Report of the 6th National Conference

Blacktown Aboriginal Safety Promotion Program – Home Safe Home Project Stream

Page last updated: 07 July 2008

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Wendy Bryan-Clothier, Sydney West Are Health Service

“I would like to acknowledge the traditional owners of the land, the Irukandjii, and their Elders, past and present, and thank you all for staying for the last session of the day. I am presenting the Blacktown Aboriginal Safety Promotion Program – Home Safe Home project stream. I am representing all the partners in this project, which was unified with a specially designed logo that represented bringing community, government and non-government, Indigenous and non-Indigenous people together. We now have a logo that was designed by one of the youths at a community outreach and we have also taken ‘United We Win’ which is the title of a poem by Oodgeroo Noonuccal (Kath Walker). This was cited at the beginning of the Report that led to the project’s development.

Today we will have a quick look at the overview of the project, the background (particularly to all the realms this involves), the objectives of Home Safe Home, how we established the project, Stages 1 and 2 of the project, the challenges and lessons we have learned from that so far, our sustainability challenges, the budget we have worked with to date and for the next 12 months, and other outcomes from the project.


As you can see it is a busy flowchart.

The Blacktown Aboriginal Injury Surveillance and Prevention Project Report was commissioned by NSW Health, undertaken by the area health service and published in 2003. It pulled together data from police reports, health data etc, on injury statistics and involved the project worker interviewing people such as those whose families had experienced injuries, and safety was an issue and all the aspects that led to that issue. As the report was released, NSW Health also released the NSW Health Aboriginal Safety Promotion Strategy which was developed, with behind-the-scenes liaison, with the people who put together our report, but additionally with the support of people from Shoalhaven and the Mid North Coast who had done similar local reports.

Then we have the overlay of Two Ways Together, which is the NSW Aboriginal Affairs Strategy to invite all government agencies to work together to address Indigenous needs. Therefore the Department of Housing should be working with Department of Health, should be working with the Department of Planning should be working with the RTA – this would provide a system of cohesion that is bringing people together. We challenged all these people with the Two Ways Together mandate, the local information that we need and NSW Health really wanted someone to pilot a project. We brought everyone together, and provided a lot of evidence, and we basically said the onus is on each of your agencies to work together. You can like it or not, but we think this will be a really great program - come along. From that, we now have all that you can see above.

On average we have at least one meeting a week to develop all of those aspects of the project. The Blacktown Aboriginal Safety Promotion Program, multiple agencies working together and working with community. Annual NAIDOC activities for the program are also another way of us engaging with the community to inform and be informed about the project and its direction. As you can see, we have done a lot regarding community forums, and that’s just a small part of it.
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Additionally from the Safety Promotion Program we have the three safety Projects:
• KAYS Keeping Aboriginal Youth Safe is indirectly targeted at the incarceration rates, and looks at youth and family safety. They do this by linking with Council, the RTA, TAFE, and Births Deaths and Marriages. What they are doing is improving youth driver licencing through mentoring, and raising awareness of the debt reduction process which is a key barrier to gaining a licence. This is proving to be a very strong program, but unfortunately that is not what I am here to talk about today.
• Safety in the local environment (is also called ‘Ngarra’ which means ‘to listen’ in the Darug language, and we have permission to use that terminology by the Darug people) targets safety improvement in the general environment in pubs and clubs, to reduce the impact of unsafe drinking and driving activities. This is done by working with the Office of Liquor, Gaming and Racing, RTA and Council. It is also anticipated that as that program becomes stronger the phase with pubs and clubs will start to be able to function on its own with feedback and support from Liquor Gaming and Racing and community and RTA with less involvement. However, it will start to have a greater role in the development of the planning strategies and community redevelopment in the Blacktown local government area. Those consultations are still in the infancy stage.
• Thirdly, Home Safe Home – the one I am here to speak to you about today.

Home safe home Project

Background to the project

The Home Safe Home Project, operating under the Blacktown Aboriginal Safety Promotion Program, is working with partner agencies to seek to reduce the rate of injury in the home. We are aiming to look at issues in the physical environment which can be improved through intervention by housing providers and partner agencies. Our work involves audits of the infrastructure of the home, replacement of some safety products, education and awareness of residents’ safety issues, empowerment to report to the housing provider, support in establishing a response to need in those housing providers, educational activities across partnership agencies, involvement in evaluation procedures for the whole of the program, and the development of strategies to address family violence in the community.

