MEET THE AUSTRALASIAN AWARD WINNERS: LEADING INNOVATION: Hand Up, Bridge Housing

A field of 55 nominees – the biggest number yet for an AHI Awards cycle – produced 10 very special individuals, teams and projects who were anointed as both winners and highly commended recipients at this year’s AHI Professional Excellence in Housing Awards Australasian ceremony.

LEADING INNOVATION

Winner: Hand Up, Bridge Housing

 What the judges said:
“Most of will know how debilitating a fine can be for the communities we work with, and how it can lead to further diminishment of achievement and quality of life. Work development orders have helped some of these people but Bridge has gone a fantastic step further and are helping vulnerable tenants get their lives back in order by reducing their arrears while also learning new skills. The Committee was impressed with how Bridge is using what is already there and adding to it.

Chair of SGCH, David Thrift, underlined the importance of the Leading Innovation Award when he took the podium as the award’s presenter.

“Innovation is vital to the community housing sector. My experience on the board of SGCH for the past eight years has impressed upon me the ever-changing landscape in which we operate and that, as a sector, we must continually adapt and innovate to do more.”

Bridge Housing’s Hand Up Arrears Management Program helps tenants facing eviction, due to mounting debts, pay back their rent arrears. This is achieved by providing these tenants with financial counselling, and living and health skills, as well as giving them access to training and voluntary work. Since beginning in 2016, Hand Up has seen success story after success story, making the team from Bridge noteworthy winners of the award for Leading Innovation.

“I know that we all think about innovation and we get a little bit tired with that term, said Rebecca Pinkstone from Bridge Housing. “But, really, it’s exciting to be able to do new things in the sector, and that’s down to Bridge Housing, our Board and our CEO, John Nicolaides, who gives us a bit of freedom to take risks and do things differently.”

While Rebecca paid tribute to many of the Bridge Housing team who made the program such a success, she singled out a special group for recognition.

“I’d also like to thank our tenants,” she acknowledged. “Because, by the time you’re heading towards eviction, you’re honestly on a pathway to homelessness, and this program gives you a chance. Every single person that’s engaged in this program has sustained their tenancies, and that’s not just good for them and their families but it’s good for the whole community and the broader service system.”