In the lead-up to Homelessness Week, we are highlighting some of the wraparound supports that Homes Tasmania and our partners provide to people who are homeless or who are at risk of becoming homeless and how we work to prevent this.
Hearing someone’s story, assessing their needs and providing support for people is something that Jenny has a clear passion for.
Jenny is one of Homes Tasmania’s Tenancy Intervention Officers, a role she has been in since 2016.
She joined Homes Tasmania (then called Housing Tasmania) in 1996. Jenny then worked with Anglicare in their housing and homeless services from 2012, before returning to Housing Tasmania in 2016.
Jenny’s role is to help prevent tenants losing their homes after they breach their tenancy, and she says there are many reasons that need to be considered to understand why someone is struggling to maintain their tenancy.
“Factors such as family breakdowns, family violence, addiction, community issues, whether a person has been in hospital or suffers from a physical or mental health disability, and mobility and ageing need to be considered when assessing a situation and providing the appropriate wraparound support,” Jenny said.
“Whether someone has been homeless before they were housed is also important to consider.
“A lot of my work is in the field and face-to-face. I always ask people, ‘Do you want to keep living here in your home?’ Everyone wants a roof over their head, but there are cases where the housing that someone is in isn’t appropriate for their situation.
“People might find themselves based away from services and family support, or they might have had a larger house in which their family was raised and the upkeep has become unmanageable for the person or couple living there.
“It's about looking at all the factors, assessing alternative accommodation solutions and providing sustainable support that can be managed long term.”
Jenny says it’s also important to consider the trauma and issues a person might be facing or has faced in the past, as that can greatly affect their capacity to engage with support programs.
“It’s always a choice to work with me and the support programs that we refer to. I am grateful to be able to do the job that I do, and that people accept the support we provide and don’t try to push us away,” she says.
She loves to hear tenant’s stories and adopts a non-judgmental approach, accepting people for who they are and for the lives they have lived.
Jenny is currently working with a woman with a double degree who came from a life of privilege and who, after a relationship breakdown, found herself homeless with no support.
“It’s important to recognise that the wheels can fall off for anyone at any time,” she says.
“It’s amazing to see the resilience people have, and when there is personal growth that the person you are helping can recognise in themselves. A lot of the people we work with are dealing with mental health struggles, and they often just need someone to check in on them and take the time to talk with them.
“I plan to volunteer once I have finished my working life, I can’t imagine not being involved in helping people and making a difference in their lives.”
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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