Rough Sleepers Initiative Expands to Frankston and Dandenong

Early this year the Rough Sleepers Initiative (RSI) expanded to Frankston and Dandenong. RSI supports individuals who often have complex needs, are vulnerable and the majority have experienced long-term homelessness. RSI assertive outreach workers provide an assessment and intake into the homelessness system, case management, assistance with emergency accommodation, and a pathway into crisis accommodation and permanent housing.

 RSI Coordinator Emma Murray gives us some insight into her daily routine, as she prepares for a busy year working to assist some of the most hard to reach individuals in the community.  The RSI has support workers based at Launch Housing’s Dandenong crisis accommodation site and assertive outreach workers are co-located at NEAMI in Frankton.

By Emma Murray, Rough Sleepers Initiative Coordinator Frankston and Dandenong

“Six years ago I started at Launch Housing in the Accommodation Options for Families program; since then I’ve worked in various rough sleeping and mental health support worker roles. Now, I lead 12 staff across three municipalities, City of Greater Dandenong, City of Frankston and City of Geelong.  I start my day with an early morning meeting to see where everyone is at and plan the day.

(Image: Emma Murray, Rough Sleepers Initiative Coordinator )

After that, I’m out networking with local councils, healthcare services, police and community services. The aim is to build partnerships and find more referral pathways to benefit our clients.

Our assertive outreach workers have made their way through every street in Frankston and Dandenong. We have been receiving referrals from members of the community but also, community services, local council, and police.

In Dandenong we have received many referrals from the reception at Bob’s Place(Launch Housing Dandenong crisis accommodation site) where many of our RSI work from. Bob’s Place has a public shower and many rough sleepers come to the site for a shower and are then referred into the program.

(Image:  Launch Housing’s Rough Sleepers Initiative team at Bob’s Place in Dandenong)

Besides a lack of housing, many of our clients in these areas also have mental health challenges. So, connecting them to Monash Health Dandenong Hospital and other healthcare services is vital. Without a stable home, it’s difficult for people sleeping rough to access healthcare, especially ‘primary care’ such as a nurse or health centre.

Our partnership with Monash Health Dandenong Hospital also means we can support people exiting hospital. The hospital can place individuals in a rooming house, and then we step in, offer extra support to ensure the client maintains housing.

This approach helps to break that cycle back into homelessness, and means we can also link back to the hospital, as we have Bolton Clark Nurses integrated into the RSI team.

For outreach workers at Bob’s Place, it’s been interesting to see that the on-site shower, which provides 300 showers a month to locals, presents an opportunity to chat to people and link them into support services.

I’m really pleased to get some good results for rough sleepers so far, and it’s nice to find those short to medium term solutions for people such as accommodation in a caravan park or rooming house. Also, we secured an ongoing lease for a client the other day. Now, that’s a great feeling!

It’s particularly grand to partner with NEAMI, a national, not-for-profit organisation providing services to improve mental health and wellbeing in local communities. We also partner with Melbourne City Mission, Monash Health, Bolton Clarke Nurses and Ngwala.

This year our supportive housing team have assisted 34 clients, with long-term case management support. Most of these referrals have been from the assertive outreach team and our Monash Health senior social worker.

While our assertive outreach teams in Frankston and Dandenong have had 200 referral and supported 61 clients since the start of the program early 2019. ”

Learn more about Launch Housing Dandenong (Bob’s Place).