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Govt won't rule out job cuts in city homeless service overhaul

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The State Government has refused to rule out job losses in an overhaul planned for its frontline homeless service in Adelaide’s CBD, InDaily can reveal.

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The Street To Home service locates and assists rough sleepers in the city, providing health and housing support to homeless people who do not present to other services.

But the Government says Street To Home has “departed from its original structure” and “needs to be realigned to its original intended core functions”.

A spokesperson this morning told InDaily a “new service model” would be implemented at Street To Home later this year – but declined to rule out job cuts or provide details of planned changes.

“The Government recognises that the Street to Home service model has departed from its original structure and therefore needs to be realigned to its original intended core functions in order to better service South Australians sleeping rough in the CBD,” the spokesperson said.

“There will be no reduction in funding for the frontline homelessness services provided by Street to Home, but an improved service model will be examined.”

The spokesperson added that the views of Street to Home staff, as well as other city homelessness providers, would be taken into account in developing the new model.

“The new service model is expected to begin later this year,” the spokesperson said.

“Street to Home services will continue until the new model is agreed.”

Shelter SA executive director Alice Clark told InDaily Street To Home was a vital service in Adelaide’s CBD, helping prevent deaths, imprisonment and hospitalisation of people living on Adelaide’s streets by engaging with homeless people who may not otherwise get help.

“What we know is that there are access barriers to homeless services … there are still gaps in service delivery,” Clark said

“There are [people] sleeping rough who are not known to service providers … but would take up the offer of a meal [and] shelter.

“Young people especially don’t consider themselves homeless.”

Clark said the service had helped prevent rough sleepers dying from hypothermia or heat exhaustion, and that funding for Street To Home should be increased.

“I would have thought we should be expanding these sorts of services,” she said.

Street To Home is based on an outreach model developed in New York City and brought to South Australia by then-Thinker In Residence Rosanne Haggerty.

A 2013 evaluation of the Street To Home service by Flinders University researchers found it was effective in quickly helping rough sleepers to find temporary accommodation.

“Participants were grateful [for] the range of assistance, the ‘friendship’ of Street To Home workers and on-going offers of support,” the evaluation says.

“… there were few other services available to work with participants in the holistic way of Street To Home services.”

That year, then-manager of Street To Home Scott Kerdel spoke to InDaily, describing how the service worked.

“We operate seven days a week,” he said. “One part of our service is called the ‘street work service’ where two staff members head out early in the morning, around 7.30, to try and seek out people who are sleeping rough.”

“So we patrol through the parklands and the inner city streets and go out to other areas in the metro area where we may be aware of people sleeping rough.

“We try to build up really good networks with the local councils, businesses, mainstream services, so they’ll let us know – hold on, there’s someone sleeping behind our building in this street here, or someone in this park.”

InDaily contacted Street To Home, Hutt Street Homeless Shelter and Flinders University researchers Eleanor Button and Jo Baulderstone for comment.

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