Aspire Case Navigator: ‘I feel like we’re part of something big.’

A car with the Hutt St Centre logo.

For the past five years, Tim Best, an Aspire Program Case Navigator at Adelaide’s Hutt Street Centre, has been helping people experiencing homelessness.

Best joined the Aspire Program when the Aspire SIB launched last year, and says it’s the first opportunity he’s had to take a long-term approach with people who have a history of sleeping rough.

The Aspire Program is set up to allow navigators to support people over a three-year period. This sustained support includes the provision of stable accommodation, job readiness training, pathways to employment and life skills development. Navigators are there to help participants identify and achieve their aspirations, and help steer them through the wider support service system.

“The three-year model is excellent insofar as getting those long-term outcomes. From my perspective, that’s what is really unique and special about the program.”

“It changes the way we work with participants. In some of my past case manager roles, you’re very time poor due to the high number of people accessing your services and resources”.

“Generally, you’re working with people over a much shorter time frame and there’s no guarantee of housing outcomes. You’ll fill out some housing applications, make sure they’re registered for public housing, try and get them into a boarding house, and then you tend to have to move on to other clients.”

Tim is pictured with a Aspire program particpant outside their new home.
Pictured: Tim with an Aspire program participant.

As a navigator for the Aspire Program, Best currently works with around 13 participants, helping them find accommodation, while also addressing the myriad of circumstances which might have contributed to them sleeping rough.

“We look at what we’re doing with Aspire participants as a long game,” Best says.

“We put a real emphasis during the first three months on building rapport with the person. That allows people to feel much more comfortable discussing all aspects of their life which is particularly important where there is trauma. You’re not going to get that out of people in one or two meetings.”

The Aspire Program is based on the ‘housing first’ intervention model, facilitated through relationships with local housing providers.

“We can’t really start addressing all of the life domains of a person until they’re housed,” Best says.

“A comment I’m hearing a lot from clients I’m working with is that it takes a long time to feel worthy in the house they get. They need some time to process it. They get a housing offer and if they’ve been sleeping rough or in emergency shelters for a number of years, that concept of getting their own property is quite overwhelming.”

Best says the Aspire Program’s long-term model of support allows that readjustment period to take place, and makes it possible to start addressing employment, education, and health outcomes when a client is ready.

“On the ground, some of the outcomes are fantastic. When you see someone get into a house, they start to feel better about themselves. Their self-esteem improves, then all of a sudden the world starts looking completely different for them. They can start to see a future instead of having no hope.”

“Being a part of a social impact bond, and knowing that we have the support of Social Ventures Australia and government, I feel like we’re part of something big.”