Focusing on our two themes, Families and New Beginnings, and Health and Wellbeing, allows us to do a deep dive into the data to better understand our impact, make evidence-based decisions that shape our programs, and better advocate for our vision of zero homelessness.
Families and New Beginnings
Everyone deserves another chance and the best start in life. We provide children, families and young people security, safety, and the opportunity to start afresh and to build an optimistic future.
We know that poverty and family violence drive homelessness. And that when children grow up with housing instability, this cycle can continue into future generations.
We also know that housing first works. Permanent housing combined with support services is proven to create real change for families. When we rapidly re-house families, we limit additional trauma and give them the best chance to recover and rebuild. That is why we need more safe, secure, and long-term housing close to schools and services to be able to move women and families quickly into stability.
Launch Housing assisted over 1,600 families this year, or 11% of all clients supported, through a wide variety of programs ranging from rental assistance to help them stay in their own home, financial assistance to secure a new rental property, short-
The majority of these options come with dedicated case management and targeted support through programs like our housing support programs, Education Pathways Program, our youth foyers, and programs for pregnant women and new mums.
Together, our programs and initiatives form a scaffolding that supports families with access to housing and wrap-around supports, that enable them to reclaim control over their lives and to build an optimistic future.
Private Rental Assistance Program
Through our Private Rental Assistance Program (PRAP we provided over 1000 families with financial assistance to secure a new rental property or hold on
This is an essential prevention and early intervention program that stops people from entering the homelessness system. It’s an especially important program for older women and single mothers with children, as they face significant barriers in finding private rentals, especially if they are on a low income.
The positive impact of this program is evident in the fact that only 6% of people who received support from this program in the previous year, needed additional support this year. But it is clear there is a continuing need for the program, with a 29% increase in people needing support over the past year.
Our Cornelia Program helps pregnant women, and new mothers and their babies, with pathways to safe accommodation, social services, and compassionate health care to break the cycle of insecure housing.
We do this through purpose-built housing for pregnant women and new mothers where they can stay for 12 months while they access pre- and post-natal healthcare, services and build their bond with their babies.
The women in the Cornelia Program have access to specialist maternity, sexual, reproductive and specialist women’s health services, along with support to access other health and parenting support programs. The program also supports neonatal care for their babies.
Since its launch in 2022, the program has supported 50 women and 33 babies.
Fifteen of the women have moved into long-term secure housing. Two women are in private rentals, one woman was reunified with her family, six women moved into Housing First properties, and six more women moved into public housing. An additional five women have been allocated to a Housing First property pending completion of construction.
Twenty-three women had Child Protection involvement over the entire period. Child Protection closed on eight of those orders. There were five babies in out-of-home care. Two other babies were put under a protection order and have since been returned to the care of mum.
The program is a partnership between Launch Housing, the Royal Women’s Hospital, HousingFirst and the Victorian Government.
Women participating in the Cornelia Program were generously supported by Peel Fund, a sub-fund of Australian Communities Foundation
Education First Youth Foyers
Our Education First Youth Foyers supported 40 young people aged 16-24 to find a home and gain education and employment. This year, 85% of young people exiting the Foyers were either employed or studying, providing them with a solid pathway to an empowered and optimistic future.
Education Pathways Program
The Education Pathways Program (EPP) is one of the few programs across Australia providing targeted and multi-disciplinary support to ensure children stay connected to school and kinder despite experiencing homelessness.
We know that school and community are protective factors in addressing the educational disadvantage associated with homelessness. This year, the EPP supported 46 families to enrol in and stay connected with school and early childhood education.
Following a continuous improvement philosophy, our Specialist Children’s Team ran a trial literacy intervention program to further expand the program and increase its impact.
The Launch Learners program ran over two school terms for ten children. The program consisted of two speech pathologists who facilitated a group session once a week and provided one-on-one and small group interventions with the children using an evidence-based phonics program.
The children participating completed a pre- and post-test to assess their progress in literacy. At the start of the program, all the children displayed literacy skills at least one grade below the expected range. Of the seven children who completed both terms, all of their post-test results demonstrated some improvements in their phonological skills (building blocks of literacy) and/or their written narrative skills. In addition, all seven children decreased their reading anxiety.
One child achieved a remarkable result, going from not knowing any letter sounds to knowing 10 out of 26 basic letter-sound correspondences.
