Telephone support program highlighting gaps in community services

Three months ago we launched Aboriginal Community Home Connect, a free telephone support service for Aboriginal renters living in Victorian social housing.

Home Connect is funded by the Victorian Government as a six-month project, offering support, resources and check-ups to over 4000 Aboriginal community and public housing households throughout Victoria.

Among the key benefits is a chance to simply have a yarn, which has been never more important as we navigate the challenges of COVID-19 and isolation in our community.

It’s mid-way through the program and we have already both received and made thousands of calls, and are providing dedicated support to over 200 participants.

And we are learning a lot about the alarming gap in services for our community.

The top three reasons for seeking support from Home Connect are urgent food aid, social isolation and mental health. Other reasons include general health, housing, financial difficulties and family violence. Many times it is a combination of these.

Some callers are vulnerable Elders who are too frightened to go out into the community because of the pandemic and simply want a friendly Aboriginal person to yarn with. Regular callers have booked in three times a week to do exactly that, just yarn with a friendly voice to alleviate the impact of social isolation.

Three months into this six month lapsing program has highlighted there is little, if any, safety net for many of our vulnerable but resilient First Nations Peoples.

A service such as the ACHC program must continue to cover the gaps.

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