Allison Rowe - 20 August 2019
Allison Rowe presented to Council regarding Hope House at the Public Access Session on 20 August 2019.
“a safe shelter to rehabilitate, renew and reintegrate men as valuable contributors to the community”
Hope House was established by Community Life Bateman’s Bay in 2009 as a transition facility to rehabilitate and reintegrate homeless men over the age of eighteen into the community.
Clients are referred from government welfare agencies, hospitals, private organisations or they often seek assistance themselves. Hope House is leased from the Anglican parish and accommodates up to eight residents for a maximum period of six months during which time they adhere to strict rules of tenancy and a code of conduct.
Residents pay a weekly rental of $175 for twin-share rooms and communal bathroom. The clients prepare their own meals cook and share common areas for dining and television/reading.
Upon entry to Hope House, case managers and counsellors assess the circumstances and wellbeing of each client before designing individual management strategies which address the deficiencies and harness the attributes of each individual.
Clients participate in mandatory programmes which address the three major problems causing men to become homeless:
- Mental Health (99% of clients accommodated at Hope House over the past three years suffered from professionally diagnosed mental health problems)
- Addiction to Drugs and/or Alcohol (88% faced an addiction to drugs and/or alcohol) and
- Domestic Violence (67% of clients were the perpetrators or victims of family violence) Primarily as a result of one or more of these problems, 89% of clients admitted to Hope House have a criminal history, giving rise to more homeless within the community. Additional programmes focus on personal hygiene and health of lifestyle, development of domestic and work skills, self-esteem and the acceptance of responsibility and accountability for their decisions as they transition to independent accommodation and gainful employment. The peer assess - peer assist fellowship within Hope House clients is conducive to honesty and a fearless openness. The support and encouragement given to one another ensures that no client is alone when confronted by depression or a personal problem. The close relationship between House management, professional and volunteer staff and clients allows for attention to every detail of a client’s programme; their behaviour, their physical and mental health and their immediate goals. Regular consultation and collaboration allow for immediate amendment and updating of each programme as required to ensure rehabilitation and reintegration remains on track. The stigma of the homeless person within our communities is the “elephant in the room”; it casts a shadow over urban Australia …. the most affluent society in the world. A void of financial capacity, an inability to maintain health and well-being and an introverted personality are all hallmarks of the long-term homeless. The Hope House community of professional and volunteer staff, clients and external agencies work closely to halt the “churn” of men through the justice system, correctional institutes and ineffective rehabilitation. The order of our priorities is clearly defined:
- Free clients from addiction to drugs and/or alcohol
- Address mental health problems
- Facilitate education to enhance employment opportunities
- Assist in securing independent accommodation
- Ensure client responsibility and accountability for decisions Alcohol continues to be the community’s biggest problem. Frequent users are likely to be perpetrators of violence, unemployed and homeless, psychologically distressed and in contact with the justice system and engaged in various risk-taking activities. Use and abuse of illicit drugs is clearly not preventable as statistics prove but the success of our individual and group therapies to combat substance abuse clearly show it is treatable and most importantly, sustained freedom from drug addiction is possible. Personal programs designed to address mental health issues faced by Hope House clients are currently supported by a permanent mental health counsellor and three consulting psychologists referring to experienced psychiatrists, all of whom are responsive to the care of a client, In partnership with Pathways Eurobodalla (Directions ACT), Hope House provides private client consultation with a permanent drug and alcohol counsellor twice weekly to address and overcome addiction to alcohol and release from the resultant anti-social behaviour. In our experience, alcohol addiction is the most difficult to combat however its public exposure and widespread use remains unabated. Hope House has treated 130 clients with drug and/or alcohol or gambling addictions in the last 30 months, utilising programs focused on recovery from addictions which include “S.M.A.R.T” (Self-Management And Recovery Training), “Relapse Prevention”, Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous and Gamblers Anonymous. To expand employment opportunities for our clients, Hope House now partners South Coast Colleges – Adult Ed Batemans Bay to allow clients to obtain certificates and licences for work, including First Aid, Traffic Control, White Card, Responsible Serving of Alcohol & Responsible Control of Gambling, Food Preparation and as Baristas.
Additional programmes focus on personal hygiene and health of lifestyle, development of domestic skills and self-esteem, application to work skills and acceptance of responsibility and accountability for their decisions as they transition to independent accommodation and gainful employment.
Our weekly “Domestic Violence”, “Anger Management” and “Men’s Behavioural Change” programmes are used effectively to counter the abhorrent increase in family conflict and violence.
A void of opportunity within the South Coast communities is likely to increase anti-social behaviour by those without employment and place increased pressure on government agencies and shelters such as Hope House.
With the support and assistance of Eurobodalla Shire and the community we can but try to rebuild the life of every man who walks through the door of Hope House searching for help to overcome inability or disability.