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2023 Victorian Homelessness Achievement Award Winners Announced


The winners of the 2023 Victorian Homelessness Achievement Awards were announced live at Melbourne Town Hall on Monday, in front of the crowd at this year’s Victorian Homelessness Conference. (Read our recap of the Conference here.)

The mood in the Main Hall was jubilant, with winners’ names greeted by joyous cheers from the crowd – a fantastic acknowledgement of the sector’s collaborative spirit, as well as the winners’ achievements.

Our deep thanks to Wellways for sponsoring the Consumer Achievement Award, and to VincentCare for sponsoring the Awards for Excellence in Ending Homelessness.

If you couldn’t be at the Conference, here’s your list of the 2023 Victorian Homelessness Achievement Awards winners… [drumroll please!]:

Award for excellence in ending homelessness among children and families: Melbourne City Mission’s Youth Refuges and Intensive Child and Family Services Program 

MCM’s Youth Refuges and the Intensive Children’s and Family services program have been working collaboratively over a number of years to increase awareness of and improve interventions for accompanied children in Refuge. Supports are available to young parents in Refuge however children are often the silent consumer leaving a massive unfunded gap in the homelessness/Youth Refuge system. They’ve been working tirelessly to share learnings, develop a therapeutic practice framework and resources to bring infants and children into focus to ensure their needs are met too. 

Award for excellence in ending homelessness among young people: NESAY, The North East Support and Action for Youth, for their Transitional Service Team

The Transitional Services team works with young people at risk of, or experiencing homelessness as part of the Victorian Homelessness system. Known as the Tappies, the team works in partnership with many organisations, and receives referrals from Beyond housing, as part of the Opening Doors framework. They provided over 200 support episodes during the last financial year, offering outreach services to Wangaratta, Benalla, and Myrtleford. The Tappies go to where the young people need them to be. The Tappies gained a high number of transitional housing, long term housing, and private rental options for the young people they worked with throughout the year. Given the state of the housing market, that’s a remarkable achievement, and has led to many young people feeling safe and secure in their community of choice. 

Award for excellence in ending homelessness among adults: Anchor Community Care’s Rapid Response Program.  

Rough sleeping in the Yarra Ranges is often a hidden and unseen issue, with many rough sleepers taking refuge in the bush and remote areas of this semi-rural landscape. Identifying and supporting this cohort is made more difficult by extreme weather events such as fire, floods and storms which are typical for the region. The Rapid Response Program was born out of a need to provide a coordinated response to rough sleeping. Previously, council or the police would attend to reports of rough sleepers, and they could do little to help. Rapid Response Program outreach teams engage with rough sleepers without overwhelming them, providing non-perishable food and personal care items if needed. Subsequent visits are conducted to maintain contact, monitor the person’s safety, address their physical needs, reinforce messages about available services, make referrals and continue to develop trust and rapport. To date, the program has responded to over 100 reports of rough sleepers in the region. 

Award for ending homelessness among Diverse and over-Represented Groups: Women’s Housing Limited’s Women’s Justice Diversion Program. 

The Women’s Justice Diversion Program was designed to extend the housing support and brokerage offered under the prison-based IAP service to divert unhoused women and gender diverse people from extended periods on remand and reduce the likelihood of re-presentation to custody. It is a response to feedback from consumers of the Prison-IAP program who reported being refused bail and release orders due to homelessness. The program utilises a flexible fund to sustain existing rentals, purchase crisis accommodation, and establish safe tenancies in the private and social housing markets to divert participants from custody, and keep them safely accommodated while transitioning back into the community. 

Award for excellence in ending homelessness among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people: VACSAL, The Victorian Aboriginal Community Services Association Limited 

VACSAL is a registered state-wide Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisation and operates with an approach underpinned by principles of self-determination and cultural integrity. VACSAL has a unique understanding of the needs of Aboriginal people experiencing homelessness and housing stress, having developed considerable expertise in this sector over the last 30 years. It operates a number of critical services grounded in cultural safety including: a Homeless Outreach Support Program, an APRAP Program which offers financial support aimed at maintaining tenancies and preventing homelessness, and a H2H program that was developed as a response to COVID for its most vulnerable clients and continues to this day. 

The Leading Practioner Award: Anne Kennedy. 

Anne Kennedy is a proud Trawlwoolway woman who has been an assertive outreach practitioner with Neami National for over 21 years. She has spent more than 10 years providing homelessness, mental health and psychosocial support to First Nations consumers at Wadamba Wilam. She provides holistic psychosocial support to First Nations consumers, utilising a trauma informed, client centred and social emotional and wellbeing approach. As an assertive outreach practitioner, Anne provides support to consumers in a number of areas including mental and physical health, alcohol and other drugs, housing support, cultural connection, family violence and she also provides strong advocacy for those engaged with child protection and the justice system. Anne has described her time with Wadamba Wilam as a parallel process of learning, discovery and connection and credits the experience to her own journey of cultural exploration. 

The Consumer Achievement Award: Mario Scialdone

Mario has been a client of VincentCare for the past 7 years and in 2019, he joined the Client Volunteer Program, a case managed, recovery program for VincentCare clients with a lived experience of homelessness. Mario gained qualifications as a Barista while in the CVP program. He graduated in May 2023 and joined the Community Volunteer Program at Ozanam House. As a CVP Graduate he continues to volunteer, mentoring new members of the program and supporting VincentCare clients. Mario also became a member of the VincentCare Client Advisory Committee in 2019. This committee is a representative body that advises on policy, procedure, and client participation. Mario is a peer support mentor at Quin House, VincentCare’s residential A.O.D rehabilitation service where he listens, supports, informs and shares his wisdom and knowledge with others. His colleagues describe him as a quiet achiever who is kind and generous, especially to rough sleepers who come to Ozanam House for a cuppa, a meal or a chat. 

The 2023 Beth Thomson Lifetime Achievement Award: Joal Presincula

Joal has just experienced her 10th year of formally contributing to consumer participation as a member of CHP’s PESP team and the wider SHS and has worked hard at utilising her lived experience expertise to make a difference. Over the years she has leant her considerable knowledge to consultative processes in homelessness policy and programs across various homelessness services and local government. She’s contributed to working groups and provided input into the ongoing discussion of best practice when working with people experiencing homelessness and who have experienced significant trauma. Joal has facilitated focus groups, contributed to training sessions, and as one of sector’s first Peer Support Workers supported people without homes in crisis accommodation. Joal’s insight is invaluable, whether she’s sharing it with media, private organisations, government, policy makers, or using it to support people without homes. 

Congratulations to all the winners, and thanks to everyone who submitted nominations.

Read our recap of the Victorian Homelessness Conference 2023.

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