Canberra boosts housing for people living with long-term mental illnesses


Two new homes, purpose-built by Canberra Health Services and the Community Services Directorate, will open later this month housing up to eight residents living with long-term mental illness.


The homes are part of a $22.8 million initiative to support up to 15 individuals with mental illness to live independently in the community. The first of the four homes opened to residents in May 2019.


Support is provided to residents by mental health teams from Canberra Health Services and a community agency of the resident’s choice. Each home also includes a dedicated space for a support worker.


The Mental Health Foundation provides the services to one of the existing homes in Florey where there have been four full-time residents since it opened.


A recent evaluation of the home found there had been fewer hospitalisations among residents, residents had increased access to support and were able to maintain a tenancy.


Securing accommodation in the homes gives residents certainty about their future and supports them on their journey back to independent living, according to Canberra Health Services.


“Safe housing is one of the basic human necessities and a group home can provide a sense of belonging, companionship and social interaction which otherwise some people would not fully experience,” Canberra Health Services said.


“Depending on a resident’s goals, access to this supported accommodation may lead to them progressing to their own residence with supports in place in the future.”


There had been a demand for more housing of this kind, according to Ellen Mugridge of the Mental Health Foundation.


“We are currently providing a program in partnership with the Adult Mental Health Unit (at Canberra Hospital). This program helps find accommodation for people exiting the Adult Mental health Unit that are experiencing homelessness. Through this program we can see that there is a need for greater amounts of community housing,” she said.


Havelock Housing manages the lease for the support accommodation.


“Havelock Housing is excited to be a part of this innovative and collaborative effort to deliver purpose-built homes for Canberrans on the pathway to recovery from long-term mental health illness,” Havelock Housing CEO Andrew Rowe said.


“A safe home will provide a stable foundation to rebuild their mental health and, with support, integrate back into the community.


“The current home in Florey is an exemplar of joint government and community organisation efforts providing exceptional support for those Canberrans most in need.”


Region Media has chosen not to name the location of the two new homes for privacy reasons.

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