The success of the Launch Learners trial means it will now be incorporated into the broader EPP as a permanent part of the program in the future.
The Education Pathways Program is made possible only through the generosity of donors and philanthropic funders:
- Bowness Family Foundation;
- Danny Wallis Philanthropic Foundation, managed by Australian Philanthropic Services;
- Fred J Cato Charitable Fund;
- Goldsmith Family Foundation;
- Jack and Ethel Goldin Foundation;
- Ross Trust;
- The Arthur Gordon Oldham Charitable Trust, managed by Equity Trustees;
- The Brian M Davis Charitable Foundation;
- The Flora & Frank Leith Charitable Trust;
- The Gething-Sambrook Family Foundation, managed by Equity Trustees;
- The Marian and E.H. Flack Trust;
- The Peter and Ann Robinson Foundation;
- William Angliss Charitable Fund;
- and generous individuals and families who would prefer to remain anonymous.
This year, we opened Viv’s Place, an Australian first that offers permanent homes, ongoing support, strong community, and a safe place to live for women and children who have experienced family violence. Viv’s Place will be home to 60 women and up to 130 children.
Over 7,500 women across Australia have returned to a violent home because they didn’t have alternative housing. This is the reality facing thousands of women in a housing crisis in Australia and a devastating choice to have to make. That’s why Launch Housing developed this life-changing solution for families.
We know this place will be transformational and we have already observed positive changes in the women and children living there. This project will break the cycle of homelessness across generations and give children who have suffered significant trauma a better start in life.
In addition to 60 self-contained and furnished apartments, the building has 24-hour support staff and a range of wrap-around support services located in the building, including health, legal, financial, education and living skills specialists. Children will have access to counselling services, trauma-informed playgroups, art groups and after school clubs.
The building has been designed with safety, security, and a sense of community as the core principles. The communal spaces encourage interaction and belonging and have been designed and decorated through a trauma-informed lens. The safety of the women and children is central to the model and has already been recognised by residents as the most fundamental difference to anywhere they have lived before.
Children will find stability and the support to attend school. They will maintain healthy relationships with family, friends, and the community, and reach their full potential.
The women will have the space and security to help rebuild their lives and engage with the community in whatever way works best for them.
Viv’s Place was made possible by:
- Australian Nursing & Midwifery Federation, Victorian Branch;
- Ian Potter Foundation ;
- Robin and Mary Lou Friday & the Friday-Ferrell-Hudson-Maher Family;
- Gandel Foundation;
- Lord Mayor’s Charitable Foundation;
With generous support from:
- Grigg Family Fund, Kapscalu Rejenerative Fund, & Juno Fund, sub-funds of Australian Communities Foundation;
- The William Angliss Charitable Fund;
- The Pierce Armstrong Foundation;
- Gill Family Foundation;
- The Eric Burton Memorial Fund, a charitable fund account of Lord Mayor’s Charitable Foundation;
- Rotary Melbourne;
- and many other generous individuals and families who would prefer to remain anonymous.
Children’s Specialist Support Services
The Children’s Specialist Support Services (CSSS) provides therapeutic and recreational activities for children experiencing homelessness and/or family violence. This year, 145 children and 55 families were supported in the program.
The aim of the program is to build children’s confidence, self-esteem, general well-being, resilience, and to extend social skills and improve children’s capacity to participate in other areas, such as kindergarten or school.
Children and families attending programs are surrounded by peers who have a shared experience whilst in a safe, trauma-informed, and child-centred environment.
Group work opportunities include weekly term-based children’s groups, school holiday programs, parenting programs, an end of year children’s party, and an annual CSSS children’s camp.
Health and Wellbeing
Housing is healthcare. Poor health is both a cause and a consequence of homelessness. That is why we provide people with access to integrated health and housing supports.
This year, we supported over 485 people with their health and wellbeing needs, including medical emergency responses, assisted referrals to general practitioners and other health professionals (dental, optometry, and allied health), and support with ongoing chronic health management, including mental health.
Launch Housing provides access to integrated health and housing support at several sites, because we know this is a critical early intervention strategy. We know that the longer a person experiences homelessness, the more serious and complex are the effects on their health and wellbeing.
