My name is Siegfried Leland and I am a Service Centre Coordinator / Concierge based at The Department of Communities and Justice, One Place Service Centre in Coniston. I have worked for Barnardos for almost 6 years, I started out as the first male HIPPY tutor at Barnardos South Coast and have been in my current role for 4 and a half years.
One Place is unique for Barnardos, as we don’t only work directly with children and their families but also work with a wider range of people in the community. Together with my colleague Lauren, we are the first point of contact when DCJ clients present to the Service Centre for assistance.
We see around 400 individual homeless clients per month and have an average of 300 people present to the service centre every week. Most of the clients we assist have very complex factors impacting their lives. Many of them live with psychosocial disabilities, have endured complex trauma, are victims of family and domestic violence and have a history of abuse of alcohol and other drugs. It is also common for our homeless clients to have been involved in the justice system.
A large part of my role as Coordinator is to engage both Government and Non-Government Organisations to provide outreach at The Service Centre for clients. The aim of this outreach is to be able to provide suitable wraparound supports for clients and help to address some of the underlying factors that have contributed to them presenting for assistance. My role also includes organising and conducting regular events within The Service Centre (EG: NAIDOC, RUOK? Day, White Ribbon Day etc) and providing training and support for the Concierge and Security Team as well as many other “duties as required” to keep life interesting.
I take great pride in promoting a safe space for both our clients and other workers. Prior to Barnardos involvement in The Service Centre, police would be called to sight twice a week for clients who had escalated. In the time since we have been on site, this has reduced to once every 2 months and in most instances, only occurs when a client’s mental health has deteriorated, and we have had to call an ambulance to assist the client. This significant reduction stems from our “human” approach to clients, we aim to treat everyone with dignity, respect, and compassion.
Post COVID, the availability of safe affordable housing has significantly declined. This is the single biggest issues faced by the families and young people we assist in The Service Centre. When we couple this with cost-of-living pressures, it is not surprising that we are seeing an increase in families and young people facing homelessness.
My hope is that the children, young people and families that I work with are able to gain safety and stability in their lives. Safety and stability in their housing, relationships, and environments. I hope that they can be motivated to get the right supports, engage with them, and make progress in managing and overcoming the complex issues they face.
In my time with Barnardos, I have always felt fully supported, I have received invaluable training, I have been offered amazing opportunities and have had kind nurturing managers help me develop both in my role and as a person. What can I say, I love working for Barnardos!