Grant Opportunity

Kimberley Community Legal Services
PO Box 622
Kununurra, WA, 6743

30 stories – How Aboriginal people experience public housing in a remote West Australian town -

Kimberley Community Legal Services (KCLS) provides free legal advice, education and representation to clients in need across the Kimberley region of Western Australia. With 14 staff covering an area larger than Victoria and Tasmania combined, we provide regular services in all six major towns and about 15 remote Aboriginal communities in some of Australia’s most challenging environments.

In addition to legal services, KCLS provides financial counselling, family violence support, and intensive tenancy support programs. Our practice philosophy is based on holistic, client-centred service delivery. We try to go where our clients are, and provide the service they need, in a culturally appropriate way.

We see over 1000 clients annually, more than 80% of whom are Aboriginal. Nearly all of our clients are living in conditions of poverty, and often doing their best to cope with the pressures of a post-colonial society. These include high rates of substance abuse, family violence, unemployment – but also communities characterised by great resilience, humour and mutuality.

  • Total Requested Amount
  • Total Raised From Donors
  • Remaining Goal

Project Details

Postcode where activity will take place: 6743

Start Date: 01/03/2019

End Date: 31/08/2019

Target Population:

  • Indigenous Australians
  • Social and economic status > Economically disadvantaged people

Field of Interest:

  • Community and economic development > Housing development
  • Information and communications > Information communications technology

Project Summary:

"30 stories" will combine advocacy and storytelling in an innovative attempt to humanise and shift the dialogue on public remote housing.

Starting in March 2019, we will begin an intensive 6-month exploration of the experiences of 30 public housing tenants in the town of Kununurra, WA.
Working closely with these 30 clients, KCLS will be more than just their legal advocate. We will help these clients share their stories publicly in real time online. And we will help draw together the common themes and issues arising from those stories, culminating in specific proposals to improve participants' housing, their individual and collective capabilities, and the workings of the housing system.
Throughout, we will work transparently and cooperatively with the WA Department of Communities housing staff and other stakeholders. Housing staff have indicated enthusiasm and a willingness to support the project - even though it may result in proposals for changes in their practices and performance.

We hope that by illustrating how these 30 people experience public housing, and the housing bureaucracy, this project will contribute to specific improvements in housing administration, as well as a better public understanding of our clients and the challenges they face.

The project is deliberately non-visionary. KCLS does not have a pre-determined narrative or set of sweeping law reform goals in mind. Instead, 30 stories is a fine-grained look at the pattern of prosaic daily conversations, decisions and actions that determine people's housing situation in practice. Our perspective is firmly from the ground up, starting with people's stories as the fundamental basis for learning and systemic change.

The key elements of each client's journey will include:
- Assessment: A comprehensive review of the tenancy, covering the current state of the premises (backed by an independent expert building assessment), review of tenant liability and bills, maintenance history and needs, tenant capability and needs, etc.
- Advocacy: On the basis of the assessment, KCLS will advocate for rent reduction, maintenance needs, client supports, debt waiver or whatever else is needed.
- Public Communication: KCLS will assist the client to tell their story as it unfolds, via a dedicated high-quality website. The site will also offer a glimpse into the operation of KCLS as a community legal centre.
- Systemic Changes: KCLS will track systemic issues affecting multiple clients, analyse the trends, and seek sensible changes that would improve the overall operation of the housing system.
- Final Report: KCLS will publish "30 Stories", a full report including the client's stories, in their own voice, as well as an account of systemic changes and recommendations for improvement. The report will highlight both good and poor aspects of the housing system.

This is not an ideological or political project. We are interested in how thing actually look and work from our clients' perspective, and in achieving real changes to benefit our client community. We will not pursue issues or policies that do not arise directly in response to the lived experience and stories of the participants.

Project Outcomes:

KCLS is seeking to achieve the following:

1. Improvements in the housing situation of the 30 participants, through direct legal advocacy. Measure: quantitative outcomes (eg, maintenance requests acted on, rent reduction $$s, debt waived, etc).
2. Systemic improvements in the housing system. Measure: specific policy/operational changes attributable to KCLS advocacy.
3. Improved public knowledge and appreciation of public housing in remote areas. Measure: media stories, website hits.
4. Empowerment of our clients through storytelling and collective advocacy. Measure: qualitative post-program evaluation by the participants.

Note: KCLS will deliver this project largely out of existing resources. We are seeking some additional project funding (outlined below) to cover project costs that can not be covered from our existing budget without eroding other programs.

Budget Details

Total Budget: $63,000


Income item Price ($)
ACF donor 13000
KCLS existing resources 50000


Expense item Price ($)
Housing inspections ($250 x 30) 7500
Website design 1000
Final report design & publication 4000
Bulk Freedom of Information request 500
KCLS staffing and other expenses 50000

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