by Tony Clarke - Manager Northern Hub, VincentCare Victoria
With the advent of the homelessness and housing Launch Sites we are presented with a unique opportunity to enhance services for people experiencing or at risk of homelessness.
The creation of Launch Sites allows us to consolidate our programs into a range of easily navigated services. Our future service system should encompass five components: Access Model, Eligibility Criteria, Flexible and Responsive Coordinated Service System, Targets and Housing.
Utilising a co-design model, Launch Sites will be working with the sector to test and implement a revised service delivery model over the next two years.
Commencing with three pilot sites in Brimbank/Melton, Gippsland and Hume/Moreland, the Victorian State Government and the sector are showing a keen interest in simplifying the service delivery into four distinct streams: access and pathways, flexible funding, client support and a consistent approach to client assessment.
Examples of our collective innovations include a coordinated service system in Opening Doors, flexible brokerage funding for young adults to support their transition into private rental, early intervention programs, and targeted programs for clients experiencing mental illness and substance abuse.
With the number of varying programs on offer we need to examine how many clients are excluded from services based on the specified and multi layered criteria that filter them out? How do we take the innovations in given regions and for certain cohorts and apply these across all within the community?
With the current range of service eligibility and access guidelines, it can be completely arbitrary as to what resources a client has access to. This can be down to something as random as the day of the week they are assessed on or in what catchment they seek assistance, or it could be down to their age or gender. While the sector is highly adaptive and will often cobble together resources through a series of referral pathways, this is incredibly inefficient, unequitable and costly.
It’s time for us to develop a new service model which is focused solely on the client and helps them address their own needs.
With that in mind, what could the ideal renovated service system look like?
The first area of consideration should be our access model. The Opening Doors Access Point system has dutifully served clients for the past six years. However the funding of prevention and early intervention programs in certain regions has identified the need for Access Points to better assist this client group. Access Points need to be able to provide services not only to people in the highest need but also to respond to people who are entering the system for the first time.
Without a service system response that effectively supports clients to find appropriate accommodation or to sustain their existing housing, we know that they will remain within the service system for extended periods of time. This has significant impacts including the experience of trauma, poor physical and mental health outcomes and prolonged absences from education and employment.
Our support services continue to operate within and adhere to funding and service agreements that specify support episode timeframes that were often devised decades ago using out of date algorithms. Modern service delivery is person-centered and understands the value in achieving self-directed outcomes at the pace the client requires.
In summary, Launch Sites are an opportune time to move beyond the existing service system that is highly targeted and restrictively funded. Our service system should be able to identify and respond to the changing needs of our clients and community through flexible and responsive support models.
Manager- Northern Community Hub