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14 May 2020

Compass Housing Services Supports People Experiencing Homelessness during COVID-19

Compass Housing Services (Compass) is supporting a new resource to help Newcastle and Hunter service providers who are supporting people experiencing homelessness during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Hunter Homeless Connect is distributing a 108 page printed directory this week which contains details of local support services with specific Covid-19 updates. Orica has funded the initial printing of 2,000 copies. Lake Macquarie City Council and the City of Newcastle are assisting with distribution.

Hunter Homeless Connect Day Co-ordinator and Compass Events & Community Relations Manager, Michelle Faithfull, said the directory is normally distributed at the organisation’s annual Hunter Homeless Connect Day event, which has been rescheduled to October.

Ms Faithfull said it is still uncertain whether the event will go ahead then so the committee’s priority is to continue to connect people in need with services and support now.

She said people experiencing homelessness are particularly vulnerable during this pandemic and need support more than ever.

“An increased number of people in our community have lost their jobs due to COVID-19 restrictions and many are now at risk of homelessness,” Ms Faithfull said.

“They face hardship and have no idea where to find support,” she said.

“They will also bear the impact of local support services being affected by social distancing restrictions. Support services are facing funding uncertainty, reduced volunteers and staffing availability.”

The Hunter Homeless Connect 2020 Directory contains information on crisis contacts, clothing, emergency relief, healthcare, housing, food providers, domestic violence, refugee services, drug, alcohol and gambling services, financial support, mental health, and pet care. There are specific sections for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, people with a disability and young people. A PDF copy is also available on the Hunter Homeless Connect website.

Ms Faithfull said Hunter Homeless Connect has applied for a grant to create a live, updateable online version of the directory on its website.

She said the directory is a compilation of current services available as at May 2020. It is not exhaustive and updates from organisations are welcomed.

Hunter Homeless Connect is a not for profit organisation initially founded by community services volunteers in 2009. For more information visit the Hunter Homeless Connect Day Facebook page or www.hunterhomelessconnect.org

Homelessness statistics

  • 145,000 Australian households are waiting for social housing.
  • 28,000 Australians between 12-25 years old are experiencing homelessness every night.
  • A survey conducted by volunteers at the 2018 HHCD event revealed that for the third straight year, women outnumbered men among those seeking assistance. The 40-54 age group (combined) represented the largest number of attendees.
  • The Australia Bureau of Statistics (ABS) said that 116,42 people were homeless on census night in 2016, representing 50 homeless people per 10,000. 1,750 of those were experiencing homelessness in the Hunter region.
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05 May 2020

Compass Housing to manage Qld Summer Housing SDA apartments

Compass Housing has been awarded a two-year contract to provide tenancy management and property management services at Summer Housing’s new Circa Three apartments in the fashionable and bustling Brisbane suburb of Nundah.

Summer Housing’s model is to pepper high support apartments within larger complexes.

Compass already provides such services for Summer Housing’s apartments in six other complexes in NSW and Queensland through its SDA fee for service management program. This includes the award winning Belle development in Lake Macquarie, NSW.

Applications for Circa Three are now open

Applications are now open for people with a disability who have SDA in their NDIS plans and looking for accessible, supported, modern, apartment living. People should apply through The Housing Hub website.

Nundah Village, just 8km from Brisbane’s CBD, surrounded by diverse shops, cafes, restaurants, services and transport links.

The ten spacious, open plan, single-level, apartments are designed for people with high physical support needs. The design achieves Platinum level certification under Livable Housing Design Guidelines and meets High Physical Support design requirements under the NDIS.

The apartments feature customisable kitchens, bathrooms and laundries, and wheelchair accessible private outdoor areas. They can accommodate customised home automation and communication technology and the future installation of ceiling hoists.

The average apartment size (internal area) is 71.4 square metres.

Beautifully appointed, the apartments boast European stainless steel appliances, stone bench tops, separate laundries, ample storage and large balconies. A landscaped alfresco area on the podium level provides residents with the perfect location to relax.

The delivery of Circa Three is the final chapter for the vision of a vibrant community master plan in one of Brisbane’s most accessible suburbs.

Compass also manages Summer Housing’s Belle SDA apartments in Lake Macquarie, NSW

The apartments are similar to the ones Compass manages for Summer Housing in the Lake Macquarie suburb of Belmont, in NSW.

