Name: Sonja Moore-Carter
Title: Tenancy Case Worker, Anglicare Southern Queensland
Joined AHI: 2017
Residence: Redlands, Queensland
Years in housing: Eight
Current project or activity:
“I don’t really do projects in my role but there are always lots of activities going on. Currently, I’m working on developing a few connections and relationships within the community, and with other community organisations, to boost our resources. Like all of us [in the sector], we’re on a shoestring and we have lots of parenting or pregnant mums who come to us, and so I spend quite a lot of time trying to track down things they need for either their baby that’s about to be born or babies they already have. I’ve been connecting with a few organisations that provide those types of resources, which is fantastic and going great guns, and getting lots of things that we need.”
What made you choose a housing career?
“Well, I started off in an admin role in both of the last two organisations that I worked in, and I morphed into a tenancy role. As far as tenancy caseworkers are concerned, it’s really difficult finding someone who has an administrative and ‘tasky’ brain but also has the social justice and the community knowledge to blend the two. That’s a bit of a rare animal, actually, so I’ve had to learn this role as I’ve gone along – how to blend the two together so it works really well for the organisation. Really, though, it was just an accident (laughs). I started in admin and then morphed across into housing.”
What are you particularly proud of having accomplished?
“Oh, there are lots of things! When you’re working directly with people, some of them can be just tiny little things but when you change a person’s life – which we do on a daily basis – for me, that’s something to be proud of every single time.”
“I guess, in my current job, the role was created for me, and what I’ve done over the last 12 months is fine-tune our system. I’m a ‘systems’ person; I have a ‘systems brain’. That’s been very rewarding because it’s made my colleagues’ lives so much better. I’ve taken away all of that governance stuff. I do all of that now and I’ve developed systems around all of that. So my colleagues get to do the actual youth work – concentrate on the young person – and then I back it all up with all of the governance and compliance that we’re expected to do through our funding agreement. That’s been fun. It’s not everybody’s cup of tea but it is mine (laughs).”
What makes you motivated or inspired in your career?
“It’s assisting young people to access long-term accommodation successfully to sustain their tenancies in the future. And, I guess, big picture, my motivation is to prevent homelessness.”
What attributes make a great housing or advocacy worker?
“In my role, it’s the fact that I go over all the governance and all the legislative processes and all those ‘boring’ things but then – in general – it’s empathy, social justice values, flexibility, being non-judgemental… and, above all, a good sense of humour! When you’re cleaning out some really, really disgusting place and you’ve got the big thick gloves on wondering what you’re going to find underneath the bed, [a good sense of humour’s] very helpful. You’ve got to be able to laugh.”
What are the biggest challenges facing housing professionals today?
“From the perspective of our organisation, the challenges are lack of exit points, a lack of support services that assist our young people to maintain their tenancies, uncertainty around funding agreements and a lack of physical resources.”
What do you believe are the future directions for the housing profession?
“This is a tricky one… I attend Queensland Shelter meetings, and I’m seeing a greater focus on governing and legislation and, hopefully, this is going to lead to services providing really good quality housing. That’s what I can see happening – moving towards doing things under much more legislated rulings. Hopefully, it will end up with more good quality housing. I don’t see that as a bad thing. But that’s how my brain works!”
What do you hope to achieve from your AHI membership?
“I’m hoping I can glean more information, stay abreast of what’s going on in the wider picture and, maybe, come across some opportunities to help develop more connections to assist my role… professional development opportunities.”