Those people who are, or have experienced, homelessness are the experts in that experience. The Northern and Western Homelessness Networks are committed to seeking feedback from consumers about their experiences of homelessness and the homelessness service system and to using this feedback to inform advocacy and improvements to the homelessness service system.
One tool for this is an annual consumer survey, run by the Networks. The information gathered in the annual consumer participation surveys inform, guide and develop the future directions of the Northern and Western Homelessness Networks, so they can continue to provide relevant services and responses.
Important quantitative and qualitative data is collected through service user participation in the annual surveys, The responses from the surveys form the evidence base for the provision of better services in the homelessness sector.
The Networks share a Consumer Participation Working Group that organises the annual survey and provides advice to the Sector on other consumer participation opportunities. Consumer participant members of the working group have an invaluable role in guiding this work.
Over 1,500 people have taken part in the nine consumer surveys and many changes have been made as a result.
The most significant actions arising from consumer feedback have been the advocacy actions taken in response to consumer feedback:
• The release of the “Crisis in Crisis: the appalling state of emergency accommodation in Melbourne’s north and west” report
• The 'More Houses for People' and ‘Ëvery Victorian Should Have a Home” advocacy campaigns, which have seen hundreds of signed postcards from people with lived experience of homelessness, and other members of the community, sent to the Prime Minister of Australia and the Premier of Victoria.
You can read consumer feedback from the Annual Consumer Surveys on the Consumer Survey Results page.
The 2023 Annual Consumer Survey explores consumers’ ideas for how we can improve our responses, particularly when there is so little housing available. We also ask consumers what they would like us to advocate to the Prime Minister for.
The survey will run from 4th December 2023 to 3rd March 2024. The survey can be completed on paper or online (phone or computer).
The Consumer Participation Working Group is running three half hour information sessions for practitioners during the survey period. The final session is:
Below are copies of the survey, survey poster, consent form and guide for practitioners.
One of the major achievements of the Northern and Western LASNs' Consumer Feedback Group was the creation of a Client Participation Guide for Specialist Homelessness Services. 'Cared For Enough To Be Involved' was informed by each of the preceding activities of the Consumer Feedback Group.
The purpose of the Client Participation Guide is to document and share good client participation practices that are currently in place across the region, and to assist homelessness services to achieve such practices, taking into account relevant practice settings and service standards.
The Value of Client Participation in Homelessness Services contains a list of practice principles for the effective involvement of clients in Homelessness service delivery.
The Northern and Western LASNs' Consumer Participation Working Group (CPWG) is a working party of the Northern and Western Metropolitan Homelessness Local Area Service Networks, and is comprised two consumer representatives and representatives from a number of homelessness services and the Children's Resource Coordination Program.
The CPWG was established to:
The CPWG meets about five times a year to plan the annual consumer survey, analyse the survey responses, host a consumer forum to make recommendations to the LASNs about possible responses to the survey and to feedback the outcomes of the survey to consumers.