For the past three years, Sacred Heart Mission
(SHM) has been working closely with 60 people experiencing homelessness to get housing and to stay in that housing, while they work towards personal goals such as improving health and independence, connecting socially, finding work, or returning to study.
The second iteration of SHM’s Journey to Social Inclusion (J2SI) program
, which started in 2016, officially finished in March 2019. At the end of the program, 85 per cent of people remain in safe and appropriate long-term housing. SHM Program Coordinator Michelle Skog says the program’s positive outcomes go beyond housing.
“A steady 9-12 per cent of participants have returned to work with 9 per cent consistently employed over the past 18 months, which is really positive considering about half are receiving a Disability Support Pension,” Michelle says.
“Ultimately, we know J2SI can support people to build safety and independence in their lives, improve their health, and reduce their need to rely on crisis services. Long term, this can significantly reduce homelessness, demands on health and emergency services, poverty related crime, and the likelihood of jail time.”
While celebrating outcomes such as housing and employment is important, J2SI staff are quick to emphasise the diverse client achievements, which the flexibility of the program promotes.
“Achievements are relative for people participating in the program and the support is tailored for each individual,” Michelle says.
“It can seem a simple thing for someone to take public transport on their own, or have a mobile phone, but these might be big steps after someone has experienced years of social isolation or significant mental health issues. For someone else, a step might be engaging with support to deal with their legal issues, turning up to a men’s shed, or sitting down to write a resume.
“Others have gone to university or trained to become Peer Support Workers helping others with similar experiences.”
With various positive outcomes to report, it is no surprise several staff members will work on the next J2SI phase.
Recruitment for Phase Three (second intake) begins in April. Taking learnings from the pilot and Phase Two, J2SI will become available to another 60 people, bringing the total clients supported by J2SI Three to 120 of the planned 180.
Sacred Heart Mission's vision is to now roll out the J2SI program across Australia through a licensing arrangement with other homelessness agencies in order to end
chronic homelessness across the nation. With increased reach and scale,
this will create greater impact on this complex social issue.
Find out more about Journey to Social Inclusion.