The Victorian homelessness system is organised under what is called The Opening Doors Framework, also commonly referred to as ‘Opening Doors’.
In very simple terms Opening Doors aims to provide an integrated and coordinated response by having a limited number of designated access points into the homelessness system.
The purpose of these access points is to assess needs, prioritise and connect people to the services and resources they need.
Each Department of Human Services region has one of these access points. Most of the 19 transitional housing managers (THMs) discussed in the Housing services section are a designated access point.
There are also some specialist access points. For example; for women, youth or Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander peoples.
If someone is homeless or at risk of becoming homeless and needs help to find housing or support they go to one of these entry points.
People requiring homelessness assistance can call 1800 825 955 and they will be directed to the access point service that is closest to them.
Initial Assessment and Planning (IAP) Workers
At the entry point people seeking assistance will meet with an IAP worker who will do an assessment of their housing and support needs.
Following this assessment they will address any housing crisis. IAPs have access to the Housing Establishment Fund (HEF) money which can be used to pay for emergency accommodation and sometimes rent in arrears or advance.
If appropriate, the IAP may make a referral to one of the specialist homelessness support services.
Or they may make a referral to a support service in another system such as health or mental health.
The IAP worker can also provide advice on housing options, assistance to material aid, with applications for private and public housing and advocate on behalf of consumers (for example, with Centrelink, the Department of Human Services or real estate agencies).
IAP workers have access to what is called a resource register, where housing and support vacancies from specialist homelessness services are listed.
The IAP matches people with those vacancies. When doing so they prioritise people who have been assessed as most at risk.
Opening Doors in Department of Human Services regions – Local Area Service Networks (LASNs)
Victoria’s homelessness services are divided into Department of Human Services regions.
Opening Doors works slightly differently in each of those regions. In each region there is a Local Area Service Network (LASN). This is made up of senior representatives of housing and support agencies who are funded to deliver homelessness services in that region.
The LASNs are responsible for maximising the effectiveness of the homelessness system in their region, within the guidelines of the Opening Doors Framework.
This can be associated with local system variations. For example in some regions the access point decides who goes into the transitional properties and in some regions, the support service makes this decision.