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1.3.1 Homelessness assistance including the disruptive behaviour management strategy

Last Modified: 22-Mar-2022 Review Date: 01-Jul-2018

 ‭(Hidden)‬ Legislation

Overview

Enquiries for homelessness assistance

Perth:  Requests for assistance go to Statewide Referral and Response Service (SRRS).
Regional and remote districts:  Requests go to the duty officer in the district office. 

The Department of Communities (the Department) provides services to vulnerable children, young people and families at risk or in crisis.  Where this crisis is homelessness, we assist people when there are no other services providers, and their vulnerability is significant.  

Support is offered to children and families who at risk of, or experiencing, primary homelessness, defined as sleeping rough without a roof over their head. 

The support provided is short term - to address the immediate crisis by providing a referral to a homelessness accommodation and support service, and/or assessing suitability for financial assistance through a one-off payment for low cost overnight accommodation.  The Department funds a range of homelessness accommodation and support services that assist people who are homeless or at risk of homelessness.

Assistance to acquire stable or longer-term accommodation is the responsibility of homelessness and support agencies, and the Department's Housing Services.  Information about Housing Services can be found on its website.

The Homeless Assistance Policy is based on the premise that we are not a housing provider and do not have access to ongoing accommodation. 

The Disruptive Behaviour Management Strategy

The Disruptive Behaviour Management Strategy (DBMS) was implemented to address community concerns about antisocial behaviour by tenants in public housing.

There are three levels of disruptive behaviour - Dangerous, Serious and Minor.

  • Tenants found to have engaged in dangerous behaviours will have immediate action taken against them to terminate their tenancy.

  • Those found to have engaged in serious breaches will receive a strike - if another strike for a serious breach is earned in a 12 month period, they will face eviction.

  • For proven minor behaviours, three strikes in 12 months will result in termination of the tenancy.

For more information refer to the Disruptive Behaviour Management Strategy Brochure.  Our role with families with children who have incurred a strike or strikes is to assess what supports (in addition to those provided through Housing) could be provided to limit the likelihood of further strikes or eviction.

Districts are encouraged to develop and maintain local relationships with their corresponding Housing officers, particularly Housing officers with responsibility for the DBMS.


Rules

  • Where homeless families with children request assistance to access accommodation, you must assess whether the children are at significant risk of harm and, if so, offer support services accordingly.

  • If children are at risk, as a first option you must provide a referral to a homelessness accommodation and support service, or you may provide financial support for low cost overnight accommodation from one to three nights.  In Perth, refer your enquiry to SRRS, and in regional and remote districts, refer to the duty officer.   

  • Where the Housing Services provides information to child protection about families with children who have incurred a ‘strike’, you must consider the safety and wellbeing of the children and decide whether to make a referral or offer other support to the family to prevent eviction.  Duty officers must select '16–Housing–3 Strikes' as the contact method in Assist.

  • Where a family presents on multiple occasions (including requests for financial assistance) within a short period, you must assess risk to the children.

  • If you decide not to undertake an assessment, you must record the raionale for your decision and it must be approved by the responsible senior officer.  

  • With every subsequent contact with the family (including for financial assistance), you must review the decision to undertake an assessment and record your latest decision and rationale; this must also be approved by the responsible senior officer.  

Process Maps

Information and Instructions

  • Determine family eligibility for accommodation assistance
  • Entrypoint Perth
  • Family Crisis program - homelessness - families
  • Disruptive Behaviour Management Strategy – Housing
  • Alternative assistance programs for individuals and families
  • Determine family eligibility for accommodation assistance

    When a family with children presents to a district office as homeless, assistance can be provided in cases where all of the following three conditions are met:

    1. The family has no shelter, that is, they are ‘primary homeless’.

    2. The family has no other resources or has exhausted all other resources including financial resources, Centrelink payments and assistance from friends and family. 

    3. Children will be at risk of significant harm if assistance is not provided.

    If an eligible family requires our assistance with accommodation, refer the request to SRRS (metropolitan) and in regional and remoted districts, to the duty officer.  The SRRS also assess eligibility for financial support through the Family Crisis Program.  

