Corporate Member: Junction Australia

Name of Organisation: Junction Australia

CEO: Maria Palumbo

Joined AHI: 2018

Vision of organisation:

“We’ve tried to keep our sense of purpose as simple as we could make it and, in looking at that, we went out and asked everybody that works for us – why they work for us? What draws them to our organisation? The consistent message is: ‘I’m here because I want to make a difference’ and that, in itself, really sums up what we’re about.”

“As far as our mission statement goes, it’s really about being a positive difference in people’s lives. We work to build strong and safe communities and support children, young people and families to be the best they can and have a better future.”

Summary of services provided:

“From our purpose perspective, and that broader theme, there are two main areas we focus on: One is the housing operations and the other involves community services focused on children, young people and families in the context of them realising their potential. The specific services we have are around domestic violence, youth homelessness, counseling and community development. We work with young people who are under the guardianship of the minister who can’t be placed in foster care to give them a stable home with care and support.

Junction grew out of youth services, so children and young people are part of our DNA.”

“From there became part of the women’s sector through a merger with Domestic Violence Housing Services and the Women’s Housing Association. We expanded into supporting families, particularly in violent situations, but also families with children as well, so that whole cycle of prevention of violence in families. We care for children who fall out of those environments but we also want to work with women to prevent that cycle.”

Defining features of organisation:

“I think our point of difference is a genuinely holistic look at all the elements people need to get out of the circumstances they’re in – such as helping provide a safe home, a safe and connected community, a community that’s thriving more than it’s suffering from disadvantage and violence. We’re an organisation that thinks about that really holistically because we provide services across such a broad spectrum.”

Achievements of organisation this year:

“For me, the achievements are the big ticket items – what we’ve built this year. We’re in negotiation at the moment with government for around $140 million of development pipelines that will have a genuine impact on changing communities. That’s really significant, and we’ve got a range of projects in various forms of approvals and planning, and we’re getting ready to start building. To get ourselves to a place where we’re able to deliver, that has been quite amazing.”

“The broader impact that we’re having is also a positive for us. Our reach continues to expand. We were in contact with 8,500 people last year, and that ranges from people living in our housing to people getting access to our services. That has a huge impact, that’s a lot of people for one organisation. I think that, in itself – the impact – is the greatest achievement for us. Within that, there are so many great stories – good news stories – but that overall achievement, that overall impact at that level is really exciting for us.”

Comment on the current state of housing:

“We’ve been talking about the problems for too long and I think, the exciting thing is, there’s genuine solutions to the problems that we have with housing.”

“There are problems with affordable housing, there are problems with affordable living. We have problems with an old, rundown, concentrated stock of social housing and so much of it needs to be addressed but there are also solutions out there and what I feel incredibly encouraged about is that the solutions are real, and that state and Commonwealth governments are thinking about this in a way that’s a lot more innovative. They are understanding that the solutions actually come with partnerships; it comes with working across a broad spectrum of industries – community housing industries; development industries; financiers, everybody coming together to play a part in the solutions. I think we’re on the cusp of that happening more and more as opposed to feeling isolated, in that it’s the public housing authority’s responsibility on their own.”

“For me, housing is the opportunity that we have to make real change and a real difference that could be quite enormous, if we’re prepared to actually step outside the known squares and do something different.”

Why did you become a Corporate Member of the AHI?

“It goes back to the point I made earlier: helping connect everybody in a way that we can all play a role in influencing and arriving at a housing system that does better than the one we’ve had before. The sector needs to come together and do that. We need to be part of that but we also need to be part of organisations that are part of that story. So it’s a no-brainer for me that Junction Australia needed to join the AHI.”