Frequently Asked Questions

What is the cultural definition of homelessness?

“The basic idea underpinning the cultural definition is that there are shared community standards about the minimum accommodation that people can expect to achieve in contemporary society (Chamberlain & MacKenzie, 1992)”. The minimum accommodation for a single person or couple is a small rental flat with a bedroom, living room, kitchen and bathroom and an element of security of tenure provided by a lease. People living below the ‘cultural standard’ are considered homeless.

1. Primary Homelessness (sleeping rough):

People without conventional accommodation, such as:

  • Living on the streets
  • Living in parks
  • Squatting in derelict buildings
  • Using cars and railway carriages for temporary shelter
  • Living in improvised dwellings.

2. Secondary Homelessness:

People who move frequently from one form of temporary shelter to another. This covers people using various types of emergency accommodation, such as:

  • Hostels and night shelters
  • Young people staying in youth refuges
  • Women and children escaping family violence (staying at women’s refuges)
  • People couch surfing, or residing temporarily in other households (because they have no accommodation of their own)
  • Those using boarding houses and rooming houses on an occasional or intermittent basis

3. Tertiary Homelessness:

  • People who live in single rooms who share bathroom and kitchen facilities with others and who do not have the security of tenure provided by a lease
  • People in single rooms in private boarding houses and rooming houses (registered and unregistered)
  • Pension-level supported residential services on a medium to long-term basis

What is Family Violence?

Experiencing Family Violence is the single most common reason women and children seek the support of the Homelessness Service System.

The peak body for Family Violence in Victoria, Domestic Violence Victoria (DV VIC) define Family Violence as:

"Family Violence is the repeated use of violent, threatening, coercive or controlling behaviour by an individual against a family member(s), or someone with whom they have, or have had an intimate relationship including carers.

Violent behaviour includes not only physical assaults but an array of power and control tactics used along a continuum in concert with one another, including direct or indirect threats, sexual assault, emotional and psychological torment, economic control, property damage, social isolation and behaviour which causes a person to live in fear.

Currently only certain behaviours and actions defined as family violence are criminal offences, any behaviour that constitutes family violence is unacceptable.

Family violence can occur within any intimate relationship, including same sex relationships. It affects trans gender people, the elderly and people with disabilities. While it can be perpetuated by any member of a family against another, it is more likely to be perpetrated by men (predominately by a woman’s current or ex-partner) against women and children.

Because family violence can occur in any culture, it is important that the definition of family violence recognises and reflects the perspectives and realities of all communities within Victoria, including Indigenous communities. The Victorian Indigenous Family Violence Taskforce has defined family violence as:

An issue focused around a wide range of physical, emotional, sexual, social, spiritual, cultural, psychological and economic abuses that occur within families, intimate relationships, extended families, kinship networks and communities. It extends to one on one fighting, abuse of Indigenous community workers, as well as self harm, injury and suicide."

For more information on DV VIC please visit the Peak Bodies page of this website by clicking here

What is Opening Doors?

Opening Doors is a framework of principles and practices that is intended to guide and improve client assessment, referral, resource allocation and coordination across the Victorian homelessness service system.

Its broad objective is to produce more timely, coordinated and effective access to the service system for clients who are homeless or at risk of homelessness and to provide a more coordinated, client centred response from the homelessness service system.

The Opening Doors Framework incorporates the following features:

• A consumer focussed and strengths based approach
• Equity of access to the resources of the homelessness service system
• Support for skilled workers with training, supervision and efficient tools
• Collaboration and partnerships between agencies and the DHS
• Reasonable care to address the risks faced by each person who is homeless
• Maximising the use of available homelessness resources.

In the Opening Doors model, this system is streamlined and simplified enabling access to a broader range of resources to clients and greater transparency and equity of access to those resources.

Opening Doors brings together homelessness providers, through the establishment of LASNs, to develop a shared approach to assessment and referral processes, resource allocation and service system planning within their own catchments. Through LASNs homelessness service providers are able to define and provide a coordinated homelessness service system response.

The Framework articulates the need for fewer, clearly identifiable access/entry points to the service system and for the development of a service system response that can ‘hold’ the client and assist the client to navigate the service system.

These clearly identifiable Access Points are responsible for providing indivduals/households who are homeless or at risk of homelessness with timely information at their first point of contact. This includes honest and transparent information about the types of resources available, processes for accessing them and the likelihood of being able to access various resources.

There are 5 Access Point Services in the NW region. For more information and contact details on the NW Access Points please click here