Wongee Mia: an innovative family-centred approach to addressing Aboriginal housing needs and preventing eviction in Australia
Aboriginal Australians are disproportionately affected by homelessness, with traditional housing models failing to recognise the importance of kinship obligations and ongoing systemic racism. The Wongee Mia project is a pilot initiative emerging out of a Housing First project tackling homelessness among Perth’s most vulnerable rough sleepers. The project takes a different approach to working with and providing long-term housing to Aboriginal families in Perth, Western Australia.
he Wongee Mia project is centred around one person “Robby” and his family to prevent eviction. Data are collected from monthly action research meetings, yarning sessions with family Elders, and case notes.
The project identified 32 family members who had potential to place “Robby’s” tenancy at risk. As at December 2019, 29 members of Robby’s family have been supported by the Wongee Mia case workers, and five have been housed. Key elements of Wongee Mia are the broader links to end homelessness initiatives (the Housing First program), the cultural backgrounds of the case workers and their ability to connect in a meaningful way with the family, Elder involvement (including the co-production of this paper), and an underlying action research model enabling program delivery improvements.
The Wongee Mia project offers an innovative way of working with families to prevent unnecessary eviction by working through the whole family’s needs rather than those of an individual in relation to housing.