Since the current flood crisis began, we have been supporting our residents and clients with information through direct and online channels, essential services and additional support.
One essential service that has continued despite the floods is our Assertive Outreach service. The service supports people who are experiencing or at risk of homelessness. Within the Hawkesbury-Nepean Valley, our Community Services Team is out in the community most of the week.
Here we talk to Christy, a member from the Team to get her perspective on the floods, how it has impacted our clients and what we are doing to assist.
What does the Assertive Outreach consist of?
I conduct outreach four days a week, every week. Currently, we have been going out to check in with rough sleepers living along or near the Hawkesbury River and other flood zones.
We attended the Hawkesbury River at Windsor and Richmond a day before it flooded. We let clients know it was going to flood and ensured they had moved away from the flood zone, assisting them to move where required. We had one client that was still along the river.
The water was high and we could see the water was rising. There was a lot of rain and some of the roads were starting to flood. Then, we were out at Penrith to do the same, checking that no one was along the riverbanks.
What is the broader team doing during this time?
Our Community Services Team works with people who are currently experiencing or at risk of homelessness. That includes couch surfers and rough sleepers who are out in the community.
The Team is making sure their clients are safe and that they know about emergency procedures and services like the evacuation centres. We are also working together with the Department of Communities and Justice, and our service partners to better assist each other’s clients.
What impact does flood events have on your clients?
In the Hawkesbury with all the road closures, clients are isolated and there is no transport. They can’t access certain places where they would potentially stay or sleep. One of our clients lost his site and all his belongings but we were able to get him to safety.
Why is outreach important during this time?
Many of our clients don’t have access to news and social media to keep informed of what’s happening. It is important for us to go out to keep them updated and make sure they are safe.
How does this year compare to last year’s floods?
Last year, we experienced mainly flash floods with no warning. This year we had more warning, so we were able to prepare and go out the day before to warn clients. We were able to be proactive and offer vulnerable people temporary accommodation before the floods hit. The water is much higher this year.
Our Community Services Team operates in Penrith and the Hawkesbury and may be able to help people impacted by the floods by facilitating access to Link2Home for temporary accommodation, and support through our partner services. Please call our Penrith Hub on 02 4777 8041 if you need assistance.