Douglas House Stage 2
When 38 year old Jason and his 36 year old partner arrived at Douglas House, their life had spiralled out of control.
Problematic drug and alcohol use coupled with escalating domestic violence incidents meant that for Jason, prison was a revolving door. The couple lived in insecure accommodation and frequently struggled with homelessness. After their two young children were taken in to care, Jason and Natalie hit rock bottom.
In 2015 Mission Australia Housing took on the management of Douglas House, a 22 bed supported housing facility in central Cairns working with individuals and couples who have experienced chronic homelessness just like Jason and Natalie. Here they were given stable accommodation for 6 months and an opportunity to address their drug and alcohol problems.
With intensive counselling the couple developed the practical and emotional skills necessary to foster strong and healthy relationships. They also started to build resilience, life skills and support networks through activities such as cooking, fishing, art and craft.
Jason and Natalie have made so much progress together that they are now able to have unsupervised visits with their children and their caseworker is helping them to make long-term plans, which includes job opportunities and securing safe and secure accommodation.
That is where the development and construction of the second stage facility in Woree (Cairns) comes in to it. This 18 unit complex of fully self-contained units will provide medium term supported housing to people in similar situations to Jason and Natalie.
Mission Australia Housing Manager, Richard Munnich is extremely excited to be a part of the Woree development. After 15 years in the Queensland Housing sector focussing primarily on housing for remote Indigenous communities, Richard has been working with Mission Australia Housing for the past 12 months and is really encouraged to see the sector “responding to housing needs differently. Rather than talking about the problems, we are now enacting the solutions.”
A part of the solution to working with people with high needs requiring intensive support is to provide them with sustainable and supported housing transition plans. Richard sees Woree as “a stepping stone from Douglas House into more medium term housing. This means that we can work with tenants over an extended period of time, helping them to transition to independent living.”
Construction of the facility in Woree is due to be completed in May this year and with doors opening to tenants shortly after. In partnership with Mission Australia, Mission Australia Housing will provide tenancy and property services, and support services will be provided by Mission Australia staff.
It is not surprising that, through this holistic tenancy and social support services model, for every dollar invested in services such as Douglas House and the Woree units means Government saves at least $5.10 in public services that are no longer required (Going Places, Rapid Cost Benefit Analysis, Cairns, Mission Australia, June 2013).
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