Excellence in Ending Homelessness - Young People Nominee
Program - Assertive Outreach Teen Pilot Program at Platform Youth Services
Please give your reasons for nominating this program.
In November 2016, Platform Youth Services (PYS), in partnership with Mercy Foundation, Wentworth Community Housing, and Mission Australia conducted a coordinated street count under the ‘Heading Home – Ending Homelessness’ Project. Through this survey, 18 young people were identified as sleeping rough across the Nepean Blue Mountains District.
As a result, PYS implemented the ‘Assertive Outreach Pilot’ Program (AOPP), to identify and locate young people aged 16 to 25 years, sleeping rough and couch surfing, within the Nepean Blue Mountains District.
The AOPP model is based upon the delivery of services and comprehensive support to vulnerable people in public places to assist them to overcome barriers which prevent them from accessing traditional services and resolving their homelessness issues.
The AOPP team focused on providing outreach services after hour, attending meal services and other first to know services to engage with young people within an environment that they were comfortable in. Through regular Outreach posts, vital referral pathways were established, that provided the intel of the whereabouts of young people sleeping rough, leading to coordinated patrols being conducted in public settings which enabled the AOPP to deliver more effective and efficient services.
Internal referrals, within PYS, also assisted in accessing practical resources such as; showers, food hampers, and direct access to crisis accommodation when needed. The AOPP undertook various models of engagement to support young people, including case management models such as strengths based, critical time intervention and trauma informed practice.
The AOPP also contributed to Platforms ability to rapidly respond and engage with young people requiring immediate assistance and support during a crisis period. Identification of young people requiring urgent responses upon Intake were directly referred to the AOPP, which resulted in young people receiving support within a much quicker timeframe.
What outcomes were delivered as a result of this program?
The statistical data captured through the evaluation of the pilot project indicated that the AOPP had made a significant impact upon the young people sleeping rough and or couch surfing within a short time period.
58 individual clients presented to the AOPP with crisis issues pertaining to homelessness. The evaluation found 33% of clients were identified as being Aboriginal, which correlates with PYS overall data that Aboriginal young people are increasingly represented in the homelessness data.
61% of clients presented as homeless with a further 35% presenting with issues pertaining to Domestic and Family Violence and Relationship Breakdown.
Clients moving into private rental increased at the end of support periods from 10 to 14%, with those who were couch surfing decreasing significantly by 22% and client moving into a leased tenure increased by 12%.
The evaluation found that the AOPP was successful in decreasing barriers to accessing Platform and other support services, It also saw that the timeframe for young people obtaining allocation and assessment for services decreased, seeing more young people serviced through Platform, AOPP and Glue Factory services.
Through the initial set up and the final evaluation of the Assertive Outreach Pilot Program, I had the opportunity to supervising the Team Leader. In between this period, another Manager oversaw the Team Leader and the project.
However, as a Manager (as well as the Manager overseeing Platform Data and Statistics) I was able to observe the impacts that the AOPP team and the project had on the overall service delivery and client outcomes. This was also evident to me in the evaluation stage of the pilot as I oversaw the statistical data analysist complying information for the evaluation.
It is clear from the evaluation that the AOPP provided valuable support and services to those young people in the Nepean Blue Mountains district that were identified as sleeping rough and or couch surfing. Platform had been given much intel that the numbers of young people sleeping rough was increasing within the older rough sleeper communities.
The AOPP was able to work in collaboration with the first to know services, such as emergency meal services, other charities, councils, police and health services to identify and locate the young people in need that were not accessing support services.
In the short time, the AOPP was able to successfully locate a significant number of young people as well as ensuring that this group were provided with the rapid engagement and case management support to assist them to pull down barriers to accessing housing and or other accommodation options.
The highlight that I noted when looking at the evaluation was the decrease in waiting times for young people to access services, as well as the increase in this group of young people having leases at the end of the support period.