Homeless people are set to benefit from a change that came into effect on 11 February.
This is when services provided by Department’s Homeless Advisory Service (HAS) transition to Centrecare, which has been awarded a contract by the Department for Child Protection and Family Support to operate the Homeless Assessment and Referral Service.
Project Manager, Peter Cappendell said that the transition to the not-for-profit community services organisation will be undertaken for a two-year pilot period.
“The Department recognised a significant opportunity to improve the service to the community by transitioning the Homeless Advisory Service to Centrecare, who will integrate the service into their broader community service programs,” he said.
The HAS was established by the Department in 2002 to provide information to primary and secondary homeless persons and link them directly to crisis accommodation service providers in Western Australia. In 2009, two full time positions were transferred to Housing Direct to manage the HAS.
Housing Direct Manager, Libby Atkins said her branch was currently taking an average of 665 calls a month on a dedicated HAS line while operating the service between 8am and 5pm, Monday to Friday.
“Since 2009 we have helped a lot of homeless people by referring them to relevant agencies and accommodation,” she said.
“However, the Department for Child Protection and Family Support—rather than the Department of Housing— is tasked by the government with addressing homelessness, so transitioning our limited service to them will be a better fit and should provide better outcomes for homeless people.
“The HAS was only ever intended as a referral service; if there were no empty beds at the places we referred people to, there was nothing more we could do.
“Centrecare has established a program they call ‘Entrypoint’, which while not case-managing homeless people, keeps track of those who have been homeless for some time, or have become homeless more than once. They will have records of people they regularly help and Centrecare can be a one-stop-shop for the homeless.”
Ms Atkins said that the transition would deliver a better outcome for homeless people.