Assistance for our homelessness service is much needed and appreciated
Since March 2020 when COVID hit, Unison’s homelessness teams worked tirelessly to assist over 1500 households. Whether it is through rent assistance or emergency temporary accommodation, our service spent over $8 million thanks to funding from the Victorian Department of Families, Fairness and Housing (DHHS).
Our Initial Assessment and Planning (IAP) service is one of the primary access points in the western metropolitan region of Melbourne for people experiencing, or at risk of, homelessness.
To assist with the demand for temporary hotel accommodation during COVID-19, our IAP service welcomed six new team members.
The contract positions were, in part, made possible through the $500 million Working for Victoria (WfV) initiative. The initiative is assisting Victorian jobseekers and employers, including businesses who need workers due to the impacts of COVID-19.
Peak body Council to Homeless Persons (CHP) have been instrumental in applying for WfV funding to support agencies across the sector with extra staff capacity.
Most of the new staff who have come on board at Unison are studying or have completed studies in social work or youth work and have varied experience volunteering or working in the sector.
"I didn't know of the incredible service demand until I experienced it working on the ground," said Marla, one of the new workers.
The sheer number of people requiring support quickly became evident to the group, and they soon realised how their positions provided the team more time and space; to speak to clients, for assessments and assistance, and to provide a more effective service.
According to IAP Manager, Rob Cavill, the six staff joined “at a time when our client numbers in hotels were at their highest (500), and they have brought good energy, humour and assistance to our team and service.”
It wasn’t easy for the new team members, as some of them joined Unison during the height of the lockdown and curfew in Melbourne. But, “they picked up the role quickly and impressively, and are very client centred, thoughtful and committed," Rob explained.
The group unanimously agreed that the Unison team’s support and confidence in them have been amazing, as has the relationships and sharing of resources with support services.
"I am really enjoying the Unison culture. I am learning a lot and gaining insight into housing support," said Ottilie.
“COVID has definitely revealed another layer of the human spirit," added Zoe.
We thank the group very much for their energy, positivity and for assisting us and our clients through this incredible time.
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