Mental health focus for those experiencing homelessness

Mental health focus for those experiencing homelessness

07/05/2021 | Michelle Lensink MLC | Better Services

South Australians experiencing homelessness in the city will get expanded, specialised mental health support through a new partnership with leading provider Sonder under the biggest shake-up of services in more than a decade.


It is the first-time such a prominent mental health provider has been tasked with supporting our most vulnerable experiencing homelessness.

Sonder forms part of the new Adelaide South homelessness alliance and will provide inner[1]city and southern services from July 1, following an open, competitive tender process.

Minister for Human Services Michelle Lensink said the Sonder support expands on mental health and outreach services that had previously operated in the inner-city.

“We know that mental health issues and homelessness often go hand in hand and tackling this issue through targeted support is key to helping reduce homelessness in South Australia,” said Minister Lensink.

“People experiencing homelessness often experience a range of factors that influence their capacity to maintain stable housing – including poor mental health.

“That’s why having Sonder onboard in the inner-city and southern suburbs will really help our most vulnerable, with the ultimate aim of getting these South Australians back on track and into longer-term safe and stable housing.

“Better client outcomes was the number one reason why we spearheaded these forms and now, they will be able to get the help they need, when they it – critically, without having to tell their story multiple times, or visiting multiple organisations.”

Adelaide South Alliance head and Lutheran Care chief executive officer Rohan Feegrade said the reforms would make services more responsive.

“We believe these reforms are game-changing and will mean real and positive changes in people’s lives,” said Mr Feegrade.

“Homeless people, particularly rough sleepers, have traditionally lacked access to meaningful and ongoing health and mental health support, which is something set to change under the new Adelaide South alliance. “Sonder has provided integrated, high quality health and support services to the community for more than 25 years.

“As one of the leading providers of mental health services in South Australia, Sonder will work to address the contributing factors toward homelessness by providing a flexible mobile service that will provide individuals experiencing homelessness with direct mental health and physical health nursing support.

“Under Sonder’s service, a Peer Support Outreach Service will regularly engage with people in the inner-city to offer and maintain support.

This includes an Aboriginal Outreach Worker and Care Coordinator to ensure effective engagement with Aboriginal clients.”

Sonder Chief Executive Officer Sageran Naidoo said mental health was a “key part of the puzzle that needs to be addressed for long-term charge”.

“We know that poor mental health can be a huge barrier for people who are homeless to reconnect them with safe accommodation but in the long term, getting them back on a path toward a happy and healthy life,” said Mr Naidoo.

“We have a mobile support team who can offer mental health services there and then, meaning the client doesn’t have to wait to receive an appointment at a later date.

“Our experienced team will offer counselling support for those who may be experiencing stress, anxiety or depression and provide them with strategies to help them to manage those symptoms, so that they are in a better position to manage their housing needs.”

The Adelaide South Alliance includes Lutheran Care, Aboriginal Community Services, The Salvation Army, Mission Australia, Baptist Care SA and Sonder.

Under the reforms, there has been no reduction to homelessness funding.


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