Homelessness is an emotional experience for everyone involved – from the people who experience homelessness to the workers who come into daily contact with people who need urgent assistance. In such a highly charged environment, it’s inevitable that misunderstandings will occur and issues will arise. In Victoria the Homelessness Advocacy Service (HAS) has been operating out of CHP for nearly 10 years. The only service of its kind in Australia, HAS is an advice, advocacy and information service for anyone who has a problem with a homelessness or housing service. And consumers aren’t’ the only people who can contact HAS, workers can and do contact HAS for secondary consultation or advice and to refer clients for advocacy.
This is an example of a scenario where the HAS advocate would be able to assist:
Bob (not real name) contacted HAS and advised that he had to leave his crisis accommodation because he had broken a house rule. Bob acknowledged he had done the wrong thing but was distressed that he might have to sleep rough as he didn’t know where else to go. Bob asked for help to prevent the eviction and ask for another chance.
The HAS Advocate contacted the service and it became clear that there had been a communication breakdown. Whilst he had had broken some rules he had not been told to leave, though they advised that further breaches would certainly mean this was a possibility. The HAS advocate helped broker a contract that made clear what the consequences of further breaches would be and Bob was relieved to know he could stay. Bob and the service were both happy with the outcome.
This is just one example of the types of issues HAS can address.
HAS opened in 2005, after the Victorian Government’s Homelessness Strategy recommended that the rights of people experiencing homelessness be better protected. At that time, HAS set out to achieve the best outcome for all parties, underpinned by human rights principles. That commitment to upholding human rights for all is something that motivates the service to this day.
To get in contact with HAS email Angela Kyriakopoulos or call 1800 066 256.