Moorditj Mia (Strong Home) – Australia’s first Aboriginal Housing First Support Service, offers culturally-secure homelessness outreach services to Aboriginal people.
It’s led by Noongar Mia Mia, in partnership with Wungening Aboriginal Corporation and supported by the Department of Communities.
Using systems of community, family and kinship, lore and relational systems to facilitate more effective service delivery it provides an alternative to the mainstream supports for Aboriginal people.
Perth faces an urgent Aboriginal homelessness crisis. Despite comprising 1.6 per cent of Perth Metro’s population, an estimated 42 per cent of the city’s rough sleepers are Aboriginal.
Moorditj Mia uses an evidence‑based cultural approach with the deep insight developed over a cumulative five decades of experience between Noongar Mia Mia and Wungening within the Aboriginal community on Noongar boodja (country). The program is underpinned by the Noongar Cultural Framework and Noongar Housing First Principles.
With that expertise behind it the service connects rough sleepers with local services aware of cultural and personal needs. It also assists in the search for suitable accommodation.
The Moorditj Mia team takes a ‘one team, one dream’ approach; regardless of which partner (Noongar Mia Mia or Wungening) a caseworker is employed by. Casework aligns with Aboriginal preferences for a community of collective care; caseworkers always go out in groups of two to three people, with a key caseworker and one or two rotating caseworkers. This means any client should know any caseworker, and any caseworker should know any client. This mitigates turnover fatigue; already-exhausted vulnerable people do not have to repeat their story and find themselves starting again from the beginning (often the case in conventional interventions).
The way that caseworkers yarn is underpinned by cultural sensitivity, values and protocol. The shared Aboriginality of the casework team and the clients opens doors, but cultural sensitivity and protocols must still be followed, and casework must be delivered based on shared Aboriginal constructs and values – walking together in the same world. In particular, working from a shared understanding of the importance of moort (family and kin), boodja and kaartdijin (cultural knowledge), how these interconnect and where clients are placed within these networks.
Use of Housing First
The service is being delivered consistently with Housing First, and finding housing is the highest priority element of the caseworker; however, housing remains scarce in the midst of WA’s rental crisis.
Moorditj Mia thinks outside-the-box to find housing, working with organisations such as Department of Communities, Anglicare, Communicare, Indigo Junction, Boorloo Midee Mia and private market affordable housing provider Urban Fabric to find safe, secure housing for clients. This involves not making promises that you cannot keep, in alignment with the Kwop Daa (‘good talk’ that is open and honest) element of the Noongar Housing First Principles.
As a result, positive word-of-mouth has spread quickly about the service, paving the way to build relationships of trust from initial contact. The team has demonstrated ongoing commitments: that they will never give up on finding clients a home. They are known for finding other ways to be of genuine help and support, and that they are part of a strong Noongar and Aboriginal community that sees them and evaluates them.
National Reconciliation Week
National Reconciliation Week 2022 theme, “Be Brave. Make Change.” is a challenge to all Australians – individuals, families, communities, organisations and government – to Be Brave and tackle the unfinished business of reconciliation so we can Make Change for the benefit of all Australians. For more information click here.