housing and healthcare for victorian families

Posted on 3rd August 2022

coheath is continuing to provide health and social support to people facing barriers to healthcare as a partner organisation for the Homes For Families program.  

Two hundred and fifty families, including 500 children, are still living in emergency accommodation due to the pandemic, and Homes For Families will transition them into heavily subsidised accommodation for the next two years.  

“There was a recognition from the sector that those families needed a pathway into secure, affordable and sustainable housing,” says James Duffy, cohealth Acting Homelessness Lead.

“But there was also a recognition that these families have complex health and social issues that may include family violence, problematic drug and alcohol use, and mental health concerns.”

Homes For Families is not just about getting families into housing. Alongside housing, families are supported to access wraparound health, family, and social supports that will give them the best chance of maintaining their tenancy. 

Referrals into Homes For Families will come from the homelessness entry point and both cohealth will coordinate with other organisations to provide targeted support. 

cohealth’s specialist team will be made up of a community mental health worker, a community health nurse, and an alcohol and other drug care and recovery clinician.  

A multidisciplinary team allows cohealth to provide the best range of services for people’s needs, and join the dots between their social, mental and physical health needs.  

Families will also be given anything they may need to set up their home, including furniture, bedding, and cooking utensils and equipment.

“We’re also trying to make it a home for children,” says James. “There’s been a lot of thought put into toys and books and things that these families might struggle to get for their children, things lots of people take for granted.” 

The Homes For Families team will also be able to connect with other teams across cohealth in order to support the health and wellbeing of individuals and families. 

For example, if the team identifies that a family needs help with nutrition and healthy eating, a cohealth dietitian that sits within the homeless health and support services team can be engaged through a supported referral. A supported referral means that the team will prepare the referral with families, taking them through the process and making sure they have control over what services they’re connected to.  

Homes For Families has taken lessons from similar homelessness programs that arose out of the pandemic. The emphasis is on listening to people and placing people in homes that are right for them,” says James.

“It’s about understanding where people want to be and what communities they have connections in. There’s been a lot of thought and consideration put into housing people in homes and locations that are suitable for them and that meet their needs.”  

With cohealth supporting family members with their health needs, and specialised family support on hand to ensure children are cared for, the Homes For Families program aims to create both stable accommodation and a pathway to permanent homes for families.

“Our focus is improving the health and wellbeing of people in this program,” says James. “If we improve their health and wellbeing, the flow-on effect will be happier families and sustained tenancies.”


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