DDF intern makes a difference!

Interview by Anthony Collebrusco

Jacqueline Anderson is about to finish her final semester at the University of Adelaide, earning a double degree in International Relations and Arts with a major in sociology and minor in international development.

The COVID-19 era is an unusual time to be a university student. In addition to regular assignments, she is writing 2000 words per week for tutorial participation. She is completing an advanced research capstone for her sociology major by studying policy related to school feeding programs that could be implemented in South Australia. On top of that, all work has been fully remote this semester.

And if that weren’t enough, she is also doing essential work for Neami National as part of the Adelaide Zero Project (AZP), helping account for and house the increasing number of people experiencing homelessness during the COVID-19 era.

Neami National is a Foundation partner and acts as the data custodian for the AZP. Jacqueline is currently employed with Neami as an Operational Support Officer and initially got involved with them by applying for an internship with the Don Dunstan Foundation. For her, it was the legacy of Don Dunstan and the work of the Foundation that led her to apply.

“I’ve known about Don Dunstan my entire life. My family has been enormous fans of him and his legacy, especially in the arts. I didn’t have enormous knowledge of the Adelaide Zero Project, but I knew I couldn’t pass over work with the Don Dunstan Foundation and having that as a learning experience.”

When she first started on AZP, Jacqueline was tasked with data management of the By-Name List, the AZP’s tool for tracking active homelessness in Adelaide.

When an individual is identified as experiencing homelessness, they fill out a survey detailing where and for how long they have been sleeping rough as well as information about their mental and physical health. They are then scored on a complexity scale, which informs their housing needs and support systems to ensure successful tenancy.

Jacqueline is responsible for recording this information as well as participating in housing allocation meetings to help find suitable housing solutions for these individuals.

“People fill out surveys, which I then input into the system. Then, every time they are seen on our outreach rounds, I get a note of that and record what they’re doing, how they’re going, and we build a profile on this person. We are able to use that to look at the overall complexity of our clients and find the most appropriate housing for them.”

This information is invaluable for the AZP’s work, and since it tracks information related to mental health and use of emergency services, it is increasingly relevant to political leaders seeking to resolve the challenge of rough sleeping in Adelaide – a challenge exacerbated by the COVID-19 crisis.

The number of actively homeless in Adelaide has increased from 201 in March 2020 to over 350 in April 2020, making outreach and data management more difficult.

“It’s really hard to have contact with everyone when your clients have increased dramatically,” says Anderson. “The team and I are actively working on ways to adapt the data to these changes.”

Despite the challenges, Jacqueline has been impressed with case workers’ ability to maintain constant communication with their clients and the effort to ensure that as many people as possible are housed.

“For us to adapt to getting so many new consumers, it has been stressful, especially for caseworkers. But I think that the passion of ensuring that everyone was safe really united all the AZP agencies.”

This collaborative effort has helped ensure that vulnerable people were supported faster and that many of the people on the By-Name List were temporarily sheltered during the COVID-19 crisis. As the highly dynamic situation begins to settle, Anderson is eager to see the data develop in the coming months, gain better understanding of the impact of AZP’s COVID-19 response and how it may inform future success of the AZP.

Anderson encourages students preparing for an internship to be ready to dive into a project fully. Try to shadow your supervisor, go to meetings, and learn the ins and outs of your work as much as possible. She says, “The benefits of what you can learn will outweigh any fears you may have.”

“Interning for Don Dunstan was one of the best decisions I made. Having the opportunity to work for something that I was incredibly passionate about, while also gaining skills that would increase my employability, resulted in me actually being employed in a position that I would want to do as a career.

“Things can happen that you don’t expect, and it really turned out to be the best possible situation for me.”

Jacqueline Anderson plans to continue her role in not-for-profits and someday hopes to pursue a graduate program.

Dr Jane Lomax-Smith AM appointed as new Chair of the Don Dunstan Foundation

Dr Jane Lomax-Smith

Dr Jane Lomax-Smith AM has been appointed Chair of the Don Dunstan Foundation.

The Foundation was established 20 years ago and brings together research, policy makers and community groups to respond to social needs in South Australia through public events, collaborative projects and research. Supported by the University of Adelaide and Flinders University, the organisation builds on the legacy of the late Don Dunstan, who was first elected as Premier of South Australia 50 years ago this week.

Jane follows the highly successful period of leadership by the Hon. Rev. Dr Lynn Arnold AO, who has completed his term as Chair but remains on the Board.

Executive Director of the Foundation, Ritchie Hollands, said “Lynn’s leadership over the past ten years has been tremendous, and has seen both the breadth and depth of the Foundation’s influence grow significantly.

“We are thrilled to have Jane driving our thought leadership and social justice agendas – both now in these uncertain COVID-19 times, and beyond,” Ritchie said.

Jane is a consultant pathologist who has been involved in public life through local and state government for over 20 years. She has been an Adelaide City Councillor, Lord Mayor of Adelaide, a member of the House of Assembly and a State Minister for Education and Tourism. Jane has held several Board positions and has most recently been the Chair of the Board of the South Australian Museum and Presiding Member of the Teachers Registration Board SA.

Jane said her migration as a young professional from London to South Australia was inspired by Don Dunstan’s progressive agenda and international reputation.

“I feel fortunate to have known him in the last twenty years of his life and was honoured to have been on the Foundation’s Inaugural Board.

“It will be a privilege now, to promote Don’s legacy by serving as Chair of the Board, and I look forward to supporting social and economic innovation through the Foundation,” she said.

Homelessness to surge in South Australia because of COVID-19

Celeste Villani, City Editor, The City|May 10, 2020

Shelters are bracing for a surge in homelessness in SA in both employed and unemployed people because of the COVID-19 crisis – there’s already been a huge spike in the CBD.

Read the article here …

Dunstan News December 2018

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