2017 Victorian Homelessness Achievement Awards

The 2017 Victorian Homelessness Achievement Awards Winners Click To Tweet

The Council to Homeless Persons is proud to present the Victorian Homelessness Achievement Awards, celebrating the exceptional efforts of workers, consumers and organisations within the specialist homelessness service system.

The seven award categories in 2017 were:

  1. Excellence in ending homelessness – children and families
  2. Excellence in ending homelessness – young peoplekids
  3. Excellence in ending homelessness – adults
  4. Excellence in ending homelessness – diverse groups
  5. Leading practitioner award
  6. Consumer achievement award
  7. The Beth Thomson lifetime achievement award.

The 2017 Victorian Homelessness Achievement Awards have been our most competitive yet. The Awards celebrate those who have made a standout contributions to ending homelessness, and have been nominated by their peers as deserving recognition.  Below is the full list of nominees and winners for each category.


Excellence in ending homelessness – children and families

This award recognises individuals, programs, organisations or partnerships that have made an outstanding contribution to preventing or ending homelessness in Victoria for children and families.

WINNER: Sidney Myer Haven – Haven; Home, Safe

The Sidney Myer Haven in Bendigo provides extensive wraparound support for young mums. Across the spectrum, the program is achieving extremely high rates of engagement and successful outcomes for highly vulnerable young people and their kids.




City Gate Apartment Project – Port Phillip Housing Association and Launch Housing

The closure of the City Gate Apartment complex saw Launch Housing faced with losing a primary crisis accommodation site. They teamed up with Port Phillip Housing Association and the Victorian Government to buy the complex and provide intensive supports to young mums.

Hazel Hams Homes – Anchor Inc.

Hazel Hams Homes is a life-changing place for at-risk pregnant and parenting young women and their children. Hazel Hams Homes has been recognised by the Centre for Excellence in Child and Family Welfare as a new and innovative service delivery framework.



Excellence in ending homelessness – young people

This award recognises individuals, programs, organisations or partnerships that have made an outstanding contribution to preventing or ending homelessness in Victoria for young people

WINNER: Next Steps – Jesuit Social Services

Next Steps provides intensive case management to young people aged 16-24 years who have been involved with the justice system and are experiencing, or at risk of homelessness. Next Steps works with this highly vulnerable cohort to reduce homelessness and reduce re-offending.




ENGAGE philanthropy program – Give Where You Live Foundation & Barwon Child, Youth and Family

The ENGAGE program educates and empowers young people aged 15-25 years in the Geelong region to effect positive change, by identifying youth issues that are important to them. In 2016 the group directed their funding to combat the effects of youth homelessness.

 Kids Under Cover

Since 1989 Kids Under Cover has provided young people at risk of homelessness the foundations to strengthen their connection to family, community, and education. Their studio program provides secure and stable accommodation for young people at risk of homelessness.

Lighthouse Foundation

Lighthouse Foundation has helped over 800 homeless young people aged 15-22 years to permanently end the cycle of homelessness. Young people who have been homeless come into one of the Lighthouse homes, and from that secure, supported base, re-engage with education, develop confidence and life skills and reconnect with the community.

Mentoring Program – Ladder

The official charity of the AFL and the AFL Players Association, Ladder helps young people aged 16-25 years break the cycle of homelessness, through coaching services, specialist development programs, education and employment support, health and wellbeing programs, and a mentoring program.

St John of God Horizon House – St John of God Social Outreach

Horizon House is a three-tier residential program for vulnerable young people aged 16-22 years who are currently experiencing, or at risk of, homelessness.   The program focuses on early intervention and prevention through long-term, individualised support.

Youth Refuge Model – Melbourne City Mission

In collaboration with Melbourne City Mission’s access point, the four youth refuges provide specialised and responsive accommodation and support, as well as a gateway to the service system, to the most vulnerable young people in Victoria. They do not exclude young people, because of any challenging behaviours or the complexity of their needs



Excellence in ending homelessness – adults

This award recognises individuals, programs, organisations or partnerships that have made an outstanding contribution to preventing or ending homelessness in Victoria for adults.

