Eight months ago, Broome local Taneese would have described herself as someone who lacked direction, followed the wrong crowd, was dependent on others and struggled with her mental health.
Fast forward to now, and the vibrant 22-year-old has managed to turn her life around thanks to the Department of Communities Housing Division's Employment and Education Housing (EEH) program.
The program provides affordable, supported accommodation for people accessing employment, education or training opportunities in regional centres, namely Broome, Halls Creek and South Hedland.
Preference is given to Western Australians of Aboriginal descent, who are supported to meet work and training requirements whilst also developing life skills to increase their independence.
The culturally appropriate accommodation considers the challenges and personal trials that come with being away from country, culture, tradition and kin.
For Taneese, finding a home at Broome EEH facility Nyirrwa Murrgurlayi, which is managed by MADALAH Limited, has allowed her to regain control of her life and work on her future.
"I didn't have much direction. I used to follow people – if everyone was drinking I would drink,” she said. “I was also relying too much on my parents and needed to be more independent.
"Living here is awesome – I absolutely love it. You get your food provided for you, you learn how to cook, you learn new skills, you can rely on them to pick you up from training and take you in the morning so you're not late."
Taneese is living at Nyirrwa Murrgurlayi while participating in the Work-Ready Program, which she hopes will allow her to transition into a building cadetship on the mines.
"I prefer physical labour because working with my hands is much better than being in the classroom and concentrating for long periods of time,” she said.
Outside her professional goals, Taneese has new personal goals: to get her own place and become stable, living outside of Nyirrwa Murrgurlayi.
Her case support worker Raylyn believes Taneese is well on her way to achieving her goals, having already come a long way since moving into the Broome EEH facility in June last year.
"Taneese really didn't have much direction on what she wanted to do but she always kept her head above water, and now that she's found a program she's interested in, she's giving it everything she's got," Raylyn said.
"She's really proving to her family and to herself that she can pursue her goals."
Communities has invested in several EEH facilities, with funding from the Australian Government under the National Partnership Agreement on Remote Indigenous Housing (NPARIH).
Burraluba Yura Ngurra in Halls Creek is managed by Wunan Foundation Incorporated and Mirnutharntu Maya in South Hedland is managed by YMCA WA.
In addition to NPARIH funding, Mirnutharntu Maya received funding and support from BHP, the State Government's Royalties for Regions Pilbara Cities Initiative administered by the Pilbara Development Commission, and the Department of Training and Workforce Development.
For more information, visit the Housing Division's EEH webpage.
Delivering improved outcomes for Aboriginal people
The Department of Communities offers a number of other program initiatives to deliver improved outcomes for Aboriginal people. These include building an engagement strategy with Aboriginal communities and providing enterprise and employment opportunities through its contracts to support Aboriginal businesses, apprentices and trainees. For example:
- Under the National Partnership on Remote Housing capital works program funded by the Commonwealth, the Aboriginal employment target has increased from 20 to 45 percent. Two years ago under the Kimberley Employment and Enterprise Program, Communities introduced a 20 percent employment target to all its capital, state-funded Kimberley town-based housing projects. This initiative has expanded across WA with the launch of the Aboriginal Employment Target Program, which sets regionally based employment targets for all construction and civil works commissioned over $250,000 and $300,000 respectively. Contracts in the property, tenancy management and maintenance areas are also used to provide opportunities for Aboriginal employment.
- The Transitional Housing Program, developed in partnership with the Wunan Foundation and Kimberley Development Commission, provides stable, affordable homes to Aboriginal people moving out of public housing. This program is helping participants build confidence and independence as they move into private rental and towards home ownership. The first successful participant to transition into home ownership was a single mother of four children. In May 2014, she achieved her home ownership goal, only 18 months after her entry into the program.
By combining the benefits of improved accommodation with the right support services and opportunities for employment, these expanded choices are delivering improved outcomes for Aboriginal people.