The 10 apartments for people with disability are peppered throughout Belle, a 110 unit private development. There are two 1.5-bedroom, six 2-bedroom and two 3-bedroom apartments.

The apartments are close to transport, shops and community facilities. From the outside, the apartments are not distinguishable from neighbouring apartments.

Belle’s design also achieves Platinum level certification under Livable Housing Design Guidelines. A two-way communications system enables tenants to contact support workers in the event of emergency or unplanned support in each apartment.

This Summer Housing project, named Hunter Housing Project, was funded as part of the Hunter NDIS trial site in NSW in 2016 to provide accommodation for people with a disability inappropriately living in aged care.

Compass Housing offers fee for service SDA property and tenancy management

To find out more about our fee for service SDA property and tenancy management click here or call 1300 333 733 (Option5) or email sda@compasshousing.org

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01 May 2020

New report shows growth in SDA housing

A new report shows a welcome growth in the supply of, and confidence in, the SDA housing (Specialist Disability Accommodation) market in Australia but there remains a significant shortfall.

Specialist Disability Accommodation – Supply in Australia shows that close to 3,000 SDA places have been built or are in the pipeline. But it estimates 9,000 places are still needed to meet demand and many people with a disability currently living in poor quality homes.

The report says as at 30 September 2019 there were more than 1,766 new SDA places in the construction pipeline. The authors combined this figure with the 1,190 New Build SDA places reported in the NDIS Quarterly Report to calculate its 3,000 place pipeline figure. This compares to around 2,000 SDA places that were either new or in the pipeline in December 2018.

Much of the pipeline is for high physical support properties and there is still limited investment in robust housing, leaving a gap in the market.

A survey conducted for the report shows 50% of providers intend to build additional properties, with another 30% considering it. Almost three-quarters of respondents to its survey are at least somewhat confident in the SDA supply market. For the first time, the report investigated how SDA is being run – whether people with a disability are locked in to one provider or whether there is real choice. More than 20% of providers represented in the report are still not giving their tenants choice about where they live and who provides their services. 

The report  was produced by Social Ventures Australia (SVA) and Summer Foundation. As well as providing a snapshot on the growth of SDA supply, it shares insights on market sentiment and SDA management arrangements.

Compass Housing Executive Manager of SDA, Helga Smit, welcomed the findings and congratulated Summer Foundation and SVA for producing a report provides important planning data for specialist disability accommodation investors, developers, builders and providers.

Ms Smit agreed with the report authors that developers and investors need to consult with SDA providers and people with a disability to ensure accommodation is built where and how people with a disability want and need to live.

She said Compass was involved in bringing 65 new purpose built disability group homes online through Home4Life, with full completion expected by the end of 2020.

“We have more investors and developers looking to supply the market but we are working with them to ensure they build sustainably - to the needs of people, not build and hope they will come.”

She said the other issue is funding and eligibility for housing.

“People with a disability need to get SDA into their NDIS Plan to be eligible for housing,” Ms Smit said.

“Understandably, this process takes time for the NDIA to approve.”  

“Compass Housing currently has vacancies for some its high support SDA accommodation because people who need it are not approved.”

“You don’t have to have a specific property identified to get SDA in your NDIS plan.”


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15 Apr 2020

Trek for the Stars in Tasmania in 2021

In need of an adventure? There is an exciting post Covid-19 travel opportunity for people that will also help disadvantaged kids to realise their talent and follow their academic, sporting or artistic dreams.

Compass Housing Services is partnering with Inspired Adventures to run Trek for the Stars – Tasmania 2021 to support its Grow a Star youth mentoring and support program.

The five day trek takes place from February 6-10, 2021.

Compass Housing Services’ Events & Community Relations Manager - and trek leader - Michelle Faithfull, said this unforgettable adventure will take place in the, stunning, World Heritage listed, Cradle Mountain region.

“On this adventure, we will be trekking a variety of trails around the Cradle Mountain Village area,” Michelle said.

“From easy shorter exploration walks to day-long hikes and steep climbs up to beautiful lookouts, everyday you’ll face a different challenge,” she said. “Cradle Mountain is one of Australia’s premier trekking destinations. Rocky mountain peaks, buttongrass moorlands, glacial lakes, waterfalls and dense rainforest are hallmarks of this natural haven. And the funds you raise will assist in making dreams a reality for children that will improve their lives or provide a stepping stone to a secure future.”