WINNER: Justice Connect Homeless Law

Justice Connect Homeless Law is the leader in the legal assistance sector in developing innovative models and new partnerships to meet the legal and non-legal needs of people experiencing homelessness. They are renowned for providing leadership in advocacy around the laws and regulations impacting those experiencing homelessness.




Catherine Dyer – Tenants Victoria (formerly Tenants Union of Victoria)

Catherine Dyer is the Rooming House Outreach Worker, working alongside the Legal Service within the Tenants Victoria. In her role Catherine reaches the most vulnerable and disadvantaged people in private rental – low income residents in private rooming houses or living in caravan parks.

Celia Adams – BeyondHousing

Celia Adams is the CEO of BeyondHousing, a regional community housing provider and homelessness agency. Celia is a true advocate and role models the importance of valuing people, their unique stories, and community. Under her leadership BeyondHouse have an incredible 98% consumer satisfaction rating.

McAuley Community Services for Women

McAuley Community Services for Women provide Victoria’s first purpose-built accommodation and support hub for women who are homeless. McAuley credits their exceptional outcomes to the high value they place on residents, combined with the suite of life skills programs and a focus on co-design.

Quin House – VincentCare

Quin House is a supported accommodation program providing a 12 week integrated counselling, peer support and residential program for men experiencing homelessness and substance dependency. Their community re-integration model includes reconnection with family, the community and other supports.

Rosebud Rooming House Project – SalvoCare Eastern

The Rosebud Rooming House Project provides outreach into rooming houses, supporting residents to access community services, address their health issues, gain employment and volunteer. It has achieved outstanding housing and wellbeing outcomes, and clients say the program makes them feel they are part of a community that cares.



Excellence in ending homelessness – diverse groups

This award recognises individuals, programs, organisations or partnerships that have made an outstanding contribution to preventing or ending homelessness in Victoria for diverse communities.

A range of communities are over-represented in homelessness, and this award seeks to recognise those achieving excellence in ending homelessness for these client groups. This might include excellence in addressing homelessness for people who identify as LGBTQI, people who are culturally or linguistically diverse, Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander people, or older people.

JOINT WINNER: Alsorts – Family Access Network

Alsorts is a statewide response to same sex attracted, transgender and intersex young people experiencing homelessness. As well as providing housing, support and referrals for same sex attracted, transgender and intersex young people, Family Access Network provide leadership to the sector in supporting this client group, and support a research agenda to develop a greater understanding of homeless same sex attracted, transgender and intersex young people.

JOINT WINNER: Housing for the Aged Action Group (HAAG)

In 2015 HAAG commenced a partnership with the Ethnic Communities Council of Victoria targeting community education to older people from CALD communities. As a result of this, the number of people housed by HAAG from CALD communities increased 200% and now make up 50% of HAAG clients. Critical to this success was working alongside the communities they seek to engage.





Karen Anderson – Wathaurong Aboriginal Co-operative

Karen is recognised for her dedication to ending homelessness in the Wathaurong and Gulidjan communities. Karen’s commitment to grassroots engagement, her tireless spirit, humility, devotion to honouring her word, client centered practice, dedication to policy and practice development, thorough knowledge of the sector, leadership within her team, work ethic, and willingness to roll up her sleeves have resulted in her nomination for this award.



Leading practitioner award

This award recognises leading practitioners in the homelessness sector who go the extra mile and keep consumers at the centre of their practice. The following outstanding nominees are passionate advocates for consumers and work with consumers to create individualised responses, rather than requiring individuals to fit available response offerings.


WINNER: Adam Liversage – Uniting Ballarat

Adam is the assertive outreach worker at Uniting Ballarat. Adam has shown what can be achieved when the sector works together with a common goal to provide housing and support to some of our most vulnerable community members.  Adam has worked with the local council to dissuade them from move-on laws, and with local businesses to de-escalate their concerns about local rough sleepers.


Catherine Dyer – Tenants Victoria

Catherine is the rooming house outreach worker at Tenants Victoria. Rooming house residents are unlikely to access mainstream advice services. Catherine supports them with legal and tenancy issues, as well as links to services. Catherine’s work has led to higher standards in many rooming houses across the region.