    In Perth, requests for assistance are referred to Entrypoint Perth.  Out of hours, SRRS can refer to their Resource Directory for information about the availability of emergency accommondation.

    Where ongoing accommodation is required, referral to a housing agency is appropriate.  Housing has a single entry portal for housing options information.  

    Where there are no vacancies for homelessness accommodation and support services, alternative assistance options include:

    1. Providing other assistance to free up the family's resources to facilitate accommodation options (for example, where a family member or friend is willing to accommodate the client if they contribute to food expenses), or 

    2. Paying for overnight accommodation expenses in a low cost hotel, caravan park, etc., through financial assistance as discussed below. 

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    Entrypoint Perth

    Entrypoint Perth, operated by Centrecare, is funded to support individuals and families who are homeless or at risk of homelessness.

    Entrypoint Perth's target group includes:

    • Individuals over 15 years of age.
    • Families.
    • Couples without children.
    • Women with or without children who are homeless as a result of family and domestic violence.

    Entrypoint Perth delivers the followings services: 

    1. Accepting referrals from Perth, SRRS, Housing Services and self-referrals.

    2. Screening and assessment of people who contact the service via telephone and face to face methods.

    3. Providing information and/or an immediate referral to suitable accommodation and support services.

    Entrypoint Perth is not a case management service.

    Opening hours:

    Monday to Friday - 9am to 7pm
    Saturday - 9am to 5pm
    Not open Sunday or public holidays. 

    Use the Online Registration Form to contact Entrypoint Perth outside operating hours.

    Referral process:  

    1. The SSRS or duty officer refers clients by phone or the Online Registration Form.

    2. The client must consent to the referral by telephone, or sign the Entrypoint Perth Consent Form

    3. Entrypoint Perth must respond to the referral within one working day. Where an urgent response is required (during Entrypoint Perth's opening hours), you should phone and email Entrypoint Perth to negotiate a response.

    4. Entrypoint Perth will provide feedback on the outcome of the referral.

    The SRRS must refer to the MOU - Entrypoint Perth for information about the referral process.  Assessments can be made over the phone or at a location suitable to the client across Perth. 

    The Department is responsible for:

    1. Assessing children under 15 years of age who present as homeless. 

    2. The case management of a young person in the CEO's care aged 15 -17 years of age.

    3. Supporting children who leave the CEO's care to obtain accommodation.

    4. Providing alternative care and accommodation for young people in the CEO's care who are involved in the criminal justice system.

    5. Young people under 16 years of age who are unable to live at home. 

    6. Providing Family Crisis Program financial support in very urgent situations to families with children and those experiencing family and domestic violence.

    More information can be found in the MOU - Entrypoint Perth (also in related resources).

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    Family Crisis program - homelessness - families

    ​Where a family with children presents as homeless, they may be eligible for a one-off payment for emergency accommodation through the Family Crisis Program.  Financial assistance may be provided for one to three nights. Your team leader must approve financial support for more than one night and district director must approve financial suport for more than three nights. 

    Eligibility

    For families with children to be considered eligible the following conditions must be met:

    1. An unforeseen crisis exists.

    2. There is a demonstration of need.

    3. Other avenues of assistance have been fully explored.

    4. External verification of key events has been sighted by the interviewing officer.

    An 'unforeseen crisis' is where a family is experiencing circumstances beyond their control. This situation has negative consequences that threaten the family's social and emotional wellbeing. Where a person knowingly or repeatedly worsens their financial situation, this is not considered an unforeseen crisis.

    Excluded circumstances

    Excluded circumstances include situations where:

    1. A person knowingly or repeatedly worsens their financial situation.

    2. Where rent or mortgage payments are not paid (these are considered a normal part of household budget management, not an 'unforeseen crisis' - voluntary income management should be discussed with families in these situations).      

