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2017 Victorian Homelessness Conference Program



Ministerial address: Minister for Housing, Disability and Ageing, The Hon. Martin Foley

Keynote 1: Putting the home into ending homelessness – the evidence from Europe

Can we end homelessness without housing for people who have no home? How do we build an effective homelessness service system? Many European nations have adopted evidence-based ‘housing led’ homelessness strategies, but with different implementation approaches. Professor Eoin O’Sullivan, a leading academic on homelessness in Europe, and editor of the European Journal of Homelessness points to the way forward for Australia by comparing the approaches in Ireland, Denmark and Finland to highlight what works, and what doesn’t.
Discussant: Professor Guy Johnston, Professor Urban Housing and Homelessness, RMIT University


Panel: The NDIS – Is it working for people experiencing homelessness?

Under the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) people with severe and permanent disability receive individualised ongoing support. Will this meet the needs of the many people who are homeless and have a disability, or are people with more complex needs simply falling through the net? This panel will explore what’s working and what isn’t for people with disability who are also homeless.


Keynote 2: Trauma and adolescent family violence: Delivering better homelessness responses 

Young people who use violence in the home are often both victims and perpetrators of violence and commonly have experienced significant trauma. This presents complex challenges for both mainstream and youth homeless services. How can we both protect family members and best support young people with complex behaviour to become positive and independent adults with healthy relationships? What does our understanding of trauma bring to these problem solving efforts?

Dr Anita Morris, Principal Family Violence Practitioner, DHHS has a background in Health, Social Work and academia, and was formerly the manager of social work and allied health lead for the women's and children's division at Western Health. She has been appointed principal Family Violence Practitioner at the Department of Health and Human Services and will speak on these challenges in the context of Victoria’s family violence reforms.

Cocktail party and Homelessness Sector Awards



Keynote 3: Resolving homelessness for young care leavers

The Republic of Ireland has successfully reduced youth homelessness over the past 25 years. Starting with the Child Care Act, 1991 (which put in place a statutory right to services for homeless young people, including limited aftercare) through to Child Care (Amendment) Act 2015 (which provides an enhanced statutory right to aftercare), a combination of statutory entitlements and strategic focus on prevention, homelessness amongst young people (under the age of 18) has substantially declined. Professor Eoin O’Sullivan will explore the lessons of the Irish experience – with a particular focus on the last part of the lengthy process to end youth homelessness, the provision of an enhanced statutory right to aftercare.
PANEL DISCUSSION: Paul McDonald, CEO Anglicare Victoria

PANEL DISCUSSION: Aboriginal homelessness: Strengthening cultural responses/improving outcomes

Aboriginal people represent 1 in 4 clients of homelessness services, but there are few Aboriginal specific service responses. This panel will explore what is working well around prevention, early intervention, and tenancy sustainment with Aboriginal people experiencing homelessness, and where we need service reform?


PANEL DISCUSSION: Effective support post-housing

Once people experiencing homelessness are housed they often experience a new set of challenges – battling loneliness, managing unresolved trauma, and dealing with the day to day grind of poverty. A panel of people with a lived experience of successfully transitioning out of homelessness share their knowledge about what works, and what doesn’t, and pose some challenges for the homelessness sector.


Homelessness debate: Does transitional housing, continue to have a role?
Heather Holst, Deputy CEO, Launch Housing; Professor Guy Johnson, RMIT University; Michael Perusco, CEO, Unison

Swimming against the tide: Managing impossible demand

Demand for homeless services far exceed the sector’s capacity to respond, and continues to increase as broader inequality deepens. This session explores the innovations in demand management and ‘triaging’ homelessness in specialist homelessness services and debates how best to balance competing needs.
Panelists to include: Heather Holst (Deputy CEO, Launch)

GLBTIQ homelessness – understanding the gaps, delivering great responses

This workshop will showcase recent research about current needs and major gaps in service provision for LGBTIQ people who are experiencing homelessness looking at what needs to be achieved, and what are the major challenges at organisational and sectoral levels. You will then be asked to join the conversation to inform LGBTIQ national guidelines for homelessness services. This is policy in action –come ready to be part of the process.

Resolving tenancy issues: Learning about great practice from the specialist advocates

Homelessness is often the consequence of tenancy breakdown, which makes resolving tenancy crisis a critical skill in the homeless workers toolkit. In this practical workshop you’ll learn top tips from the experts, including how to use unexpected avenues to solve tenancies at risk.

Exploring the contemporary causes of family breakdown that contribute to youth homelessness

While there is no single cause of youth homelessness, breakdown of family relationships is most frequently identified as the ‘main reason' young people seek homeless help and feel unable to return home. We can improve our prevention and early intervention responses if we better understand the nature and causes of family breakdown. In this workshop, Melbourne City Mission and the Australian Catholic University will share findings from new research undertaken with young people and their families that explores the dynamics of family breakdown.
Presenters: Dr Justin Barker, Institute of Child Protection Studies, Australian Catholic University and Paul Turton, Melbourne City Mission

Reform reform reform: What has changed, and what remains to be solved?

New funding and significant reform have followed the Royal Commission into Family Violence. Reform has also been progressing into how housing and homelessness services are organised. This session explores and debates what reforms are taking place, what they might mean, and what remains to be done?

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