Rather than offering something I have found out about Port Melbourne this week or using this blog as a testing ground for some ideas or analysis I thought I would share a little about a forum I went to on Thursday- The Lord Mayor’s Charitable Fund Melbourne’s Road Home Forum.

Whenever I put my name down for events like this I cannot decide if it is a great opportunity or a terrible waste of time. It turned out it was probably worth it as the Victorian Minister for Housing (Wendy Lovell) was speaking. Lovell, talking about addressing homelessness after the Commonwealth Nation Building project finishes, suggested that they need to make sure they do not ‘tip more money over the cliff’ as there had been a 39% increase in homelessness funding but an increase in homeless people. She went on to say that they needed to address the root causes, ensure that actions are evidence based and that they get better outcomes.

I really hope that the types of ‘evidence’ her department is drawing on is more than simply the raw numbers, as I think there have been a few things that have changed over the past few years in Victoria other than the amount of money spent on homelessness. As I have probably said online before, as the new state government has released what seems to be so little policy in the areas I have an interest, the actions of state government takes up very little of my reading time. If there have been policy announcements I have missed, please let me know.

Unsurprisingly, the most charismatic speaker was Bryan Lipmann from Wintringham (a service which has amazing facilities and funding for staff to provide some of the best accommodation for the elderly homeless). It did surprise me a little that he said he is only just trying to get his head around the significance of the ‘sense of community’ to the positive outcomes they have and why they are able to do it well. I wondered if this sense of ‘new discovery’ was more of a rhetorical device to bring the audience with him. However, he was bold in his suggesting that you can link it all back to Marx and alienation. I was quite interested in what he said about one program providing an opportunity for just four men to find a sense of community in a house and then be able to move into a larger community. Finally, Lipmann’s enthusiasm for a shared vision of staff, independent of the organisation’s leaders, passed down to clients was a nice counter to my more common experience of vision statements of highly workshopped marketing tools.

I have many more pages of notes. As many of the other speakers dealt more directly with the material aspects of appropriate housing, perhaps I can save them for another post.

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