Michelle said Compass Housing Services created Grow a Star to build the capacity and self-confidence in young people living in community housing to achieve their highest ambitions. The program has since expanded to help any disadvantaged young person to follow their dreams.  Too often, an opportunity to excel is closed off because of financial and family circumstances.

Grow a Star removes barriers by: funding specialist lessons or coaching; purchasing equipment or specialist clothing; funding sports club registration and representative fees; funding some travel expenses and excursions; funding costs of specialist elective school subjects; providing music lessons or the purchase of an instrument; and providing mentoring and support.

Michelle said the program has already supported budding rock musicians, athletics champions, lawn bowls specialists and ambitious tennis players.

“What we ask for is enthusiasm and commitment, which is not usually in short supply among our emerging Stars.”

The trek is described is having a moderate difficulty. To be involved you need to pay a $590 (non-refundable) registration fee, pay the $2750 travel cost and aim to fundraise around $3,000. Support is available to help you fundraise.
To register or obtain and information pack click here. For more information call 1300 905 188.

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30 Mar 2020

Specialist disability housing is one way to get young people out of aged care

New National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) data shows there are more than 5,400 people under 65 living in residential aged care. There were more than 6200 in 2017 but the numbers are way too high and account for about five per cent of all aged care beds. The number of younger people entering residential aged care each year is still more than 380.

The aged care system is designed to support the needs of older people, not younger people with disability. Nursing homes just don’t have the equipment, staff levels or medical knowledge to look after the health and wellbeing of a young person with fluctuating and very individual needs.

The Aged Care Royal Commission hearings highlighted the problems having younger people in aged care creates for younger people but also for aged care facilities and other residents. When the Commission released its damning interim report in October 2019 it recommended getting younger people out of residential aged care as one of three areas for immediate action, describing it as a "national embarrassment" and "human rights issue".

Specialist Disability Accommodation (SDA) is one solution to help young people access the rehabilitation needed to restore health and independence; and to live in the community as other able-bodied young people do.

Young people in aged care mostly have an acquired disability, as a result of catastrophic injury or through progressive neurological diseases, with complex support needs. They require support from different parts of the health and welfare system including health, disability and sometimes aged care.

They often end up in aged care from the hospital system. Once acute care is no longer needed, the hospital, understandably, looks to discharge the person as soon as is possible in order to free up beds.

But there are barriers to young people moving from the health system to specialist disability housing, rather than aged care, that we must urgently address.

The Australian Government has new targets to tackle this problem. It wants no people under the age of 65 to enter residential aged care by 2022, none under the age of 45 living in residential aged care by 2022 and none under the age of 65 will in residential aged care by 2025.

Prior to the Commission’s report it had developed a national action plan, commenced a new NDIS Complex Support Needs Pathway and announced significant reforms in SDA to improve choice and control for eligible NDIS participants, build market confidence and drive stronger investment.

But eligible people need to have SDA included in their NDIS plans up front so they, or the people who support them, can commission a home from the market that suits their individual needs.

The problem is that NDIS processes mean it takes time to get SDA in a plan and people with disabilities are not getting NDIS funding quickly enough to modify their houses or look for an SDA home.

Residential aged care facilities have places readily available while there has been a shortage of suitable disability housing and the NDIS has been much less responsive. Health practitioners lack knowledge of NDIS pathways and processes. NDIS processes delay hospital discharge so staff look for “easier” options such as aged care.

The national action plan aims to give young people in aged care with access to specialist NDIA planners via the Complex Support Needs Pathway to help them to exit and avoid residential aged care. We need support coordinators who can tap into housing and support options including SDA but many are unaware of the available SDA.

SDA providers are building more special disability housing. Compass Housing Services has vacancies in modern, high support, homes. We need more awareness of SDA amongst people with a disability, their families, and others in the community. I recently spoke to a mother of a person with a disability, who is also a disability worker, who was unaware of SDA and the need for it in NDIS plans. 

Every day I have the joy of seeing people with disabilities thriving in this new accommodation. They are learning new skills as they are supported to live more independently, in the community, rather than an institution. 

Let’s work together to make this a reality for more people with disabilities, including those trapped in aged care.

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