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Members Awarded at Council to Homeless Person's Victorian Conference

Congratulations to all the organisations, programs and individuals that were recognised for their outstanding contributions to ending homelessness in the 2019 Victorian Homelessness Achievement Awards, presented at the Council to Homeless Persons Victorian Shaping the Future Conference from 14-15 October. Congratulations go to our member organisation that were nominated for awards, and particular congratulations to those who won awards:

• McAuley Community Services for Women – for the McAuley House integrated service model, which provides safe and stable accommodation in houses in Footscray and Ballarat. The program also tackles complex legal, health and financial issues that can prevent transition to stable new lives.

• Vincentcare  (pictured below right) - for an outstanding contribution to preventing or ending homelessness in Victoria for diverse communities. Vincentcare launched a comprehensive review of its sites, systems, programs and practices to identify how best to support LGBTIQ clients and maximise their housing outcomes; which increased referrals of LGBTIQ clients from other organisations and the development of training resources and practice guidelines.
Read more about this work and the award on VincentCare's website, here.

• Sacred Heart Mission – Margret Thorpe, Manager of Sacred Heart Community (pictured top right with her award) received the Leading Practitioner Award. Margaret steered Sacred Heart Community from being a low care residential service to an award-winning resident-directed model which now provides a ‘home for life’, including palliative care.

The Conference was opened by the Hon. Richard Wynne, Minister for Housing, Planning and Multicultural Affairs. The Minister announced the expansion of the Private Rental Assistance Program (PRAP) with PRAP Plus – a $4.8 million initiative to provide 25 outreach workers across the state to support tenancies. In addition, some PRAP funding will be redirected towards support workers and housing brokers to help solve issues when there are tenancy breakdowns and to find more appropriate properties. Twenty-one extra private rental brokers will be deployed across the state for two years to help locate and negotiate for private rental properties.

Key note speakers Dr Stephen Gaetz, President and CEO, Canadian Observatory on Homelessness and the Homeless Hub and Melanie Redman, Co-founder, President and CEO, A Way Home Canada spoke about Canada’s progress and efforts made to end Youth Homelessness.

Canada has been gradually moving focus towards homelessness prevention. In 2018, the Canadian Government released a homelessness policy Reaching Home which included the following priorities:
• Chronic homelessness reduction by 50 per cent by 2027-8
• Homelessness in community reduced overall for specific populations
• New inflows into homelessness are reduced
• Returns to homelessness are reduced.

A Roadmap for the Prevention of Youth Homelessness (exec. summary) has been develops that describes the areas and levels of change required to address and prevent youth homelessness:
1. Structural Prevention
2. Systems Prevention
3. Early intervention
4. Eviction prevention
5. Housing stabilisation
6. Duty to assist.

A full copy of the Roadmap and other resources, tools, models and research can be found at The Homeless Hub. Click here.

Council to Homeless Person’s Parity magazine was launched at the Conference and features articles from Canada - Preventing and Sustaining Exits from Youth Homelessness in Canada (volume 32-Issue 8.)

My take-away messages from the conference were:

• Canada has focused on encouraging and supporting local community solutions that use co-design principles to engage young people who experience homelessness. There is not a ‘one-size-fits-all’ or standardising approach; rather tools and models are adapted and tailored to suit specific local needs. An active pan-Canadian Practice Community through the Canadian Observatory on Homelessness and A Way Home, ensures learnings, improvements and outcomes are shared with other communities.
• Homelessness services are not responsible for ending homelessness – all service sectors (health, education Government) have an obligation to prevent homelessness by ensuring their structures and systems lead people away from homelessness, rather than towards it.

Claire-Anne Willis 15 October 2019.

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