UPDATE: 23 September 2021
Catherine House Update from General Manager, Julie Duncan
Now that we have emerged from the immediate funding crisis, it’s a good opportunity to share with our donors and supporters where we are at, and the future we see for ourselves thanks to your ongoing loyalty and support.
Pleasingly, we have navigated a pathway forward for Catherine House over the next eighteen months with the Toward Home Alliance and the South Australian Housing Authority.
In the past six months we have received an overwhelming response from the community, particularly our crisis appeal which is underpinning the provision of much needed services.
We cannot thank our donors, philanthropic foundations and supporters enough for your unwavering support.
We are now in a position to focus on our plan for a New Generation Catherine House that will be an effective and contemporary response to women’s homelessness. Central to that plan will be wrap around support services, education, accommodation options and pathways that support South Australian women out of crisis and into stable futures.
We know we’ll need ongoing financial support from the South Australian community to help achieve this vision for a New Generation Catherine House.
But we will continue to back ourselves, as we know the South Australian community has our back, and for that we are incredibly grateful.
Why Catherine House Matters
Catherine House has been operating for 33 years in the CBD of Adelaide providing short, medium and longer term supportive housing responses for women who have experienced homelessness. Our wrap around services are trauma informed and recovery focussed, with a dedicated women’s centre delivering education, training, well-being, social and recreational programs, sitting in the centre of the model. What we are, and what we are not are important to understand in respect to recent changes to homelessness funding and the drivers for the change:
- Catherine House is not a drop-in service, not a day service, not a meal or a shower service, we aren’t a bed for a few nights, or a week, or a motel.
- We aren’t a service that exists to sustain people in their homelessness we are a housing and support response to homelessness.
- Catherine House is not a domestic violence service, but many women who are clients of Catherine House have escaped domestic violence, sexual abuse, or major childhood trauma
We are not an inner-city response for women rough sleeping, we respond to women across the state.
- Catherine House is a supportive housing service for single women who are experiencing homelessness. A woman who is homeless is in crisis.
- We provide accommodation for 3-6 months, coupled with case management support – the stable accommodation, support and services that women need to start their permanent journey out of crisis and homelessness. We take referrals from all Alliance areas across the state – including the Domestic Violence Alliance and we want to continue to do this.
Women who are experiencing homelessness know Catherine House is the place they can directly reach out to and we will support them on their journey out of homelessness.
Last year we had almost 900 women ask for our help. They know that Catherine House is a South Australian service for women.
What we know is that women often do not seek out homelessness services until they have exhausted every other avenue, staying with friends, family, sleeping in back rooms or sheds. They often only get to us when they are at their lowest point, desperate, alone, scared, exhausted, unwell and all out of options. This is exactly why we need homelessness services that are uniquely designed to respond to the needs of women. These services need to be trauma informed and recovery focussed. Women need support and a safe place where they can rest, recover and heal, and receive the support they need to put their lives back together.
For the women who are fortunate enough to get a place at Catherine House, 95% of them end their homelessness and are in stable accommodation at the time they exit our support services. This by any measure must be the right measure of whether an intervention has been a success.
The single biggest factor feeding a growth in homelessness is poverty, and the single biggest factor keeping people homeless is a lack of affordable housing to move people back into. For women domestic and family violence, job and economic insecurity is feeding rates of female homelessness like never before.
UPDATE: 1 July 2021
As you may know, as a result of changes in the way homelessness services will be delivered in South Australia from July 1, Catherine House has lost a major source of program funding and we have been working through this challenge in recent weeks.
We recognise our clients, supporters and donors will be wondering how we are tracking as our emergency program funding contract with the SA Government ended on 30th June 2021.
We would like to acknowledge the community support and encouragement we have received throughout this time – it has been generous, uplifting and at times simply overwhelming. This has been recognised by the women who utilise our services and by the staff impacted on by the loss of funding. Thank you to everyone who has reached out in support in recent weeks.
Our staff, volunteers and supporters are also demonstrating greater strength and commitment than ever before.
While we don’t yet have a settled plan for our next 12 months and beyond, we can assure clients and supporters that our services have not closed, and we would like to acknowledge the support of the SA Housing Authority and the Toward Home Alliance for facilitating a three month service funding extension. We are now using this time, to work on a new long term and sustainable plan for Catherine House.
What we know for certain is – donations and fundraising will continue to be vitally important to the service we provide to women experiencing homelessness in South Australia. With this incredible platform of support, Catherine House can continue to provide specialist services to women experiencing homelessness women in South Australia – as we have done over the past thirty three years.
