The theme for this year’s Homelessness Week (2 – 7 August) is ‘Everybody Needs a Home’, and Monash Health senior social worker Sushma Shrestha is playing a key role in an initiative to tackle homelessness in Dandenong and Frankston.
Homelessness is a deep-seated and long-standing issue, which has only become more acute during the COVID pandemic.
The Rough Sleeper Initiative (RSI) is a pilot project led by Launch Housing, working with Monash Health and other organizations including Bolton Clark, Neami National and Melbourne City Mission.
Sushma screens clients who are identified as rough sleepers in our psychiatric units at Dandenong Hospital and links them with workers from the RSI team.
A key part of her role is secondary consultation to clinical staff across Monash health Mental Health Program on housing and homelessness, and working with community mental health to support clients needing crisis housing.
Sushma also helps the RSI team navigate mental health services and access social work support.
“Homelessness is a deep-rooted systemic and socio-economic issue but what we can do at a service and individual level is crucial,” says Sushma.
“At a service level, it is about reaching out and building partnership and collaboration with the housing services. At an individual level, it is about appropriate assessment and advocacy.”
The RSI team are providing crisis response to people sleeping rough in the city of Dandenong by rapidly placing them in motels.
Sushma’s work has resulted in close to one third of the total active clients accessing medium- and long-term housing.
She recently collaborated with Launch housing staff to provide a successful half-day training session on housing and homelessness for mental health social workers.
A series of activities are planned for Homelessness Week in partnership with the Everybody’s Home campaign. More information can be found here.