The objectives are basically very broad, and have been developed in consultation with stakeholders to:
• Increase fire safety awareness.
• Highlight the importance of water safety
• Safer home structure and environment.
• Decrease the likelihood of falls around the home.
• Link to an appropriate Family Violence group.
• Establish an effective community support team regarding safety.
The key point to these is partnership will only get us there. We have to establish that community support team.
To establish the project we held a workshop and it:
• Identified three manageable areas of intense need (youth safety, environment safety, and home safety projects).
• Established working parties for the project streams.
• An additional workshop was held to engage more agencies regarding Home Safety, inviting them to partner the project.
• Additionally, some of the key players that stepped forward at the initial meetings offered to be key liaisons between the project, the AMS and the Land Council.
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Stage 1 - Partnership

This is where we had people with experience partnering the project, and were able to start moving the project forward. We developed a group of partner agencies to effectively support community. The issue is that in the Blacktown local government area there are about 7,000 members of the community who are Indigenous, and it is also estimated that the Department of Housing has about 10,000 homes. The Aboriginal Housing Office has about 300 homes, the Land Council has about 45 homes and Community Housing is known to have Aboriginal tenants, but they don’t know how many. The Department of Housing also cannot accurately report the number of Indigenous tenants, because their current data system does not allow that. So we are working slowly.

Key partners include:

• Kidsafe house.
• Aboriginal Housing Advisory Committee.
• Aboriginal Elders and Community.
• NSW Health.
• Wiringa Baiya Aboriginal Women’s Legal Centre.
• Department of Housing.
• NSW Fire Brigades.
• Gilgai Aboriginal Centre.
• Miimali Aboriginal Community Association.
• Blacktown City Council.

We have contact with community associations, government bodies, and a complex network whereby we interact with the Elders, either by letter or separate meetings.

Physical environment

• The Housing for Health system was seen by Blacktown community representatives as not suitable for them – I am advised it has been removed from the CEO’s KPI for the Area Health Service.
• We developed a Home Safe Home Subcommittee to develop a safety audit tool.
• As community does not want attention drawn to them we had to make sure the audit tool was suitable for Community Support Agency representatives to run on their own.
• That person audits the infrastructure to report ‘only on things that need repair’ to the housing provider. However, in the audit tool all the things introduced to the box by the resident are also assessed, eg, extension leads to see if they are safe, and upskill and talk up these issues in the home. For example, people have trip hazards because they have misused a cord, replacing faulty double adapters with flat ones, check on plumbing, small torch for nighttime emergencies to reduce falls in homes, screwdrivers to facilitate small repairs to things like hinges, small selection of child safety locks for the householder as packed in the shop so later they know what they are looking for and will be able to choose the system appropriate for them, energy- efficient light bulbs that don’t add to power loads in the home. Audit reps also carry power point testers and thermometers to test faulty hot water systems (to be at 50 degrees).
• Safety Audit
– Tool developed by working party.
– Trial with five families connected to agency support.
– Further tool development.
– Project established.
– Reporting to local Department of Housing Aboriginal Advisory Committee.
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Workforce training

One of the other issues that was identified by our community liaison people, the auditors, is that there are issues with ‘sharps’ in the homes. One of the key barriers to providing services in homes is OH&S restrictions, eg, needles on floors, so workers cannot go in. We developed a training program to minimise this, by developing training on Safe Sharps Collection and Disposal in partnership with the Needle Syringe Program and with Council’s Waste Education Officer. We have also engaged with Diabetes Australia, as not all sharps are for drug use - some of them are medically required. We are now developing an in-service training program for key partners so the whole team can be upskilled to know where to go to get rid of these products. Audit agency representatives are trained in Audit Tool Use and reporting, and there is future in-service training for partner agencies being scoped.

