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Australia’s first psychosocial support program for people at risk of homelessness

In a national first, Brisbane South PHN has partnered with Micah Projects, YFS, the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Community Health Service (ATSICHS) and the Institute of Urban Indigenous Health (IUIH) to deliver Home and Healthy, a psychosocial supports program for people at risk of insecure housing and homelessness.

Experiencing housing insecurity and homelessness are directly linked to poor health and wellbeing outcomes. Our healthcare system partners and mental health services report that the issue of homelessness is growing in our region and is taking a significant toll on people’s overall health and wellbeing.  

In 2022, our Health Needs Assessment identified that around 6,000 people who live in the Brisbane south region are affected by homelessness, a figure higher than the rest of Queensland (2022). These rates are up to 5 times higher in Brisbane’s inner-city suburbs, accounting for 4 out of every 10 people experiencing homelessness in the state. 

On top of this, we’ve received significant feedback from our health care system partners that unstable housing and the risk of homelessness continues to rise in our region. As a result, the number of people seeking access to mental health services who are impacted by homelessness is increasing. 

That’s where the Home and Healthy psychosocial supports program comes in. Home and Healthy is a direct response to a healthcare system gap that people who experience homelessness or those are vulnerable because of unstable housing have less access to the National Disability Incentive Scheme (NDIS). These people are also said to have less access to implement a suitable NDIS plan that adequately supports their needs.  

“Psychosocial supports help people develop skills for positive mental health and wellbeing,’ explained Robyn Bell, Program Manager, Mental Health, Suicide Prevention, Alcohol and other Drugs, Brisbane South PHN.  

“People may choose to work on how they manage their money, obtain secure housing, pursue vocational or educational goals, or how to manage addictions. Without these fundamental skills and access to basic needs, the impacts on people’s mental health and wellbeing can be significant.” 

Home and Healthy offers service navigation and specialist NDIS knowledge to collate evidence and test people’s eligibility to access NDIS supports. It supports people with severe mental ill health who: 

  • Are aged 16 years and over. *  
  • Have complex housing and homeless support needs that impact their mental health (or vice versa).  
  • Are not receiving similar psychosocial supports through a state/territory government program or the NDIS.  
  • Have met guidelines. **   
  • Are not restricted in their ability to fully and actively participate in the community because of their residential setting*** 

If a person is successful in their NDIS application, Home and Healthy then works to: 

  • supports people through any NDIS planning process and set-up and connects them with relevant services 
  • build the capacity of health service staff so that they understand and support people’s specific needs 
  • create an integrated health care network around a person, including supporting GPs and General Practices on how best to help these patients.  

* Noting exceptions can be made for people under 16 years based on the appropriateness of support provided. 

** have an associated reduced psychosocial functional capacity as demonstrated through a Functional Assessment 

***, e.g., because they are in prison or in-patient in psychiatric service. 

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