Stephen Yam, or as he is affectionately called by his colleagues, ‘Yammy’, joined the former Department of Communities Tasmania as a project manager in 2019, moving to Homes Tasmania on its creation in 2022. He is based in the state's North and is responsible for the delivery of most of the capital development projects across the North and North-West.
His main responsibility is to oversee the management of projects that are under construction, through site visits and meeting with service providers, architects, consultants and builders.
“My job lets me contribute to the community by ensuring that our vulnerable and disadvantaged people have access to suitable and safe housing,” he says.
Delivering projects to support vulnerable people in our communities can be challenging and confronting, Stephen says, recalling the strong personal impact he felt during the refurbishment of a building in Launceston to house youth at risk.
“I was fairly emotional when I learnt that the finished accommodation was to be for homeless children between the ages of 12 and 15 – I couldn’t understand how such young children could be homeless,” he says.
“It inspired me to work hard to ensure that the project was delivered to create a safe and caring space for these children.”
Stephen says his most memorable projects to date are the extensions to the Thyne House Youth2Independence site and the Launceston Women’s shelter.
“Thyne House was my first building project for Homes Tasmania. We were adding an additional 20 units to the existing 30 youth supported accommodation units. There were challenges with the site due to underground components and working with the adjoining existing businesses, however, the collaboration between Council, consultants, service providers and neighbours in understanding the end goal and positive program that was being developed was instrumental in progressing the project.”
Stephen has previously worked in community-based organisations and finds great joy and satisfaction in improving the living conditions of those in the community and the many positive meetings and discussions he has with community members.
“The larger community understands the need for community housing and is positive about the role of Homes Tasmania,” he says.
“The fact that there is this overall positive interaction and response is comforting, not only for myself, but for our tenants we work with. It’s not just the act of being helped into housing, but the feeling that the wider community is understanding, caring, supportive and accepting.”
Stephen speaks highly of his relationship with the staff at the Launceston Women’s Shelter and the work he undertook with them to add an additional 15 units on the site.
“It’s important in my role to not only ensure the service providers are kept informed of the progress of projects, but also involve them in the project design. This ranges from simple things like the placement of power points to major elements such as the design and location of security.”
Having regular open communication with service providers ensures there is the desired consultation, input and understanding of a project.
“I think that Homes Tasmania, and the role I have, works hard to ensure there is a balance with the many types of supported and non-supported accommodation. This is demonstrated by the range of projects already delivered, in progress and planned for the future,” he says.
“It’s about understanding the different needs and requirements for people, and engaging, listening and acting on what they are asking for and not just assuming. Everyone deserves a roof over their head, and not all roofs look the same.”
Anyone who is homeless or who is at risk of homelessness is encouraged to contact Housing Connect, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, on 1800 800 588.
Homelessness Week is from 7-13 August. For more information visit Homelessness Week – Homelessness Australia
A full list of events during the week across the state can be found at Homelessness Week 2023 | Shelter Tasmania
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