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The 3rd Annual Homelessness Forum Day 1: Key Takeaways

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3rd Annual Homelessness Forum

Due to the updated COVID-19 restrictions in Perth, the 3rd Annual Homelessness Forum had to proceed virtually. However, this did not stop more than 80 delegates from participating in the first leg of the three-day event.

After the opening remarks from National Co-ordinator of National Suicide Prevention and Trauma Recovery Project Gerry Georgatos, the forum started with a case study presented by Suzanne Hopman, the chief executive officer and co-founder of Dignity.

Photo of Suzanne Hopman

Suzanne Hopman of Dignity on Preventing the escalation of the early stages of homelessness to chronicity

Hopman’s case study, titled Putting an end to homelessness through prevention and early intervention goes into detail on how their organisation provides a trauma-informed, person-centric approach to temporary accommodation. Dubbed as the “paramedics of homelessness”, Dignity prevents the escalation of early-stage homelessness to chronic homelessness by providing people with alternative housing within 14 days.

The next presentation was by Newcastle City Council UK’s Claire Horton. As the city council’s Programme Lead Homeless Prevention and Financial Inclusion, she talked about the steps that Newcastle City Council took to alleviate their own homelessness problem.

Horton emphasised the importance of identifying and supporting people at risk of homelessness before reaching a crisis point. She also shared how the council coordinate efforts across services to maximise efficiency.

Before presenting her own case study, Starick’s CEO Leanne Barron went on a panel discussion with Hopman around the topic “Preparing for an increased demand in homelessness services.”

Panel discussion between Suzanne Hopman of Dignity and Leanne Baron of Starick.

For her own session, Hopman delved deep into Starick’s efforts in supporting domestic violence victims who are now also encountering homelessness.

In the afternoon session of the 3rd Annual Homelessness Forum, Mervyn Eades of Ngalla Maya gave the delegates a spirited talk about providing effective support for ex-offenders, particularly Aboriginal and Torres-Strait Islanders leaving prison to ensure a smooth transition back to society. As an Aboriginal man who has experienced incarceration himself, Eades talked about the factors that prevent people from getting their life back on track after serving their time.

The delegates also heard from Paul Tommasini, CEO of InCommunity Inc. who talked about the role of the private sector in the fight to end homelessness. Afterwards, he jumped into a panel discussion with Eades and Megan Krakouer, Director of National Suicide Prevention & Trauma Recovery Project and talked about tackling the challenges of public housing planning and access.

Megan Krakouer and Samantha Ugle

The final session was headed by Krakouer, who went into detail about developing culturally appropriate services for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people experiencing homelessness. Besides talking about the historical and cultural factors that contribute to homelessness, she also brought attention to the plight of Samantha Ugle, the mother of 11-year-old Annaliesse who took her own life November of last year after hearing that her abuser was set free.

Related: The 3rd Annual Homelessness Forum Day 2: Key Takeaways

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