Annual Education Activities

• Ongoing efforts of recognition of community leaders and partners.
• Community Safety Expo due 14 June 2007 - a new project that arose from the Home Safe Home Project regarding fire safety activities, eg, fire escape plans and proper use of fire blankets. The community didn’t like the idea of uniformed persons in the house, so we are hosting an expo including all sorts of agencies such as the police, fire safety, mental health, RSPCA, Council, Department of Housing, TAFE (staff covering food safety, electrical, plumbing and home safety issues).
• NAIDOC Week Activities – To increase community awareness of:
– Home fire safety.
– Needles and syringes.
– Waste management.
– Safety across all ages.
– Driveway safety.
– Medicine and chemical safety.


• BASPP partner ‘The George Institute’, is undertaking evaluation of the whole project, which will also recognise our achievements and our challenges so when we go back to our line managers we can identify barriers and achievements.
• Involves
– Project group interviews.
– Individual member Interviews.
– Reviewing community feedback.
• Home Safe Home project evaluation is ongoing.
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Outcomes to Date

• Funding during 2006 to establish this pilot program.
• Partners conducted 16 audits during the 2006-2007 financial year.
• 16 home safety kits installed into homes.
– Replaced extension leads.
– Fixed light globes.
– Checked power points.
– Falls prevention.
• Two families moved to appropriate housing - one was moved because years ago she had a large number of children and took a rat-infested house on the proviso that another one would be provided as soon as possible. When our people went into the house it was still rat-infested, with kids sleeping on mattresses on the floor, with rats living inside the mattresses. We talked to the Department of Housing. The other house needs repair from damages from other persons who visit the home but the damages are not the only problem. The house has had a huge hole in the floor, right under where their fridge is located. This has been there for over three years, because the floor had rotted from a water leak.
• Improved linkages with Housing providers across the region.
• Moving towards an MOU with the Department of Housing to improve the reporting of audit outcomes and appropriate agency response re HSH Project
• In the last 12 months we have received $10,000 in 2007 from the Aboriginal EH Branch to continue activities for 50 more houses, and to run educational activities which has taken some pressure off us so we can focus on activities.
• Benefit of information not gathered as random anymore, but more comprehensive (a whole set of key questions) which means a more effective service Stage 2 - Interpersonal Safety
• This is a little more awkward. This is something that is not going to be handled by me as it is not my area, but it is something that is believed to be very much within the scope of HSH. A lot of things happen when you are at home. It was a very strong requirement from the crew, so today some of our friends from the group will be attending another meeting in the community on family violence with a key NGO, and are going to be discussing linkages and appropriate means for the group to move forward. We will wait and see on that one. We hope to have some strategies developed on this before the end of the year, so we can begin to make the appropriate linkages and bring these people to the table. When we run the next Safety Expo and maybe some other community activities, we will be able to bring these people forward as well.

Challenges/Lessons Learned

• Some of our challenges have been about developing partnerships, because they take time to develop.
• Each agency has their own restrictions on funding and activities, and how they prioritise their work.
• We definitely need culturally-appropriate strategies for Sydney, as they are vital to success.
• Require respect and preparedness for different ways of working.

Sustainability Challenges

• No dedicated Safety Program in all agencies to link to the project – they don’t connect that what’s happening in the home is connected to work (that’s where the OH&S issue keeps coming back).
• Big project – lots of time needed and faces member limitations.
• We have had some losses in Staff Movement.
– Rotation intra-agency and inter-agency.
– Benefits of these movements have been greater than the losses.
– While that has been saddening, most have left after briefing incoming staff and creating passion, and those who have left have taken their experiences into their new agencies and further developed support in new networks.
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• Actual expenses 2005-06 year <$1,500.
• Funds received 2006-07 year $10,000.
• Approximate in-kind 2006-07 year from partners $50,000 (eg, wages, resources, printing).

Other Outcomes

• Community support continues to grow.
• Support from various levels of Government.
• Support from non-Government organisations.
• Strong interagency partnerships.
• Our group aims to respond to needs of the community, rather than ‘this is what we have money for, what can we do with it’?
• ‘Can do’ attitude from all partners, and when they don’t, we can still link back to the Two Ways Together program”.

For further information
Wendy Bryan-Clothier
Locked mail bag 7118, Parramatta NSW 2150
Ph: 02 9840 3603 Email:

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