Services Connect – where does your homelessness service fit?


Since 2012 the Department of Human Services in Victoria has been trialling a new approach to providing assistance called Services Connect . This model seeks to integrate an individual’s human service needs, and that of their family, into one assessment, one plan and a flexible service response.

DHS are now expanding the trial of this model into the community sector. On Thursday 2 July DHS released a call for submissions for community sector agencies to deliver ‘Services Connect Partnerships’ in eight DHS regions.

The Partnerships

The call for submissions requires these Partnerships to be made up of a range of existing human services, both DHS funded and non DHS funded, in order to deliver the Services Connect model of one single needs assessment, one plan and flexible service delivery.

Trialling the services connect model in the community sector will involve: establishing governance mechanisms within the partnership, developing a system of integrated access in collaboration with DHS, trialling the service model and use of an ‘outcomes tool’ for service delivery, collecting data on outcomes for consumers and participating in governance and evaluation of the trials.

The partnerships have to demonstrate the ability to meet the needs of Aboriginal Victorians, and ideally have Aboriginal services as partners in the model. They must also demonstrate an awareness of gender in service delivery.

CHP is pleased to see mechanisms for consumer participation featured prominently in the partnership requirements. For information on models of consumer participation including CHP’s Peer Education and Support Program (PESP) contact CHP’s Manager of Consumer Programs Ian Gough.

The partnership must also identify how it will engage with other service planning and delivery agencies in the DHS area. To assist services, CHP has prepared a sector mapping document which identifies the majority of Human Services and Health coordinating bodies and their aligned DHS area, including the contact details of the chair or lead agency of the partnership in each area.

The partnerships will need to be prepared to trial the model and be involved in governance and evaluation throughout the trial. The funding available for the partnerships is to plan and facilitate the governance arrangements and new ways of working, although it can also contribute to the service model.

The Model

The Services Connect Model has identified three levels of support managed, guided and self support. Managed support is envisioned for individuals with high support needs involving multiple services and an anticipated need for assistance over approximately six months. Guided support is for households with moderate support needs. This intervention is envisioned to provide approximately four months of support. Self-support will be provided to individuals who may only need a single session meeting or information and referral.  

The partnership will need to commit 7 EFT staff to act as ‘Key workers’ within the partnership (this can be from one or more partners, but not necessarily all partners). Services will not have to report existing service targets for the work these re-allocated staff are currently undertaking.

Overall DHS expects each partnership to assist 465 consumers per annum with the service targets as follows:

Managed Support 20 clients per EFT @3 EFT = 60 people pa

Guided Support 45 clients per EFT @ 3 EFT = 135 people pa

Self Support – 240 clients per EFT @ 1 EFT = 240 people per annum.

In addition to these targets the partnership are required to include a specialist focus on young people leaving care and families with young people at risk of entering care. The partnerships are expected to assist 15 of each group per annum.

CHP will argue that the focus on young people leaving care should provide an opportunity for services to trial assistance such as CHP’s leaving care housing guarantee to prevent homelessness amongst young people leaving care.

Homelessness services in Victoria are familiar with working in partnership to deliver integrated access through the Opening Doors Framework. Homelessness services long standing expertise in complex case co-ordination , means that support services have demonstrated experience supporting consumers to address multiple needs and access specialist services. Homelessness services re uniquely well placed to participate in the trial of Services Connect Partnerships.

Submissions close 2pm on Thursday 14 August 2014