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Hutt St Centre’s Aspire program helps our homeless stay out of hospital and prison

8 December 2021    


A seven-year program supporting people out of homelessness through intensive, long-term case management is demonstrating that sustained support can significantly reduce participants’ use of government funded services such as hospitals, emergency accommodation and the justice system.

The Aspire Program is focused on supporting people experiencing persistent homelessness into housing, and provides three years of individualised case management support. Delivered by Hutt St Centre in partnership with Social Ventures Australia and the South Australian Government, the Aspire Program is funded through a Social Impact Bond (SIB) and represents a landmark change in the way homelessness services are provided for complex clients in the state.

Over the first four years of the SIB (to 30 June 2021), the 575 people enrolled in the Aspire program have collectively avoided an estimated 1,650 hospital bed days, 430 criminal convictions and 730 periods of emergency accommodation, measured relative to past service usage levels. These 'avoided services' equate to Government savings of almost $9 million. It is expected that people who have completed the Aspire Program will continue to experience lower levels of service use in future, generating further savings of over $4m in years to come.

Throughout Aspire, 360 participants have been assisted to find housing, and, with the support of the program, most have been able to rebuild their lives in their new homes. In addition, 160 Aspire participants secured a job, despite only four per cent having a consistent employment history on entering the program.

Hutt St Centre Chief Executive Chris Burns said through Aspire, the most vulnerable members of our community had received comprehensive health and wellbeing support, access to training and employment pathways, and opportunities for connection with their community.

“Aspire has been a pathway to homefulness for hundreds of people who faced significant challenges in their lives, including poor health, mental health issues and wellbeing challenges,” Mr Burns said.

“Through intensive support such as connecting them to wellbeing programs, helping them find meaningful housing, preparing resumes and finding employment opportunities, showing them a healthier pathway and connecting them to the community, we’ve been able to make a significant difference to those most at risk.”

The program is forecast to save the State Government more than $20m over the length of the program.

The case management provided through Aspire augments the core work of Hutt St Centre as one of the few providers of primary care services for people at risk of or experiencing homelessness in

South Australia. Those services address basic human needs and are fully-funded by donations and the generosity of the South Australian community.

Under the terms of the SIB, the Aspire program ceased accepting new clients in June. However, recognising the value of the program and wanting to retain Aspire’s existing capability while an independent evaluation of the program is completed, the State Government stepped in late last month and provided a further $852,000 in extension funding to enable Hutt St Centre to intake up to an additional 80 people experiencing persistent homelessness between now and June 2022.

“The State Government has recognised the human and economic value of the Aspire program and understands the difference this has made to the lives of close to 600 people. We are grateful for the extension funding and we know it will make a significant difference to the lives of many more people over the years to come,” Mr Burns said.

“We also appreciate the support of all sides of politics and their shared understanding that the Aspire program will lead to fewer demands on our health and hospital system, our correctional services, our emergency accommodation providers and our community as a whole.”

With less than four months until the South Australian election, Mr Burns said Hutt St Centre would support SACOSS and Shelter SA’s advocacy for more social housing.

“However, ending homelessness isn’t just about providing a roof over someone’s head, it’s as much about helping them on their journey to homefulness through the provision of comprehensive and intensive case management support and services,” Mr Burns said.

“We know social housing alone won’t solve homelessness, but through the Aspire model, we can provide a more stable and positive future for hundreds of people experiencing persistent homelessness. We hope this transcends politics as we move forward and that we will be able to secure a continuous funding commitment to an ongoing program for the greater good of our community.”


Aspire case study

John was referred to Aspire in March this year. John had a gambling problem and had become homeless, lost his business and was estranged from his wife and children. He felt so much shame and guilt that he considered taking his own life. When John joined Aspire, he was participating in an intensive gambling program that helped him gain more control of his life. He is also in remission from cancer and his physical and mental health have improved significantly. John now mentors other people in the gambling program, he has secured a home and has undertaken training in security operations. He has also reconnected with his children after having lost contact for several years.

To view the report, please click here