Cathy Moore – St Vincent’s Hospital Melbourne

Cathy is the cottage liaison nurse at St Vincent’s Hospital Melbourne. Cathy provides care for residents with significant health needs, who also experience homelessness, or who are facing other challenges prior to admission or on leaving hospital. Cathy works hard to make the program accessible to patients to prevent homelessness and achieve the best discharge outcomes

Jean Phillips – Peninsula Health

Jean established the Mobile Integrated Health program at Peninsula Health in 2001. The program provides health and support outreach to those in marginal housing or homelessness. Under Jean’s leadership, the program now consists of 12 staff working across nine different streams. She has made strong contributions to practice leadership, academia, and policy development.

Michelle Skog – Sacred Heart Mission

Michelle is the Women’s Housing & Complex Needs Intensive Case Manager at Sacred Heart Mission. Michelle started with Sacred Heart Mission in 2012 in administration where she overhauled facility maintenance, improved rent and refund systems, increased occupancy rates, amongst other things. As a case manager, Michelle is renowned for supporting those who have the most complex needs and are the most difficult to engage.

Suzanne Marriner – Launch Housing

Suzanne has the immense honour of being nominated for the Leading Practitioner award by one of her clients. Over four years Suzanne has been a much-needed source of stability and is appreciated for her wide-ranging support, from housing, to court dates, to lonely Christmases, Suzanne is renowned for genuinely caring for her clients and is a greatly appreciated.  



Consumer achievement award

This award recognises individuals who have experienced homelessness and made an outstanding contribution to improving the lives of others experiencing homelessness in Victoria. The consumer achievement award is sponsored by the Rotary Club of Melbourne.

WINNER: Erika Lodge

Nominated by: VincentCare Victoria

Erika Lodge is being nominated for her extensive commitment to supporting people experiencing homelessness over the last ten years. She spreads awareness of homelessness and its causes through public speaking events, school groups and tours, and media opportunities including the nationally televised ABC “You Can’t Ask That” series. She also exemplifies peer support volunteering at a breakfast program, and as a welcome volunteer at an access point. She sits on a number of consumer representation committees.




Abukar Ali

Nominated by: Centre for Multicultural Youth

Abukar is a remarkable young man. He works as a youth facilitator, supports a younger brother (both are orphaned), studies to become a police officer, and volunteers with the Centre for Multicultural Youth’s Shout Out program to share his story of homelessness. He is a peer educator for other young people, a spokesperson to media, and a constant advocate within CMY.


Annie Bracey

Nominated by: Launch Housing

Annie is the Chair of the Launch Housing Lived Experience Advisory Group. She sets the group agenda, and runs the meetings. She is an advocate to Government including City of Melbourne, Moreland City Council and Transport Victoria, as well as businesses including Wilson Security, and within Launch Housing both through the LEAG and the board’s services sub-committee.

Emma Bohmer

Nominated by: Launch Housing

Emma is a passionate proponent of consumer engagement. Emma has participated in staff interview panels and contributed to the development of tender documents to Government to include peer support workers. She also provides peer support in the health sector. She has provided training to security staff, and advocated for a wider rollout of consumer involvement within Launch Housing.

 Graham Townsend

Nominated by: Sacred Heart Mission

Graham acts as a spokesperson for the residents of his home, and a conduit between them and Sacred Heart Mission. He serves an important community development function in the home, and is active as both a media spokesperson for Sacred Heart Mission, and supporting their work lobbying Government. These roles are not formal, but signify the huge esteem in which he is held.

Helen Matthews

Nominated by: Launch Housing

Helen volunteers heavily as a consumer advocate. She helps education the community through the media and public speaking. She contributes to Launch Housing’s submissions to government, including in responses to rough sleeping, and rooming house reform. She has provided consumer perspectives to the Self Help Addiction Resource Centre, and participated in the ‘Policy Shop’ podcast.

Jacqui Gibson

Nominated by: Launch Housing

Jacqui is a prolific consumer advocate. She works with almost a dozen homelessness, health and community services committees. Jacqui leverages these opportunities into significant policy and practice changes, and helps to set their strategic directions. She also supervises volunteers, advocates on their behalf, and volunteers her own time. Her work is notable for its breadth and complexity, and the outcomes that she achieves.

