Launched in November 2019, the development in Pakenham is a joint initiative between the Peter & Lyndy White Foundation, Cardinia Shire Council, Sienna Homes, Wayss and Windermere. Wayss and Windermere partner to provide operational oversight of the project, including the delivery of project outcomes. Onsite support to the resident women and children is provided through Wayss family violence services and clients have a dedicated Wayss Property Services team member managing the property and rental agreements. Windemere deliver child and family services on site to residents.
Although the homes are part of a single facility, they have been purposefully designed to blend into the local surrounds and are indistinguishable from other housing in the area.
The facility provides up to two years of housing for women and accompanying children at risk of homelessness due to family violence and who need stable housing to enable recovery. It provides the families who live there with the stability and support they need to flourish and move on to live independently of support services.
There are ten homes in this purpose built complex of 2, 3 or 4 bedrooms, with access to a large communal outdoor family space, green play space and BBQ area. Two workers are based at a small onsite office to enable easy access to family violence and child and family support and there is space for small group activities and counselling services
Throughout the residents’ tenancy, support is provided in the areas of:
- positive parenting
- community engagement
- participation in education
- training and employment
- life skills development.
During their stay residents are provided with support to plan, access and maintain permanent housing.
This development is informed by the guiding principle of Housing First – that safe and secure housing should be quickly provided prior to, and not conditional upon, addressing other health and well-being issues. The Main Street project adapts this approach to a family violence context.
A longer term, safe place to live provides the stability needed to avert homelessness and disrupt prolonged family violence crisis experienced by many women and children so that they can be supported in their recovery journey and live a life free from violence.
The power of partnership
The power of partnership is key to the success of the Main Street project, an initiative that we believe is creating exciting new pathways for similar ventures to follow. The project has become a leading example of philanthropy, business, community organisations and local council working together to deliver resources that yield tangible results for vulnerable community members. The development has forged a new path in creating fit for purpose housing solutions that do not rely solely on government funding.
32 families have been supported since properties opened in November 2019 with 78 children also being supported. Client exits from Main Street have included:
- Community Housing x 5
- OoH x 2
- Women’s Housing x 2
- Haven Safe Homes x 1
- Private Rental x 11
- Returned to New Zealand x 1
LGA’s client moved to:
- Cardinia x 3
- City of Greater Dandenong x 4
- Casey x 9
- Other x 6
Upon welcoming all clients at Main Street, each family member is provided with their own hand made quilt, donated by a Quilters Group. The Quilters Group have been supporting WAYSS for many years and continue to support clients supported through the Main Street properties.
In 2022 *Maria and her four children became homeless due to family violence, upon leaving the relationship *Maria received emergency accommodation through St Kilda Crisis, The Orange Door and Wayss. The family stayed in emergency motel accommodation for a period of 1 month. During this time *Maria and her children received support through Wayss Rapid Response team, by way of regular phone contact, financial support and referral to crisis service supports external to Wayss to help support *Maria and her children with counselling and material aid.
Due to *Maria and her children becoming homeless because of family violence, *Maria was put forward for a vacancy at Main Street and was accepted. When *Maria moved in she cried, she said she couldn’t believe she had a safe home for her and her children to live, and “a home with three toilets”. Whilst at Main Street, *Maria has been linked in with a Specialist Family Violence Practitioner, to help support *Maria and her children on their journey beyond family violence, they have also been linked in with a Wayss Housing Support worker to support *Maria to find long-term housing.
*Maria and her children were also linked in with Windermere family support, Windermere supported school transition from their previous school to local schools in the area. Windermere have also supported *Maria to keep her children engaged with school, supported the family with financial aid to help pay for after school programs including respite for *Maria through holiday program.
*Maria and her children have lived at Main Street for 12 months, she said they have 12 months to go before they find long-term accommodation. *Maria plans to stay in the local area, indicating she and the kids have everything they need in the local area, though if she is unable to find long-term housing in area, she will look at moving further out, somewhere in Gippsland.
*Maria and her family have found piece and safety in Main Street, and are living free from family violence, they are putting their life back together, as stated by *Maria, “it hasn’t always been easy, but we are safe”.