Mary Wignell: Ironbark Community Support Service
- Agree with NGO sector representation - make sure it includes a broad cross-section of NGO sector representation. A mix of 'old and new' faces to offer the best informed advice and perspective.
- An updated data base should not take precedence over on-the-ground immediate action. The website data base should be kept simple and service providers should be widely consulted on an individual basis. The Job Services Australia already has this kind of data base. This type of model could be used - so don't waste time, energy and money re-inventing the wheel.
- NGO summit is a good idea.
Increase Not For Profit Housing Options
- An 'effective and proactive' working party would be useful.
Note: The dot points noted in this section are all of high priority but will not have any immediate impact on the homelessness crisis
- Increasing public housing stock should be an extremely high priority. Many of our clients have indicated a lack of smaller accommodation options. For example - studio style and 1 bedroom places. Most of this type of accommodation is currently only available (and affordable) through crisis accommodation - for example - hostels. Definitely look to more innovative ideas to house people.
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Address Service Gaps
- Definitely more crisis and medium-term accommodation should be a high priority. This area greatly impacts on our client base.
Rather than the idea of accommodation 'sheds' why not consider renovating/construction of self-contained, pre-fabricated, transportable accommodation units. Our organisation (Ironbark) are currently working on these type of projects which also provide some training and work outcomes as well as a sustainable, durable and aesthetically pleasing living space - at a minimal cost.
Managed caravan parks could work but why not use the idea of managed accommodation units (referred to above)/villages - more sustainable. People would be living in more of a community rather than in a trailer park atmosphere.
Managing Complex Client Needs
- There are actually a lot of specialist agencies out there - there just needs to be better coordination. This involves having a better understanding and a shared knowledge-base of the various key and relevant programs run by agencies. High level communication would be a key element of this type of coordination.
System Control Tool
- Strongly disagree with adding more and more layers of bureaucracy - the service system is likelt to become 'choked'.
- The central coordination base is not a very good idea at all. It would draw much needed funding away from areas which are more effective. More specialled and coordinated 'face-to-face' centres/places would be a much more effective way to use funds.
- Frequently with crisis accommodation it can be pure persistence of a service provider ringing and ringing. Also having established good networks and rapport with other service providers can be a key issue to finding a space for a client.
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NGO Workforce Development Strategy
- Pay people properly and fund effective professional development (PD) and training to encourage staff retention. Make PD easy to access and be realistic about strategies and planning to bring about effective outcomes for the staff and sector as a whole. Also be realistic about 'burn out' in this sector.
- Forums are useful if planned and coordinated effectively - and there is responsiveness to feedback and ideas presented.
Map Funding Sources
- Funding is often a 'moving feast' and I'm not sure how effective this strategy would be. I think concentrating on ways to implement joint funding proposals would help to eliminate doubling up and cross-over in the service sector. (Sometimes this is necessary but other times you end up getting two weaker services rather than a better coordinated effective one).
- More competitive tendering and collaboration of service providers would be very useful. NGOs have more of a capacity-building long-term focus as opposed to commercial interests.
Policy and Process Impedements
- Agree with most of these ideas.
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Use of Community Development Approaches
- A community development and empowering approach is always the best option however keep in mind that many clients who suffer from homelessness do so for many reasons - physical and mental health issues, emotional issues, alcohol and other drug issues. Many clients will always require more sustained and very long-term support. This is an area which is not being given enough attention.
- Give homeless people more opportunities (training and employment) to be involved in prospective housing projects.
Data Collection and Evaluation
- This should be considered and well planned at the beginning of any project/plan not tacked on midway through. Effective evaluation of big projects requires much coordination - it is often more useful to outsource evaluation to experts in the area of research.
Why can't there be some agreement reached to share some Centrelink data?? This would be a very useful base to build on.
Other General Comments
The majority of homeless clients require face to face contact re - services and referrals. Any kind of 24hr 'call-centre' for the homeless is absolutely a terrible idea and would be a disgraceful and misdirected use of funds.