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Interview with J2SI pilot worker

J2SI takes a significant different approach from existing programs and sets a new benchmark for addressing long-term homelessness in Australia. In this article we interview a J2SI pilot worker.

Sacred Heart Mission is proud to run one of the most effective programs to end chronic homelessness. J2SI takes a significant different approach from existing programs and sets a new benchmark for addressing long-term homelessness in Australia. In this article we interview a J2SI pilot worker.

Generally speaking, what challenges were the participants facing?

The J2SI participants all had a history of chronic homelessness and were described as having multiple and complex needs. In general, this population had multiple episodes of accessing services and were considered to be the individuals that most required enduring support to break this cycle of homelessness and service dependence. Many J2SI participants suffered from issues relating to physical health, mental health, alcohol and other drug use, legal, financial and social problems. Many of the participants also reported a history of childhood trauma and abuse.

What were the benefits of having the time to be able to provide intensive support to your clients?

Intensive support over three years allowed the J2SI caseworkers to build relationships with their participants. This relationship in turn allowed the caseworkers to work with their participants in a manner that was trauma informed. The relationship fostered trust and the enduring support helped the participants to work towards their goals inside a therapeutic framework. A huge bonus of having such a long support period was that the goals could be approached, to most extent, in the participant’s own time. In this way, the support was more person-centred than traditional case management approaches. The caseworkers could also use their relationships with the participants to challenge the participants to explore their own abilities in a manner that could normally result in the person withdrawing from a service.

Can you give one example?

In one example, a J2SI participant had a history of “running away” when workers or organisations tried to assist with issues that were “too hard” for the participant to deal with. Their J2SI worker spent many hours visiting State Trustees in the city and other support services in different suburbs, in order to “bump into” the participant and provide on-the-spot intervention support. This response was eventually accepted by the participant and rather than find it odd that their worker would appear, the person started to expect the worker and be grateful for the response. This eventually resulted in the participant accessing Sacred Heart Mission to see the worker, however this process took months and was only possible because of the nature of the J2SI program. The resulting engagement meant that the worker could assist the participant to secure public housing and start to work towards their health goals.

Overall, what impact did you see the program had in the lives of the people you worked with?

Overall, the impact of the J2SI program appeared to be positive for the participants. The majority experienced periods of secure housing and were able to address issues relating to health, mental health, AOD, legal and final issues. Many were able to address their social inclusion goals. Some participants were successful in reconnecting with family and others secured employment. These outcomes were not easily achieved and the importance of the experience, if even for a short while, can not be overstated. Likewise, for many J2SI participants, the relationship they held with their worker was of great importance – it may have been the only positive relationship they were experiencing at that time.

Can you recall one particular event that shows the positive impact J2SI had on a participant?

One J2SI participant was able to maintain their housing immaculately – creating a real sense of “home”. They saved their Centrelink pension during the three years and managed to buy a brand new sofa, TV, coffee table and kitchen furniture. The person was incredibly proud of their achievements and stated this was where they wanted to be for the rest of their life. The pride in having a “home” that they could show off encouraged the participant to reconnect with family and have relatives come to visit. Having a safe and secure home allowed the participant to focus on their diet and shopping habits. They cooked meals at home and started addressing their health needs.

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