Debra heeds calling with care that is person-centred

A series of interest rate rises and soaring rental prices is taking a toll on people and families across the country. A report from Queensland Council of Social Services reveals there are about 300,000 Queenslanders who are homeless or experiencing housing insecurity.

This Homelessness Week (7-13 August) we talk to Debra, one of our dedicated community housing officers about the vital work she does in the Bundaberg community.

Tell us about your role at Centacare

As part of the Centacare Housing team, I walk alongside people who are homeless or who are at risk of homelessness to identify immediate supports and pathways to safe and permanent accommodation. I take referrals from other organisations and I visit people in their home or other community setting. I learn about the issues that might be putting them at risk of homelessness and discuss support options with them.

We support people in a range of ways. It might be helping to respond to a breach notice, notice to leave or warrant of possession, or providing guidance on speaking to their landlord about difficulties paying rent. They might benefit from receiving counselling, and we can provide warm referrals to suitable services.

I often visit people who are at risk of losing their tenancy due to the condition of the property. Some people may display hoarding behaviour – a complex and obsessive need to acquire and keep things, including animals.

At Centacare, we say that we are called to care. What does care mean to you?  

Care to me means providing services that reflect the needs of the client. I do this by building a rapport with the people I support. If a client feels comfortable with me, they are more likely to open up about what’s important to them. I listen carefully and without judgement and this helps me to identify the services and support that’s right for them.

What helps you to be great in your role?

As an officer in the Australian Army, I managed the logistics for large-scale training exercises and worked closely with soldiers from all walks of life to support their needs. This gave me the skills and experience needed to build supportive and respectful relationships with all kinds of people.

Our team maintains a large network of support organisations and service providers that we can tap into and link our clients with. We say that there is no wrong door at Centacare. If we are unable to support you, we’ll find someone that can.

The other thing that supports me in my role is the people I work with. The work that we do can be very challenging, but we help and support each other and that makes all the difference. Knowing that we are all working together toward a common purpose of providing loving care is a great comfort to me.

Do you have a calling to care?

Wherever your calling comes from, if you want to make a meaningful difference in the lives of others by caring about them and their future, Centacare is the place for you. Find about more about working for Centacare.

If you’re experiencing challenges with your current tenancy or living arrangements, our Housing Support service will work with you to try resolve the issues and sustain your tenancy. Our service operates across the Fraser Coast, South Burnett and Bundaberg regions and in Childers and Gin Gin by appointment.