New homeless services portal to remove barriers to getting help
The State Government is developing a $2.3 million online data and case management system to make it easier for people experiencing homelessness to access appropriate accommodation and other frontline services when they need them.
Community Services Minister Simone McGurk today spoke about the Government’s investment in the new Online Homelessness Services Portal today at an event hosted by peak body Shelter WA for the Western Australian launch of Homelessness Week.
The portal, which is being developed in partnership with the community services sector, will implement a No Wrong Door approach across the sector for the first time in WA, making it easier for people experiencing or at risk of homelessness to find appropriate long-term housing and support regardless of which service or agency they initially connect with.
The Department of Communities has been working with the community sector, service providers and people with lived experience of homelessness to map the existing referral pathways, gaps in the network of supports and opportunities to strengthen the system.
This led to a blueprint for a centralised digital database of homelessness services across the State that agencies and providers can use to check – in real time – which service is available and best placed to support and meet a person’s specific needs at any time.
The portal will have the dual function of holding accommodation and support service information and availability, as well as the information and data of people who are experiencing or at risk of homelessness. This data will only be shared with homelessness service sector staff when consent is provided.
Following the co-design of the No Wrong Door blueprint, which has been led by the community services sector and will guide the development of the portal, the Government will soon seek expressions of interest for a suitable IT consultant to design and develop the portal.
The announcement comes as Homelessness Week 2020, which runs from August 2 to 8, aims to raise awareness of the experiences of people sleeping rough and the actions required to address homelessness.
The 2020 national Homelessness Week theme of ‘Everybody needs a home’ will be supported locally with a specific focus on homelessness outcomes for First Nations people.
The McGowan Government has achieved several milestones in its push to address homelessness since the launch of ‘All Paths Lead to a Home: Western Australia’s 10-Year Strategy on Homelessness 2020-2030’ in December last year.
The central Perth site for the first of two Common Ground facilities that will house and support chronic rough sleepers was announced last month. The facility, to be built near Royal Perth Hospital, was made possible by a record $71.7 million new investment in services to support evidence-based homelessness outcomes.
This package includes $34.5 million for the Housing First Homelessness Initiative, which will provide stable housing for 170 families a year across Perth, Rockingham, Mandurah, Bunbury and Geraldton through rental subsidies.
As part of the WA Recovery Plan, the Government has also invested an additional $6.8 million in a range of specialist homelessness services, to ensure immediate delivery of homelessness services to those in need.
“The McGowan Government understands the complexity of this issue and is committed to supporting people experiencing homelessness,” said Community Services Minister Simone McGurk.
“The Online Homelessness Services Portal represents a significant shift in the way that Western Australians access homelessness services – from a system that vulnerable people have to work through, to one that works for them.
“It will make it easier for people seeking help to navigate the system and change the way that support is offered.
“People experiencing homelessness will be able to walk in to any organisation or agency, get the number for an appropriate service and know that they will be taken care of.
“During Homelessness Week, it is important that we do our best to understand the challenges faced by rough sleepers and people experiencing homelessness every day.”