    3. Where Centrelink has primary responsibility for payment and payment issues resulting in the unforeseen circumstance.

    Financial assessment

    A financial assessment determines if a family with children is eligible for financial assistance. The financial assessment can include verification of:

    1. The applicant's identity.

    2. The applicant's income. 

    3. That the client does not have the financial resources to resolve their current crisis situation.

    Assist

    To record the assessment and allocation of Family Crisis Program funding in Assist, you must create a new interaction using the 'Homelessness – Families' category: 

    1. Complete the standard interaction screens.

    2. When asked for an 'action' in the related action summary pane select 'application for assistance'. This opens the financial assessment screen to record details.

    3. On the interaction detail tab, select 'financial support' as a primary issue.

    4. On the interaction detail tab 'outcome' drop down menu, select 'financial assistance'.

    5. Once the intake is completed, the next step for processing the payment in Assist varies depending on the payment method chosen. Refer to the Assist User Guides - Financial Assessment  for more information. 

    6. Generate a 'Payment Authorisation Form' to authorise the approval for the funding.

     

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    Disruptive Behaviour Management Strategy – Housing

    To assist a family with children to prevent eviction, Housing share information at 'first strike'.  Our role with these families is to assess what supports (in addition to those provided through Housing) could be provided to limit the likelihood of further strikes or eviction.  Where families face immediate eviction under the DBMS and Housing has assisted the family to access other options, but none are available, Housing provide this information to us. 

    We assess whether the eviction will impact the safety and wellbeing of the children, and what referral or services may be offered. 

    In the first instance, Housing provide this information by telephone or via email to the duty officer.  This information is not provided for us to to take responsibility for the actual or possible accommodation needs of families and children facing eviction.  

    Districts are encouraged to develop and maintain local relationships with their corresponding Housing officers, particularly Housing officers with responsibility for the DBMS. 

    Open cases

    In situations where there is an open case and information about a family is received from Housing, duty officers must complete a duty interaction and inform their team leader and the family's case manager.  They will decide if any supports will be provided to address any identified issues. For further information refer to Chapter 2.2 Processing referrals and interactions

    Interactions

    When duty officers receive information about a child or family who do not have an open case from Housing, they must initiate a duty interaction to determine whether we have an ongoing role in offering support services and the child’s safety, wellbeing and/or protection.

    If it is assessed that we have an ongoing role, time-limited, targeted support may be provided to address homelessness through:

    • support or referral to specialist homelessness services
    • advice regarding other family and/or housing support services, or
    • direct service provision through the Family Crisis Program.

    Intake

    In situations where there are concerns for a child or young person’s wellbeing, you must intake and conduct initial enquiries to determine whether we have any further role.

    If it is assessed that there are significant concerns regarding harm or a significant risk of harm, you must conduct a Child Safety Investigation (CSI) to determine what actions need to taken to safeguard the child or young person’s wellbeing.  For more information refer to the Chapter 2.2 entries: Initial Inquiries and Conducting a Child Safety Investigation.

    Children in the CEO's care

    In cases where a foster or family carer is at ‘first' or 'second strike’, duty officers should complete an interaction and inform the family's the case manager. The case manager must assess if additional support services are required to prevent escalation of further crisis through eviction, and if safety and wellbeing issues require assessment.

    Where assessed as appropriate, we and non-government homelessness accommodation and support services will work in partnership with Housing Services to provide tenancy support in cases of vulnerable families with children at risk of eviction or who have been evicted under DBMS. This may be in the form of referrals to family support services such as Parent Support or Best Beginnings Plus, or referrals to accommodation and homelessness services.  Refer to the 'Entrypoint Perth' section above.  

    Families not facing immediate eviction

    We expect that Housing Services continue to case manage the client and contribute towards improving the circumstances that threaten the tenancy. 

    Recording information

    We must report on information received through the DBMS on Assist in a new interaction with the following values recorded in the relevant areas of the interaction:

    Task

    Agency

    ​Agency Lookup
    ​Department of Housing
    ​Contact Method
    ​16-Housing-3 Strikes
    ​Issue
    ​Housing issue
    ​Detail
    ​Tenancy
    ​Protocol
    ​Housing-3 Strikes Policy

    All other areas of the interaction are recorded according to individual circumstances.

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    Alternative assistance programs for individuals and families

    Individuals and families who present with the following are eligible for assistance under other programs:

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