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‘Changing lives day by day’: An interview with Julia

‘Changing lives day by day’: An interview with Julia

Together Home is a program delivered in partnership with the NSW government, community housing providers, specialist homelessness services and health services, which helps people who are experiencing primary homelessness into permanent and safe accommodation. The program also provides support services to help clients maintain their tenancy, improve health and wellbeing and move towards training and employment.

Link Wentworth is proudly the largest provider of Together Home in the state.

Julia is the Specialist Support Lead of our Together Home program and manages a group of Case Workers who help clients into accommodation and support. A passionate and knowledgable leader, Julia’s efforts with Together Home were acknowledged in June at the 2022 ZEST Awards, where she won Outstanding Community Leader.

Today, we speak to Julia about how she got her start with us and why she considers our client group so special.

The amazing potential, resilience, humanity and strength we get to see everyday within the people we work with is amazing.

– Julia

What do you do at Link Wentworth and how long have you worked here?

I began my employment with the organisation five years ago, as the Assertive Outreach Worker. This purpose of this role is to engage with people who are sleeping rough and assist them in accessing appropriate services and accommodation. I then became the Specialist Support Lead 2 years ago. This role leads a team of Case Workers to provide support to people in the Together Home Program. 

Can you explain the Together Home program and how your team helps those experiencing homelessness?

Together Home was rolled out by the NSW Government as a response to COVID, although has progressed from there. The purpose of the program is to provide people who have a history of sleeping rough with access to housing and two years’ wraparound support. Together Home is guided by Housing First principles and we practice these the best we can within the constraints of current resources.

You’ve been selected as a Housing First-accredited trainer. Can you please talk to us about how this happened and what it entails?

As part of my role as Assertive Outreach Worker, we worked on a couple of collaborative programs to assist with areas of a large amount of people sleeping rough. This was Judges Carpark Penrith and the Hawkesbury. The idea of the projects was to assist those sleeping rough into housing and provide support. My manager at the time designed these projects using some evidence practices from the Housing First model. This ignited a passion and interest in Housing First.

Council to Homeless Persons in conjunction with Homelessness Australia sent three people over to Europe to Train in Housing First principles and bring their learning back to Australia. They then put out an EOI for the Train the Trainer Program, where 10 people from across Australia were chosen to participate in the train the trainer program. I was successful in the expression of interest and it went from there.

Since the first round, there has been a second round of trainers across Australia, creating greater advocacy and knowledge in Housing First principles.

What do you wish more people knew about your line of work? Is there a principle or quote you live by?

Everybody has the right to a home! The amazing potential, resilience, humanity and strength we get to see everyday within the people we work with is amazing. It takes time to build trust and rapport as so many people have been disadvantaged by systems, although once people realise you genuinely wish the best for them, it is onwards and upwards from there.

Sometimes all people need is just one person to believe in them and they can achieve anything. Our Teams motto is “changing lives day by day”.

Can you share any stories that illustrate the importance of the Together Home program?

Oh wow, there are so many. One of the greatest things we see are people reconnecting with family, able to have their grandchildren stay in their house, reconnecting with children and siblings etc. It’s beautiful. People who have come from long term homelessness, incarceration, addiction, trauma to now having appropriate supports, living within the community, maintaining a tenancy and looking to the future with positivity.

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