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Executive summary: The Salvation Army is a major provider of Emergency Relief (ER) services in Australia. In 2013, the organisation provided ER to over 157,000 individuals and their families nationally.

Historically, ER services have provided crisis support and assistance for disadvantaged families and individuals through the provision of material aid (e.g. food, assistance paying bills, general household goods and clothing) and information, referral and advocacy.

In recent years, however, people have been presenting to ER with more complex needs and there has also been a rise in the number of people seeking aid. Rather than acting as a way to alleviate short term financial stress, ER services now see many clients who are experiencing long term financial hardship due to a combination of factors, including inadequate income support, unemployment or retrenchment, mental health issues, disability, housing stress and social exclusion. Clients often present repeatedly to ER services and use multiple agencies to help them get by.

In response to this, The Salvation Army has, over recent years, piloted and implemented a more holistic approach to the delivery of ER – the Doorways philosophy. Through this philosophical approach, ER addresses the client’s immediate needs and provides a model for intensive assessment of the underlying causes of poverty. The introduction of the ‘Doorways case management’ model, in conjunction with ER, is one of the mechanisms employed to facilitate more holistic responses to client needs. Under the Doorways philosophy, ER and case management complement each other to address the symptoms, as well as causes of financial hardship. The model aims to assist clients to break the cycle of repeated crisis, facilitate personal growth and social inclusion, and link them into the greater service system so they can access the services and supports they need.

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