Excellence in Ending Homelessness - Diverse Groups Nominee
Partnership - Northern NSW SHS Alliance between OTCP (On Track)/Third Sector Australia, Jali Local Aboriginal Land Council, Northern Rivers Community Gateway, Women Up North, Casino Boolangle Local Aboriginal Land Council, Gurehlgam Corporation and Clarence River Domestic and Family Violence Specialist Services
Please give your reasons for nominating this partnership.
The Northern NSW SHS Alliance takes pride in always placing the people they support before anything else.
Coupled with a proactive, “no wrong door” approach it strives to improve the understanding of cultural and specialist diversity, whilst providing intense support services to indigenous people and their families at risk of or experiencing homelessness.
The seven organisations in the Alliance; On Track (OTCP), Jali Local Aboriginal Land Council, Northern Rivers Community Gateway, Women Up North, Casino Boolangle Local Aboriginal Land Council, Gurehlgam Corporation and the Clarence River Domestic and Family Violence Specialist Services, come together respectfully to discuss the needs of their communities and best practice to ensure it collectively provides a wide-ranging suite of client focused services, whilst ensuring privacy and confidentiality.
It is committed to maintaining strong relationships and working collaboratively with private/public sectors and NGOs to establish innovative solutions that seek to resolve the array of complex social, cultural, health and economic issues that contribute to indigenous homelessness.
“Thinking outside the box,” is how the Alliance approaches the early intervention, education and protection work with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities and has achieved cut-through by partnering with grassroot agencies that are hands-on in their communities.
The Alliance has a sharp vision of the importance of such a cultural approach, green-lighting programs outreaching to those smaller, aboriginal-specific agencies with trusted links to their people across Northern NSW.
Cooking classes, yarning circles and shopping excursions are just a few examples of the innovative methods designed to foster respect and acceptance as an empowering-people attitude to helping aboriginal men, women and children experiencing or at risk of homelessness.
Prevention of domestic violence and homelessness is a paramount focus but safeguarding those who need urgent help is a reality with the establishment of four crisis refuges for women and other transitional property accommodation options.
The Alliance maintains leadership in this sector is not about sitting behind a desk and forming strategy but listening and responding to those working in the field who have formed trusted relationships and provide a safe and comfortable place to seek help.
What outcomes were delivered as a result of this partnership?
According to the Alliance and its approach to understanding cultural sensitivities, it is not considered appropriate to assign KPIs or other traditional measuring tools when working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander groups, but demand on services reflect the recognition and acceptance of the program, as safe and trusted within these communities.
Almost 3000 aboriginal men, women and children accessed the range of services delivered across seven local shires.
I am honoured to provide a reference to the Alliance to support their nomination for outstanding work in the community.
In my role as Northern NSW Regional Engagement Manager for Aboriginal Legal Services (ALS), I have had the opportunity to engage with many communities, individuals, the not for profit and government sectors. The professional reputation and work ethic of the Alliance members is widely known, respected and proceeds them wherever they travel. This respect has been earned through the solid work that is carried out on a daily basis by staff. In my capacity, with the ALS, we have had the need to refer many clients with complex needs to the Alliance team who have carefully and sensitively worked with families and children to bring about a safe place and some hope for a better future.
I know the staff to be some of the most positive, resourceful and caring professionals I have had the pleasure to call colleagues within the community sector. The offices are welcoming and I have observed the clients that we refer to be treated with respect, dignity and cultural sensitivity. Feedback to the ALS is always positive when our clients are engaged with the Alliance team members. Our clients comment on the knowledge base and vast referral networks utilised by the Alliance to assist them.
The role is not easy, it is indeed one of the most challenging – homelessness, family /domestic violence; resources are limited – but that is never a block to the Northern NSW Alliance. The strength observed is also in advocacy – attending the inter agency meetings and other forums and always fighting the good fight to improve the lives of the most vulnerable.
As ALS, we recognise the incredible work carried out – over and above what is required of a group. It is my privilege to work in cooperation with the staff of the Alliance – I know they seek no accolades but the team, the Alliance are most deserving and worthy to have official recognition.