From 29 April 2022, Compass Housing Services became Home In Place.

Home in Place staff, and some of its tenants on the NSW Mid North Coast, will receive special training to better understand and support people with hoarding and domestic squalor disorders, thanks to funding from the Foundation for Rural Regional Recovery (FRRR).

Taree-based Community Participation Officer Michelle Palmer is one Home in Place staff member who will receive training. She said Home in Place is working with partners in the region – Community Housing Limited (CHL) and Mission Australia Housing (MAH) – as well as Aboriginal Community Housing Ltd to run the Treasured Insights (Mental Health – Inside Out Recovery) project.

Michelle said the project will build the capacity of community housing staff and tenants to understand the disorders and assist people on their journey to change behaviours and declutter their environment.

She said the training will start in February 2024. Twenty staff from the three community housing organisations will attend a two-day workshop.  There will also be one day workshop for tenants experiencing hoarding and domestic squalor disorders to attend, followed by a 15-week online course. The tenant program will be run twice in different parts of the region to maximise people’s ability to participate.

The in-person tenant workshop gives those attending an opportunity to form a network to support one another in their journey of recovery. The trained staff from the community housing organisations will support tenants as they undertake the online program.

“Hoarding and domestic squalor disorders are complex mental health conditions and carry a lot of stigma,” Michelle said.

“This project is designed to establish a sustainable network to give tenants insights that can lead to behavioural changes, now and in the future,” she said.

“It will be co-led by tenants who will have direct input into their own recovery. Our staff will be better able to assess and work with tenants experiencing hoarding and domestic squalor disorders on their individual recovery plan.”

People experiencing hoarding disorder have difficulty, and can experience distress, letting go of or throwing things out regardless of their value. This leads to an accumulation of possessions and rubbish that clutters their homes and yards. (Source – Australian Government’s HealthDirect website.)

A 2016 report by The Australian National University (ANU) Research School of Psychology estimated the disorder effects between two to six per cent of Australians. The report said the mental health condition affects people’s quality of life and is associated with unnecessary deaths. It said 25 per cent of deaths from fires in homes occur in homes of people with a hoarding problem.

CHL, Mission Australia and Home in Place signed a Memorandum of Understanding in March 2023 to boost community engagement support for their respective tenants. The three organisations collaborate and share resources to help build more resilient and connected communities in Port Macquarie, Taree, Bulahdelah, Forster, Tuncurry, Wingham, Kempsey, South West Rocks, Macksville, Nambucca Heads, Bellingen and Coffs Harbour.

“The Treasured Insights project is another example of how our partnership with CHL and Mission Australia is helping us to work together to benefit our communities. On this project, CHL is the lead grant applicant and Home in Place is supporting its administration.”

The FRRR funding came from its In a Good Place (IAGP) program. In partnership with CCI Giving, the IAGP program awarded $250,000 in grants to 17 projects across remote, rural and regional Australia that support and promote the mental health and wellbeing of local people.

Home in Place manages more than 700 social housing properties in the NSW Mid Coast Local Government Area. Its regional office is in Taree, on Biripi Country.

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