Our advocacy

Advocacy is at the heart of everything we do at Sacred Heart Mission.
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Our commitment to advocacy is deeply embedded into our vision, mission and values.

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Sacred Heart Mission’s advocacy is focussed on addressing the underlying causes of deep, persistent disadvantage throughout Australia.

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What is advocacy?

Advocacy involves recognising, promoting and defending the rights, wellbeing and interests of people who are chronically disadvantaged or vulnerable.

Anyone can be an advocate. It could be for a person, a group of people, a cause or a policy.

When an organisation or group of organisations speak up for those who have common issues or needs, this is called systemic advocacy. Systemic advocacy is about influencing and changing the system – through legislation, policy and practices – in ways that will benefit vulnerable and disadvantaged people as a group within society.

By engaging in systemic advocacy, Sacred Heart Mission encourage changes to the law, government and service policies and community attitudes. It also means advocating against changes to laws that are likely to cause harm to our community.

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Ways we advocate

There are many ways to be an advocate – here are some of the main ways Sacred Heart Mission advocates on behalf of our community:

  • Participating in research and evaluation – to measure the impact of our services and identify where there are gaps.
  • Working collaboratively with other like-minded organisations and peak bodies, sharing knowledge and working towards joint goals.
  • Raising public awareness of key issues – signing and sharing petitions, holding events.
  • Writing directly to the media or politicians
  • Contributing to Victorian and Commonwealth inquiries, such as Royal Commissions.
Women's House team working in their office

Key advocacy areas

Sacred Heart Mission focuses on key issues that are critical to our client cohort.

1. Access and eligibility (for people experiencing profound exclusion and disadvantage)

The people who access Sacred Heart Mission often encounter multiple barriers to accessing services, particularly if they have complex needs and are highly vulnerable. Sacred Heart Mission is dedicated to addressing the underlying causes of disadvantage. Key topics we focus on are long-term and chronic homelessness, access to the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) and ageing and homelessness.

2. Affordable, safe, accessible, and secure housing

In November 2020, the Victorian Government announced a record $5.3 billion investment in social housing, which will significantly boost the housing supply in Victoria. The advocacy on social housing does not stop here – and is even more vital in our recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic.

We are campaigning to ensure social housing supply is delivered, and that what is provided is targeted, diverse and of high quality, and specific housing is available for people with complex needs. We will continue to advocate to the Commonwealth for greater investment nationally in social and affordable housing, and to replicate our award-winning Journey to Social Inclusion (J2SI) program and the Evaluation & Learning Centre (ELC).

Birds-eye view of a city

3. Impact of trauma

Sacred Heart Mission was involved in research on Trauma and Homelessness in 2016. The research explained the cyclical interrelationship that exists between trauma exposure, long-term homelessness, mental health difficulties and social disadvantage – trauma drives homelessness. Based on the research we have adopted a trauma-informed practice, and advocate for trauma informed models across the community services sector.

4. Economic and social inclusion

Many of the people we work with are excluded from both economic and social participation activities – employment, volunteering, education and training, pursuing their interests and accessing activities within the wider community. We advocate to government on these issues, to break down barriers to participation. This includes:

  • Social inclusion – research demonstrates participating in society and having people you can rely on are key factors of health and wellbeing and one of the most powerful predictors of positive outcomes following exposure to trauma. Social inclusion involves feeling accepted within your local community and being able to contribute to society in a meaningful way, through participation in mainstream activities and exercising basic rights. Many people who access our services have experienced persistent social exclusion.
  • Economic participation – homelessness and the issues that often accompany it – trauma, mental illness, addiction – often result in exclusion and create financial and other barriers to people fully participating in the economy and society. We want to reduce these barriers and support people to engage in activities meaningful to them including work, training or volunteering.

How we advocate is different, depending on the issue and what is likely to have the greatest positive impact. In some cases, we drive the advocacy activity – through a campaign, a policy submission or working with key stakeholders. In other cases, we join or support a larger campaign and participate in peak bodies activities.

Sacred Heart Mission considers and responds to other issues as they arise, including issues that are prominent in the media where we believe there will be a significant and/or negative impact on our clients.

Statement on the Draft Religious Discrimination Bill

Our organisation, services and shops are places of welcome. We are committed to ensuring that our services and workplaces are safe and welcoming for all people, regardless of their sexuality, gender orientation, marital status, ability or beliefs. We also join with other community service organisations with a faith background to speak out on the Religious Discrimination Bill, to urge the Government not to implement the Religious Discrimination Bill as proposed.

How to get involved