worsening Q: What would it take to end homelessness in Nepean/ Blacktown region? A: Tackle the hardest part first – the most vulnerable chronically homeless Moral argument– –rough sleepers die 25 years earlier ( Risk Factors for Death in Homeless Adults in Boston - J. O'Connell et al; Arch Intern 1998;158:1454-1460.) –Aboriginal people die 22 (female) -26 (male) years earlier overall (ABS 2010) Economic argument – this group uses more resources
Housing First approach: Implications for support Long-Term Homelessness: Understanding the Challenge - Dr Guy Johnson (et al) Social Inclusion Project (J2SI) argues case for different support model Dr Jim O’Connell Risk Factors for Death in Homeless Adults in Boston identifies risk factors that predict early death of chronically homeless SAAP funded for crisis and transitional support interventions – not the long-term intensive support needed for chronically homeless
Collaborative structures Nepean Campaign Against Homelessness established by homelessness networks & Wentworth in 2007 to lobby for P40 and Regional Taskforce on Homelessness Consortium of over 80 agencies signed letter of intent for P40 P40 Coordination Groups established in each of the 4 LGA’s (Blue Mountains, Penrith, Blacktown, Hawkesbury) Each comprise 20-25 agencies who work with homeless people Includes mainstream government, SAAP, generalist community, charities Allocated P40 packages and problem solve all referrals Regional Taskforce on Homelessness comprised decision-makers across region – 10 Year Plan to End Homelessness.
The Housing First model of supportive housing Pathways to Housing was established by Dr Sam Tsemberis Based on principles of: –Psycho-social rehabilitation –Harm minimisation –Consumer empowerment and choice 87% retention rate with documented outcomes Common Ground in the US also pioneers of Housing First Supportive Housing The model: –Separation of housing and support –Community integration –Recovery-oriented practice
Project 40 statistics so far (as at Nov 2011) Tenancies Adults Children Aboriginal 10 11 16 Other 17 25 31 Total 27 36 47
Support issues for P40 tenants Chronically homeless tenants are the most challenging to support: Complex and high needs History of chronic homelessness Difficult & chaotic behaviours due to trauma, mental health issues, brain injury, substance use/ abuse Need longer hours and intensive specialised support Current homelessness service system ‘s resources are stretched because of: Lack of staff availability Skills sets that are generalist – not specialised
Vulnerability Factors of Project 40 Adult Tenants Number Adults (out of 36 total) % Drug & Alcohol abuse 2261% Mental Health issues (diagnosis of schizophrenia spectrum, bipolar, depressive etc) 3083% Dual Diagnosis 1953% Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander 1439% Violence (DV or other violence) 3289% Trauma 3597% Chronic medical 514% Chronic homelessness 3494% Institutions (prison or out of home care) 1542% Disability 4 11%
Trauma of Project 40 tenants Examples….. Woke to partner who had died next to tenant, disappeared into bush and rough sleeping, victim of violent bashing in the bush Violence in prison, witnessed parent being murdered when a child Sexual assault of tenant’s children, threats of violence around drug issues, loss of family Bashed when rough sleeping. Witnessed petrol being poured on other rough sleeper who was set alight, loss of limb due to rough sleeping Violence during prolonged drug usage on streets, lost 4 children into care Loss of 6 children who were taken into care Death of partner from overdose, loss of 3 children into care Sexual assault whilst in care as a child, removal from family into care, violence around drug use, loss of children into care….. 35 of the 36 adults in Project 40 have suffered trauma as children or as adults
Elements of the Project 40 support model Flexible approach to support - home visits and outreach Holistic approach includes person’s emotional/ spiritual wellbeing Social integration – overcoming loneliness Culturally responsive through Aboriginal specialists Opportunity for consumer participation & empowerment (CHA CHEE) Peer support Low caseloads of workers
Assertive Community Treatment teams Access to clinicians for assessment and medication Mental health specialists trained for the P40 target group Dedicated P40 case workers Aboriginal services to connect to culture and country Vocational services Housing services – property and lease issues Towards a Peer support model
Building the Evidence Base – measuring outcomes Data collected 6 monthly to identify the effectiveness of the support interventions Administered survey Includes measures of: Housing and tenancy stability Financial outcomes Support outcomes – workforce participation, improvements in mental health, connection to mainstream, social inclusion Also collating tenancy data from Wentworth Community Housing’s system Collating support data from SHIP
Having a house has made a real big difference. I think I will live longer because I’m healthier in my body. Before, I was sick a lot. Now I can go to the hospital. I get proper food and I cook. It feels real good. I will most certainly stay here. And I’m helping other homeless people and that feels real good too. Kim ‘Kimbo’ Ballard, rough sleeper for 18 years
Me and my dog Emily have lived in a one-bedroom flat in Katoomba for five months. I was homeless for about 18 months before. I slept in my car a lot, in the back streets of Penrith, in the bush, on the beach. I picked quiet places and didn’t get hassled. Emily keeps me sane. I broke up with a partner and thought of committing suicide a couple of times because life just seems to dwindle away. But Emily got me through it. Now I feel pretty good – it’s to do with having a house and feeling secure. You feel a lot better inside yourself. I love my flat. It makes me toe the line because I have to be vigilant with money. It sounds funny, but I’ve got the freedom to know this is my place. Katoomba is cold but I’m comfy and warm. I might try and get my truck licence back and get a driving job if my back can handle it. Rodney, P40 tenant & Emily
My Project 40 house is the one thing that will help get my kids back. I have a baby and three other boys who are wards of the state. The Project 40 people understood that I needed a house to get my kids back. Now I have room for my kids, I am determined to prove that I deserve my kids back. I’m an advocate for Project 40. Laura, P40 tenant and CHA CHEE Consumer Advocate Email for copies of detailed workshop paper Stephanieb@wentworth.org.au