ABC AM | 4 August 2014
Platform 70 is celebrating a small but significant milestone. It has helped more than 100 people escape the helplessness of being homeless. The program has an 85% success rate, putting it on a par with some of the best in the world. Once someone is placed in accommodation, often subsidised private rentals, support wraparound services can then be more easily delivered, increasing the chances of sustained success. Participation in TAFE – and music – is part of Tony’s story.
MICHAEL BRISSENDEN: Homelessness is an enduring problem but this morning there’s some good news.
A program helping people living rough to get into their own accommodation is celebrating a small but important milestone.
In the space of three years, Platform 70 has managed to get 100 people in inner Sydney into sustained housing tenancies.
And it says with more funding it believes it could ease the strain on government services even more.
Simon Santow reports for AM.
(Sound of guitar playing)
TONY TUHURO: A? A? No sorry…
SIMON SANTOW: Even in the depths of despair, Tony Tuhuro turned to music to make life on the streets more bearable.
TONY TUHURO: Might be better if I just sing to you, my brother.
SIMON SANTOW: Singing, he says, is good for the soul and the heart.
TONY TUHURO: (singing) Lean on my friends, we’re all misunderstood, they say we stand for nothing else, there’s no way we ever could. I see everything…
SIMON SANTOW: Tony Tuhoro says music is still saving him, long after escaping the streets and having a place with a roof to call home.
TONY TUHURO: I’ve gone back to TAFE, I’m studying music and I’m doing cert (certificate) 3. I just passed cert 2 and I’m hopefully going to go through to do diploma.
I’ve gone back to TAFE, I’m studying music and I’m doing cert (certificate) 3. I just passed cert 2 and I’m hopefully going to go through to do diploma.
SIMON SANTOW: He’s one of more than 100 success stories in a program which is funded by State and Federal Governments under the National Partnership Agreement on Homelessness.
John Nicolades is the CEO of Bridge Housing.
JOHN NICOLADES: We want to try and get people back to their life and as the musicians would say, back into the world, to move them from where they are – living on the street – to place them in some permanent accommodation and to allow them to deal with whatever is bedevilling them.
Many of the 105 people that we’ve housed have got mental health problems, depression, acute physical health problems. This is a way of stabilising them.
We’re using a philosophy of a housing first program – that is, we want to get people into some affordable permanent secure accommodation and then working with Neami National, who provide the support services to help them get their life in order.
SIMON SANTOW: The program succeeds by harnessing the private rental market.
JOHN NICOLADES: Bridge Housing houses around 2,700 families and people in around 1,600 properties. And we operate from the city of Sydney out to the city of Parramatta.
And we are very focussed on working areas which… where we have the least affordable housing in Sydney.
TONY TUHURO: There’s a part of me that feels guilty because I’m in downtown Rose Bay and if you look out my bathroom window, I’m looking at Sydney Harbour, which is pretty damn good. So to me it’s a start, it’s a beginning. The rest is up to me, the onus is on me to group up as a man and move forward.
SIMON SANTOW: The newly housed pay 25 per cent of their income in rent, the rest is subsidised by the program.
Tony Tuhoro says slowly but surely, it’s helping him beat all of his addictions and weaknesses.
TONY TUHURO: It’s the beginning of changing who I was into who I want to be. The streets were a horrible feeling but it was no-one else’s fault but me. On and off I’ve had jobs in the mines, I’ve worked in the Army, as a foreman. I’ve done a lot of great things and I still went back to the streets.
They found places that are really, really decent and they gave me the faith to say “Look, you might fall over but we want you to get stronger and to move forward and try an grow up a bit and just try and be part of society, just be normal”.
So here I am.