We will not divert from this mission and will work harder than ever to support our clients in their time of need, but most importantly to continue to innovate our services. Women who need the support of Catherine House continue to be our immediate focus.
Catherine House will work collaboratively with all of the Alliances, and other agencies, to ensure that the needs of existing and future Catherine House Clients are met, as the new model of homelessness services delivery is established.
Ultimately, the long-term solution to homelessness is safe and secure accommodation, where women in crisis can both rebuild their lives and receive the support they need to do so. At Catherine House we will continue to work with the South Australian community and government on our mission to provide positive long-lasting outcomes for the growing number of women in our community who seek out safety and support services.
Together, we are confident we can achieve the best outcomes for all women experiencing homelessness in South Australia.
UPDATE: 4 June 2021
By now, you may have heard the recent decision to change the way homelessness services are funded which means that Catherine House will lose $1.2 million dollars used to fund our Crisis Accommodation Service.
A service that has been available for 33 years, in fact – the only service for women experiencing homelessness in South Australia. A service for women, run by women.
As a supporter of Catherine House you know that many clients have experienced domestic and family violence, mental health challenges and housing instability which has resulted in their homelessness. Women over 55 remain the fastest growing cohort of all people experiencing homelessness across Australia. Yet sadly, women continue to be the “hidden homeless”.
It’s no secret that domestic violence and mental health issues have rocked our community recently with tragic events in South Australia. These women need us now more than ever.
Catherine House provides more than a bed and a warm meal for every woman who so bravely walks through our doors. We focus is on providing her with support, hope, opportunity and importantly – safe and secure housing to end her homelessness for good.
As I write this, we are currently working hard to find a solution to ensure our vital service can continue past June 30. We are doing everything we can to ensure women experiencing homelessness are supported in South Australia, but we need your help.
We really do need your support more than ever.
Can you help by making a donation by 30 June?
It costs $144.00 a night to provide safe and secure accommodation at Catherine House. This also includes all meals, professional case management support and the opportunity to access a range of services including education and employment. It is also the start of ending their homelessness.
No matter the amount, it all adds up and means we are one step closer to ensuring our vital service can continue. Ensuring the hundreds of women who need our support each year, will not be left out in the cold.
If you can help, please know how grateful we are for joining us in this urgent call out for support.
Catherine House Inc
PS: If you have made a donation recently, we sincerely thank you for your support. It’s one step closer to keeping our doors open.
UPDATE: 6 May 2021
An open letter from Catherine House to our supporters
We are deeply grateful to the hundreds of South Australians who have reached out to us this week to ask ‘what can they do to help?’ and the many South Australians who have spoken out publicly in support of the work we do.
Catherine House is and remains the only service specifically to support women in crisis and experiencing or facing homelessness. We hope that our contribution to ending homelessness, which has been developed over three decades with our clients, staff, partners, donors and government can be sustained within the new homelessness system announced last week.
We offer a women’s only service, something that is absolutely critical to those we support, many of whom come from backgrounds of abuse and violence. We support all women, from all over the state, not just in the Adelaide and Southern region. Catherine House keeps women safe and off the streets, not rough sleeping or couch surfing, and out of the health and justice systems. We are not a day centre or a drop in centre – we are first and foremost a supportive housing service.
While the State Government has chosen to pursue a different model of delivery, with a different management strategy in the form of the new Alliances, we absolutely believe the broader role of Catherine House remains vital to women experiencing homelessness, particularly those who are not supported through the Domestic Violence system. There has been a long-standing distinction between women’s safety services and women’s homelessness services in South Australia, and we hope the importance of this is not lost in the reshaping of the homelessness sector.
With regard to the impact on the Catherine House crisis accommodation service and its clients as a result of the loss of the $1.2m of State Government funding to support this service, which is successful in ending homelessness for our clients, we are actively talking with Government and the incoming Alliance consortia to understand the impact of the new model on our service, and exactly what this will mean for the women who rely on us.
Catherine House currently does not have a place in this new service delivery model.
We are strongly advocating for one.
These are difficult and uncertain times for us all, but we are uplifted and inspired by the commitment of our staff and the outpouring of community support for the work that we do.
It is this support that inspires our Catherine House team to keep our heads held high and our services running, as we urgently seek out a pathway for our service into the future.
We deeply appreciate you walking alongside us, the way we walk beside the women we support. We will provide updates, as we know any more.
