A partnership between Homelessness NSW,
Domestic Violence NSW and Yfoundations

Program - Boarding House Outreach Project at the Newtown Neighbourhood Centre

Excellence in Ending Homelessness - Adults Nominee

Program - Boarding House Outreach Project at the Newtown Neighbourhood Centre

Please give your reasons for nominating this program.

The BHOS team work in a unique and challenging context in Boarding Houses across the Inner West of Sydney. The team provides a high quality case management service for some of the most marginalised members of our community. The Team has effectively advocated for the rights of Boarding House residents and influenced changes to legislation several years ago to better protect those residents. BHOS was entrusted with a 5 year contract in partnership with Western Sydney University to research the impact of the BH Act.

BHOS works effectively with a broad range of partners across all parts of the service system - from Health and Aged Care, to the Tenants Union to the Property Owners Association. BHOS initiated a Boarding House roundtable which brings together these diverse stakeholders, including BH operators and residents, local Councils, and other service providers, to collectively discuss ways to improve the safety and wellbeing of residents and the overall performance of the BH sector.

One new initiative in 2017 was the BH Operators Good Practice Award, to identify those operators who are trying to provide a decent affordable housing option. In 2017 BHOS was also successful in receiving an inaugural Commonwealth Information Linkages and Capacity Building grant to work with realtors to improve their knowledge, awareness and confidence in relation to disabilities their tenants may be living with. BHOS played an active role in the SHS Industry partnership pilot project trialling Results Based Accountability as a methodology to report on outcomes. BHOS is still using this framework. The BHOS team all receive training in Trauma Informed Care, Motivational Interviewing and Mental Health First Aid. Monthly service reviews are undertaken to maintain service quality.

What outcomes were delivered as a result of this program?

BHOS has implemented Results Based Accountability over the last 18 months (including the initial 12 month pilot program).  Exited clients are contacted by a staff member who is not a Case Manager and asked a series of questions in relation to their experience of the service and the outcomes for them.  The combined results in relation to program performance are as follows for the last 18 months:
Were you treated with respect: 96%
Was the service helpful: 87%
Has your housing situation improved: 68%
Has your emotional wellbeing improved: 49%
Have your financial circumstances improved: 35%
Do you have increased confidence to take on future challenges: 77%
Do you feel more connected to your community: 51%
These results are discussed quarterly at team meetings and plans are put in place to address the trends identified.  Two priority areas identified are financial inclusion and community connection, and initiatives are underway to try and improve results in these areas.

Reference statement:

Paul Clenaghan from NSW Health

NNC's Boarding House Outreach Service (BHOS) would be a worthy recipient of this award.  The team is extremely well organised; are very focussed on the customer/ resident; have a bias towards action and from the leadership to the local workers have a very impressive commitment to best practices and solutions.

For many years BHOS have taken a lead role in directly providing high quality case management for Boarding House residents who are among some of the most marginalised people in our community.  I have worked closely with members of the team as part of the Healthy Strong Communities Service Delivery Reform.  The BHOS Manager has been a regular and active contributor to the Sydney Local Health District Implementation & Co-ordinating Committee (DIACC) which I have chaired.  In 2017 NNC initiated the inaugural Boarding House awards to highlight the good boarding house operators which were a great success, and showed the team's ability to work effectively across the many different stakeholders in boarding houses - from residents, to small business owners operating Boarding Houses, to the Property Owners Association and Real Estate Agents - all in the interests of improving the wellbeing of people in Boarding Houses.

As the Community and Partnerships Manager for Sydney LHD I have developed partnerships with dozens of organisations over the past 5 years. I have met and worked with this team over many years and even more closely over the past 5 years. The striking thing about this team is how they make the most complex issues seem rather simple – the issues are not simple but the team exude confidence and that “can do” attitude.

In my experience the team are passionately committed to the best possible outcomes for Boarding House residents and they go above and beyond to try and achieve those.