People experiencing homelessness face complex and multidimensional health needs, disengagement from primary care and other barriers to accessing appropriate health care. They’re also over-represented in nearly all morbidity and mortality statistics, and frequently are forced to use hospitals and emergency departments for health concerns that could be addressed in a primary health care setting.
The Nursing Response at Southbank project
This year, we provided 110 clients with integrated health and housing support through our nursing response program at Southbank, one of our crisis accommodation sites.
A recent evaluation found that the nursing program has had a positive impact on health outcomes for clients with multiple and complex health needs, who have often been experiencing homelessness for over 10 years.
Overwhelming evidence from the evaluation pointed to the effectiveness of having health care staff on-site. Engagement is easier, and information sessions and health promotion can be done in place to reduce the stigma and fear of accessing health support. Staff can also develop ongoing relationships for client engagement and respond to critical incidents.
Our clients told us…
“It’s made a difference to my wellbeing having the nurses here, just having the comfort knowing that if something’s wrong I could go down to see the nurse.”Launch Housing client that wished to remain anonymous
“It’s very important to have them [nurses]. I’m very grateful for having their service. You don’t really get that elsewhere. It’s made so much difference to me to have them here. They keep reminding me to take my medications. Appointments, they just keep me on track. Make sure my wellbeing is okay. Because I have mental health issues as well. … I’m very happy with the service. Without their service, I wouldn’t know what to do. I normally go to the hospital, but I haven’t been since I’ve been dealing with them. They’ve taken a big toll off the hospital. I’d usually go there for mental health issues, suicidal issues, wellbeing, arthritis issues too. I’ve had a lot of problems and having them (the nurses) here goes a long way. I’m very, very happy with the nurses.”
Having nurses on-site allows for rapport building and establishing a trusting relationship, which was a significant enabler of positive health outcomes for clients.
Broader research in this area indicates that access to primary health care and community health nurses often leads to clients discovering health concerns they were not previously aware of, and which may require treatment in a hospital setting. This often increases their immediate use of hospital-based care.
Over the medium and long-
Similar positive impacts have been seen at Elizabeth Street Common Ground, our long-term supportive housing. Due to the permanency of this housing, nurses can build client relationships and help develop increased health literacy and prevention capabilities, stabilise and monitor chronic conditions, provide more effective early intervention measures, and build trust in health care providers.
As a result, residents are better able to look after their own physical and mental health, and wellbeing. This helps people maintain their housing and enjoy their lives.
We also know that the impacts of these integrated nursing and homelessness services go beyond the individual. Our economic modelling has shown that integrated nursing and homelessness services such as these are likely to generate substantial cost savings for the overall health system by avoiding preventable ambulance callouts, reducing pressure on the emergency department and helping people to manage their chronic conditions like diabetes, heart conditions, and hepatitis.
Our integrated nursing and homelessness programs are entirely funded through philanthropy.
The Nursing Response at Southbank would not have been possible without the vision and generosity of the Shine On Foundation who have entirely funded the program since 2016.
The Elizabeth Street Common Ground nursing program has been made possible through the generosity of the Brian & Virginia McNamee Foundation who have funded the program since its inception.
Sumner House COVID-19 Isolation and Recovery Facility (CIRF)
This year, Launch Housing, in partnership with St Vincent’s Hospital Melbourne, the Brotherhood of St Laurence and the Victorian Government, developed an innovative program in inner Melbourne, providing a safe place for people to stay while they await their COVID-19 test results or recover from COVID-19 infection. During the pandemic, the program was entirely devoted to a COVID-19 Isolation and Recovery Facility (CIRF), as you can’t isolate if you don’t have a home.
We supported 313 people experiencing homelessness with chronic health issues to self-isolate and/or recover from the effects of COVID-19 throughout the year. Results from a feedback survey of CIRF residents revealed that 81% felt safe and 88% reported getting enough help with their health needs.
In August 2022, Sumner House began transitioning from a 25-bed COVID-19 Isolation and Recovery Facility (CIRF) to a hybrid CIRF/Better Health and Housing Program (BHHP) model.
The BHHP is a residential-based integrated health and homelessness service for people who have experienced chronic homelessness and poor health. It will provide general health and homelessness support for residents for up to 26 weeks and will also support residents to access and transition to longer-term housing when they leave.
As it is the first of its kind, a detailed outcomes evaluation will be undertaken to help build an understanding of what has worked and what will be needed to provide similar services in other locations in future.