Wadamba Wilam Practice Approach Report
A best practice example to inform the design, implementation and funding of other services that seek to support this community.
What is Wadamba Wilam?
Wadamba Wilam (Renew Shelter) has provided intensive outreach support to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who are experiencing homelessness and enduring mental illness since 2012.
People who have used the Wadamba Wilam service have presented with very high rates of homelessness and rough sleeping, very high rates of substance use, poor physical health, high rates of contact with the justice system and a significant proportion of consumers have experienced psychotic illness. This group has been chronically left behind by systems and services that have not reached them effectively or provided culturally safe support to improve social and emotional wellbeing.
I highly recommend this report to practitioners, researchers and those involved in policy related to Aboriginal mental health and social and emotional wellbeing services.
Wadamba Wilam has developed a practice approach that has delivered positive outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people experiencing mental illness, poor emotional and social wellbeing and a history of homelessness.
The approach integrates trauma-informed practice with Aboriginal mental health and social and emotional wellbeing principles and provides a coherent theory of change based upon Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal practitioners’ experiences of supporting community members.
Wadamba Wilam’s approach builds on the National Strategic Framework for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People’s Mental Health and Social and Emotional Wellbeing 2017–2023. In doing so, Wadamba Wilam has created a service that seeks to meet the holistic needs of consumers, nestled in their community.
Once a therapeutic opportunity arises, we can offer it straight away. The specialty skill is already in the team and also more importantly, the organisational framework is in place.
What has been achieved?
For many people Wadamba Wilam has been the turning point from which their lives have begun to transform. Many people who have used Wadamba Wilam’s service experienced vastly improved physical and mental health, enjoy stable accommodation and have an overall increase in their social and emotional wellbeing.
Significantly, for consumers of the service between July 2016–June 2020, some of the outcomes achieved include:
- 81% of consumers are housed in sustainable tenancies. 69% of consumers have sustained these tenancies for over 12 months.
- 61% decrease in the number of inpatient psychiatric admissions post-referral. The average yearly psychiatric admissions reduced from 1.5 per year per person, to 0.1 per year per person.
- 67% of consumers have experienced an increase in their meaningful activity, shifting from 73% of consumers engaging in survival activities only at service entry.
- 72% of consumers have reduced both their use of alcohol and ice. 67% of consumers have reduced their use of opioids
Wadamba Wilam was the first non-Aboriginal organisation I encountered... where the staff understood these fundamental needs to put relationships and cultural safety front and centre of their practice.