Marcus Findlay

Nominated by: Launch Housing

Marcus has a longstanding commitment to volunteering with Launch Housing, and prior to that, with HomeGround. He is currently the first ever Meet and Greet Officer at the Collingwood IAP. Marcus was instrumental in the development of the Launch Housing Service Philosophy which emphasises the expert role that consumers have in their own lives and respect for their rights, aspirations and potential. He recently provided information on the state of rooming houses for the rough sleeping situation appraisal.

Sam Bushby

Nominated by: Barwon Child, Youth and Family

Sam is a young man who left home at 14, experienced many forms of youth homelessness, and is now a lead tenant. Sam has been extraordinary successful in achieving his goals, while also speaking out to educate the community. Sam writes songs with the aim of reducing the stigma of homelessness in the community, and performs them for large audiences. Sam is known for his bravery, and for his pride in his work.

Sim Crawford

Nominated by: Launch Housing

Sim is a member of Launch Housing Lived Experience Advisory Group. He plays an important role reviewing Launch’s information and brochures for consumers, providing constructive feedback and advice on communicating to this audience. He has trained public transport Authorised Officers, and provided input to the City of Melbourne proposed ‘rough sleeping ban’ bylaw proposal to highlight how it would negatively affect rough sleepers.

Steve Bryant

Nominated by: Launch Housing

Steve contributes to the community’s understanding of homelessness by running education and awareness sessions. A highlight was when he spoke with Occupational Therapy students at LaTrobe University, describing his significant experience of homelessness and how OT’s helped him through periods he was housed. He further provides significant feedback to Launch’s internal systems.

Suzanne Fagan

Nominated by: Launch Housing

Suzanne has only recently begun using her experience to improve service offerings, but her first forays have seen her in front of some very important audiences. She has spoken at a statewide library network meeting about the importance of library spaces to those experiencing homelessness, and has fed into the consultation for the City of Melbourne’s proposed “rough sleeping ban” bylaw, and about her experience of rooming houses to the rough sleeping situation appraisal.



Beth Thomson lifetime achievement award

This award category recognises sector leaders with passion for creating exceptional responses to homelessness which is matched by dedication to those served. Over the course of their careers, these leaders have shown commitment and leadership in providing effective and empowering responses to homelessness in Victoria.

This Award is named in honour of Beth Thomson, who worked in the community sector for more than 30 years. Beth’s work provided vital services for a range of highly vulnerable groups including young women with borderline personality disorders, people with HIV AIDS and young people experiencing homelessness. Beth served as the CEO of Wombat Housing & Support Services from 1995 to 2008.

WINNER: Celia Adams – BeyondHousing

Celia has been involved in the housing and homelessness sector for 17 years, and is currently CEO at BeyondHousing. Her tenure as CEO is marked by instituting significant reforms focused on the rights of the client. She is a widely respected advocate for the needs of those experiencing homelessness, and is described as never losing sight of her aim of improving the provision of social housing for those who need it.




Alistar Baker – Grampians Community Health

Alistar has worked in homelessness in Victoria’s Grampians region for 19 years. Alistair is known for his dedication to the most vulnerable clients, his willingness to break the mould, and his passionate tutelage of staff. He has been integral to the development of services and processes throughout the Grampians region.

Jean Phillips – Peninsula Health

Jean established the Mobile Integrated Health program at Peninsula Health in 2001. The program provides health and support outreach outreach to those in marginal housing or homelessness. Under Jean’s leadership the program now consists of 12 staff working across nine different streams. She has made strong contributions to practice leadership, academia, and policy development.

Jo Swift – Kids Under Cover

Jo Swift joined Kids Under Cover 15 years ago, and in 2017 celebrates 10 years as CEO.  Under her leadership, Kids Under Cover has seen significant growth and is now a recognised leader in preventing homelessness for young people. Under Jo’s leadership, Kids Under Cover delivers innovative service responses, creative funding solutions, and ensuring that young people are given every opportunity to remain connected to family, community, and education.