General Manager – Catherine House
HOMELESSNESS REFORM FUNDING REDIRECTION: 30 April 2021
RESPONSE TO STATE GOVERNMENT ANNOUNCEMENT – LOSS OF CRISIS FUNDING FOR WOMEN
For over 30 years Catherine House has provided crisis accommodation and longer-term support services for women experiencing homelessness in South Australia. It is the only specialist homelessness and recovery service for women in the State.
Catherine House was extremely disappointed to be advised of the State Government’s decision, through the Alliance tender process, to cease its National Housing and Homelessness Agreement (NHHA) funding arrangement. Catherine House has been an integral part of the Adelaide CBD for more than 3 decades.
Catherine House is urgently seeking further information regarding the Government’s decision to award the funding to another consortium and calls on Government to ensure that there are alternative accommodation and support services in place for women to transition into when funding for the Catherine House program ceases.
Manager of Client Services, Deirdre Flynn said “the decision announced by Minister Lensink will have a very significant impact on our capacity to deliver our services. It effectively erases a third ($1.2m) of our current operating budget.
“If ever there was a time for our organisation to live up to our values and demonstrate the resilience, compassion and tenacity that has always been our hallmark – characteristics we see every day in the women we support – that time is now.
“Our clients have already suffered significantly in their lives and we exist to support them. Their best interests are and will remain at the heart of everything we do.”
Women now represent 44% of all people experiencing homelessness and women over the age of 55 are the fastest growing homelessness cohort. NHHA part funds the Catherine House Crisis Accommodation Program that supports hundreds of women each year at risk of or experiencing homelessness across South Australia. These women often present with histories of domestic and family violence, mental health issues and poverty, as well as facing a critical lack of safe and affordable housing.
Catherine House can accommodate up to 59 women at any time and further supports hundreds of women through its Women’s Centre and outreach services.
Recently, Catherine House joined with leading national community housing provider, Housing Choices South Australia to do more together for South Australian women in need of long term, safe and secure housing. General Manager of Housing Choices South Australia, Julie Duncan said “Catherine House is one of the most highly regarded providers of specialist services for women experiencing homelessness in Australia. We will stand by the women who rely on this support every step of the way, as we work through this significant change to the provision of homelessness services in South Australia.”
CONTACT: JAYLEE COOPER 0403 322 703
CATHERINE HOUSE / HOUSING CHOICES AUSTRALIA MERGE: 10 November 2020
CATHERINE HOUSE/HOUSING CHOICES MERGER
The merger of two organisations that support South Australian women, who are at risk of or experiencing homelessness, to access safe, affordable housing and recovery services will provide greater capacity to help a growing number of people in need.
Housing Choices South Australia (Housing Choices) and Catherine House can do more for women by working as one organisation than they can separately.
Announcing an intention to merge today, Julie Duncan, General Manager Housing Choices, and Linda Matthews, CEO Catherine House, agree this will build on the partnership that has developed between the two organisations over the last decade.
“Improving access to permanent housing will help alleviate the stress some of our clients face when they need to move because they are living in crisis accommodation. This will give women more time to focus on their recovery and prepare for their future,” Linda Matthews says.
“By working together, we will be better able to help the growing number of women, particularly older women experiencing homelessness, to access safe, quality, affordable long-term housing.”
Both organisations share a proud history of providing housing and support services.
Catherine House has been providing crisis accommodation and support services for women in SA since 1988.
Housing Choices is a national not-for-profit housing organisation with nearly 7,000 social and affordable homes for 8,500 residents across Victoria, Tasmania, South Australia, New South Wales, and Western Australia.
Julie Duncan says, “Housing Choices also run the internationally recognised Common Ground program, an intensive homelessness support response helping people to secure housing, sustain a tenancy, and improve their health and well-being”.
“With our experience in providing longer-term and permanent supportive housing and the specialist expertise at Catherine House in trauma and recovery practices, our goal is a more holistic support and recovery service for women exiting homelessness.”
“We will work to provide women a pathway into stable housing, while continuing to access Catherine House’s recovery-based support services.”
Both organisations will retain their names, with Housing Choices to take on the management of Catherine House from the start of 2021, subject to relevant consents being obtained.
For now, it will be ‘business as usual’ as Catherine House will continue to provide recovery-based services for women experiencing homelessness.
Bringing the two organisations together will deliver a stronger specialist homelessness response and greater potential to secure long term, secure and affordable housing outcomes.
Catherine House and Housing Choices look forward to working together to ensure we continue to deliver effective services to South Australian women experiencing homelessness in the future.