We’re bringing legal and non-legal services together to help people avoid or exit homelessness.
We know that nearly everyone who is homeless has problems that need legal help to solve. And we know that they need more than just a lawyer – they need coordinated support across different areas of their lives.
With Under One Roof, we’re working with frontline agencies, Launch Housing, Sacred Heart Mission and cohealth to give direct access to a lawyer, getting legal help to people who would otherwise remain locked out of the legal system.
By breaking down silos between the legal and non-legal community and working together, we provide people with the holistic support they need to truly break the cycle of homelessness, or avoid it altogether.
Under One Roof began in 2015, when Justice Connect co-located a lawyer at Launch Housing in St Kilda to deepen our connections with the housing, health and homelessness workers on site.
Since then, we’ve worked with social and health workers at Launch Housing, in the office, on outreach and remotely during COVID-19, using legal and non-legal practices to secure long-term outcomes for clients.
We’ve expanded our partnerships through Under One Roof to include Launch Housing, Sacred Heart Mission’s Journey to Social Inclusion & Greenlight programs, and cohealth Central City.
Under One Roof has been recognised by the Law Council of Australia’s 2018 Justice Report and the Victorian Government’s 2016 Access to Justice Review as a best-practice model for people who are homeless or on the brink of homelessness.
Over the last 12 months, Justice Connect has seen firsthand the impact of the coronavirus (COVID-19) public health pandemic on people experiencing or at risk of homelessness across Victoria. COVID-19 has created a new cohort of ‘future homeless’ and financially insecure, as well as compounding difficulties experienced by the most vulnerable in our community, particularly people sleeping rough.
Our Under One Roof project has been key to Justice Connect’s responsive, client-centred approach to COVID-19. Through our established community partnerships and innovative colocations, we were able to rapidly adapt to meet the needs of people experiencing or at risk of homelessness during the pandemic, providing an intensive combination of legal and social work assistance to Victorians with complex needs, who would have otherwise fallen through the cracks.
Throughout COVID-19, there has been significant demand for legal help through Under One Roof, with 189 new legal enquiries this year (June 2020–May 2021), a 29% increase from last year. We have improved our engagement with Victorians who have been sleeping rough in the last year, with 33% of people helped through Under One Roof connecting with us while in COVID-19 emergency hotels or crisis accommodation. We also created a suite of resources, including a COVID-19 advice line, factsheets for people sleeping rough & caseworkers, and trained over 50 frontline workers on the temporary COVID-19 tenancy laws, fines & charges (including COVID-19-specific fines), and housing debts.
This reflects the long-term strength of our embedded partnerships with Launch Housing, Sacred Heart Mission – Journey to Social Inclusion and Greenlight, and cohealth, which enabled us to provide homeless or at-risk Victorians with seamless, remote access to legal services when COVID-19 hit.
See how we responsively addressed the increasing legal needs of Victorians experiencing homelessness during COVID-19 and the ongoing recovery phase.
Read Connie's story
A neighbour had been regularly abusing Connie on the basis of her Aboriginality