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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2007 Week 12 Hansard (Thursday, 22 November 2007) . . Page.. 3713 ..

Housing ACT continues to provide a range of training courses to equip staff with the skills to assist clients, identify needs and refer clients to appropriate external specialist services. The role of the client support coordinators and team leader is to work alongside staff and to coach and mentor staff to assist clients with complex needs. The housing manger duty statement has recently been revised to capture skills, knowledge and experience that staff require to work with clients with complex needs. These skills are important in the day-to-day work of housing providers in being responsive to the needs of people with mental illness.

Appropriate housing responses for these people require an understanding of their needs and how these may arise differently throughout the course of their tenancy. For example, a person living with a mental illness may require increasing security measures to ensure peace of mind and personal safety. Housing ACT provides a range of staff training and development activities which aim to improve understanding of the issues facing Housing ACT tenants, including mental health first aid training.

The ACT government already supports a range of innovative housing models through the provision of head leased properties and is committed to establishing innovative and flexible housing solutions for people with a range of support requirements. Centacare’s LINC project, which supports people with a disability, and the partnership between Richmond Fellowship and Havelock Housing Association are successful community housing models that assist people with complex needs to gain and maintain stable housing within the community.

These models provide a more supportive tenancy management. However, models of supportive housing can span public housing, as well as community housing. Housing ACT, in consultation with Mental Health ACT, is also currently examining options where intensive support can be provided to residents of public housing. This gives consumers greater choice. Where a person or family has specific and/or complex support requirements to enable them to live within the community, Housing ACT seeks to identify an appropriate community service provider to assume head lease of the property and undertake a supportive tenancy management arrangement.

This approach has delivered some innovative community development responses to the management of neighbourhood complaints which may arise when a person has a mental health crisis. This involves talking to the neighbours of the head leased property, with consent from the client, about the issues facing the tenant and/or their family and providing neighbours with information on what to do and who to contact in the event of a crisis. Brokerage funding can be used flexibly in these cases and has on occasion been used to provide respite to neighbours in the event of a particularly prolonged period of crisis.

The government acknowledges that the housing needs of children and young people are not necessarily the same as the housing needs of adults. Children and young people who develop mental illness or whose parents have a mental illness may be at risk of homelessness, housing instability or poor social outcomes without appropriate housing and support. The government recently commissioned research from the

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