Wadamba Wilam wins Victorian Homelessness Achievement Award
Holistic service addressing Aboriginal homelessness and wellbeing wins award

Pictured (l-r): Glen Tobias (Victorian State Manager, Neami National), Jamie Waring (Wadamba Wilam Manager, Neami National), and Adam Burns (Wadamba Wilam Psychiatric Nurse, Northern Area Mental Health Service

A holistic program aimed at tackling homelessness and improving Social and Emotional Wellbeing (SEWB) within Melbourne’s Aboriginal population has won a Victorian Homelessness Achievement Award.

Wadamba Wilam (Renew Shelter), run by Neami National in partnership with Northern Area Mental Health Services, Uniting Care ReGen, and the Victorian Aboriginal Health Service, provides integrated support to Aboriginal people in the cities of Darebin and Whittlesea.

Service Manager Jamie Waring said Wadamba Wilam responds to a person’s homelessness through a culturally-informed Social and Emotional Wellbeing approach. This means that the physical, mental, social, spiritual and cultural welfare of each person is considered together rather than in isolation.

Mr Waring said Aboriginal Victorians are overrepresented in the homelessness population and when looking at causes one must begin with the impact of colonisation and the subsequent dispossession and displacement that followed.  

'This loss of connection to country has resulted in spiritual homelessness and ongoing intergenerational trauma, as experienced by the stolen generation. This further contributes to the decline in wellbeing of Aboriginal people. Being aware of the social, cultural, political and historical determinants  informs our understanding of the impact on wellbeing, including homelessness.

‘Wadamba Wilam has an emphasis on housing support and we always start with taking the time to build trust and confidence. We work intensively with people aimed around the support they need, whether it’s for a chronic health condition, cultural reconnection, support around mental illness or substance use. It provides an effective and culturally safe service to help restore wellbeing while facilitating safe, secure and affordable housing.'

The Victorian Homelessness Achievement Awards, run by the Council to Homeless Persons (CHP), were presented in September at the Melbourne Town Hall. The annual awards celebrate the exceptional efforts of workers and organisations within the specialist homelessness service system. Wadamba Wilam won the Excellence in Ending Homelessness for Adults category.

Jamie said the award was humbling for the Wadamba Wilam team, which had achieved some great outcomes since it began operating in September 2013. He said the partnership with the Victorian Aboriginal Health Service, Regen and Northern Area Mental Health Services was the key element in achieving positive outcomes for people through the service.

Wadamba Wilam is supported by the Victorian Government Department of Health through the National Partnership Agreement. People can be referred to the service through individuals, carers, families, mental health professionals or other health care providers.

​For more information about Wadamba Wilam, visit bit.ly/1LCSNk5.

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