Written & Complied by Judith Shapland – Significant Impact – June 2016
This project was funded by Partners in Recovery (PIR) a program that works with individuals who have mental health issues and identify the need for recovery using the self determinates of recovery principles. PIR reported finding a recurring number of participants struggling with homelessness and housing affordability in the Douglas Shire.
In 2012 James Cook University (JCU) conducted a project, Homelessness in Douglas- ’It’s Much More Than Having a Roof Over Your Head”. A number of recommendations were put forward from this project, unfortunately, due to funding cuts and the lack of provision for an allocated position to follow up these recommendations these were not capitalised upon. There was an incredible amount of information gathered in the project and a request was made to me “not to reinvent the wheel”, but to take this project to the next level.
The report from the JCU project was an excellent document, the data and statistics provided an overview of the difficulties being faced by the Douglas Community regarding housing and the social drivers of this recurring need.
Acknowledging the lack of affordable housing in the region, I met with the Department of Housing (DoH) to understand why there was no increase in stock as this was clearly identified as a need in the JCU report. DoH stated they did “not receive enough housing applications to warrant more stock”, yet support services in the region clearly stated they were lodging significant amounts of applications. This identified an obvious issue regarding housing application processes. These may need to be further addressed in terms of communication, referral pathways or process in the future.
Realising that I would not be able make any significant impact with the houses on the ground in the short time frame of this project. I turned my focus towards the foundation of the project, being to propose a Recovery/Service Model for the Douglas Shire. I broke the homelessness issues down to the main social drivers including: Domestic Violence, Mental Health, and Alcohol and Other Drugs, and Youth Homelessness.