Leading systems-wide responses to homelessness
From leading cross-sector, systems-wide change to providing private funding and support, meet some not-for-profit leaders and APS clients at the heart of solving homelessness in Australia.
Homelessness is solvable
‘Homelessness in Australia is a complex, systemic problem, and it’s getting worse, not better,’ says Jacqui Jones, CEO of The Constellation Project. ‘The good news is that it’s solvable. The question has always been how.’
The Constellation Project brings together corporates, governments, academia, philanthropists, not-for-profits, and those with lived experience of homelessness, to bring their unique expertise to the table.
"If we only fund things where we know what all the outcomes are, then we’ll never change the system."
Jacqui Jones, CEO of The Constellation Project
The organisation is currently focused on solving the supply shortage of affordable, low-to-medium income housing and supporting young adults transitioning from out-of-home and foster care.
Jacqui is excited by the growing interest of philanthropists in funding systems-level changes.
‘When it comes to making progress in systems change, it’s important for donors to provide multi-year funding and be willing to back new approaches which are both research-based and co-produced with people with lived experience.’
‘If we only fund things where we know what all the outcomes are, then we’ll never change the system.’
Prevention and policy change
Graham West, CEO of the End Street Sleeping Collaboration, echoes Jacqui Jones’ call for holistic solutions. ‘What we need is to prevent people falling into this predicament, and that takes systems-wide change, multi-sector collaboration, and strong communication between hundreds of services.’
‘Sometimes people get locked in the system for reasons such as leaving the housing department with a debt or having a tenancy record on the system. Simple policy changes such as creating the right exemptions go a long way.’
"Philanthropists’ giving, volunteering, activism, and leadership are incredibly powerful."
Graham West, CEO of the End Street Sleeping Collaboration
Graham says philanthropists play an essential role in ending homelessness that stretches beyond their financial support.
‘Philanthropists’ giving, volunteering, activism, and leadership are incredibly powerful. They’re saying loudly to governments, local communities and wider society that this is a problem that needs attention and can be solved. Continued philanthropic investment is an important part of solving this issue which has both a moral and economic imperative.’
Contributing more than money
APS client Jane Sharpington-Recny is one such philanthropist. Along with her family, Jane supports Stepping Stone House. This Sydney-based not-for-profit organisation provides medium-to-long-term accommodation for young adults experiencing homelessness. It also assists young adults with employment, education, mental health and wellbeing support.
‘These young people end up on the streets isolated, vulnerable and frightened. We have had the pleasure of donating to and volunteering at Stepping Stone House for some years now. It has been a very fulfilling experience,’ Jane says.
‘As well as doing sewing and cooking workshops, we have had the opportunity to take groups of young people out sailing on Sydney Harbour.’
‘Sadly, in Australia today, hundreds of young people are turned away from facilities like Stepping Stone House each week due to lack of accommodation, funding and facilities. We hope that our modest contribution can contribute to significant change.’
Innovation to think outside the box
Michael Graf, an APS client and director of the Graf Family Foundation, supports Orange Sky Laundry, a for-purpose organisation providing connection to people experiencing homelessness through mobile laundry and shower services.
"As a family, Orange Sky’s focus on creating a safe, positive, and supportive environment for people experiencing homelessness was important to us."
Michael Graf, Graf Family Foundation
‘Clean clothes provide a strong sense of positive self-worth, allowing people experiencing homelessness to pursue work opportunities that would be otherwise impossible,’ Michael says. ‘Orange Sky volunteers also build relationships and act as mentors, which helps build social skills and confidence.’
‘As a family, Orange Sky’s focus on creating a safe, positive, and supportive environment for people experiencing homelessness was important to us. We continue to support them as their expansive view, willingness to work with many others, and innovation to think outside the box is strongly appealing.’