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Innovative new hub to support Australians experiencing vulnerability

Yarra Valley Water is proud to be part of the Thriving Communities Partnership which has announced the official launch of the One Stop One Story Hub pilot program.

The world-first digital platform will help Australians experiencing vulnerability more easily connect to the extensive support they’re eligible for across a range of essential services without having to individually contact multiple organisations.

Co-funded with Yarra Valley Water, AGL, the Commonwealth Bank, Telstra, Transurban and Sydney Water, and built by technology partner Infoxchange, the hub empowers frontline staff to refer customers to a broad range of support services through a single access point.

Thriving Communities Partnership’s Head of Innovation, Gabby Sundstrom, said the hub meant people would only have to tell their story once to one organisation.

“Having to repeat your story can cause people to relive shame, embarrassment and trauma,” Ms Sundstrom said. “Only having to tell their story once will be a huge step for simplifying processes for people and will ease the burden of accessing support through multiple, complex channels.”

Thriving Communities Partnership (TCP), originally founded by Yarra Valley Water, works across sectors to adapt organisational policies and practices to support those experiencing vulnerability.

TCP Chair Pat McCafferty, also Yarra Valley Water’s Managing Director, said the hub was a groundbreaking step forward in providing collaborative support to people experiencing vulnerability and financial stress.

“It’s a more effective and dignified approach to providing a helping hand to those in need in our community,” Mr McCafferty said.

“COVID-19 has increased the need for holistic support and the hub will enable people to access support systems they may not even know exist.”

TCP chief executive Ciara Sterling said that despite 35.5% of people in Australia currently just getting by or struggling, many people were still not accessing the support they were entitled to.

“Some of the barriers to this include a lack of awareness around what assistance is available, mistrust of organisations and embarrassment about having to ask for help.” Ms Sterling said.

“We’ve developed a new way of working to help people by redesigning and simplifying the systems. People’s issues do not occur in silos, so our response should not either. We want the ecosystem to wrap around them and are looking to create a better practice approach for the future.”

The pilot will focus on supporting people impacted by family and domestic violence and has been co-designed with community partners and people with lived experience. This scope was chosen for the pilot due to its complexity and privacy and security requirements were a key focus during the co-design phase.

“Additionally, we know that COVID-19 has exacerbated family and domestic violence and the need for support is growing,” Ms Sterling said.

Thriving Communities Partnership supporter Tim Costello said the hub was inspiring. “It’s really rare to have this many organisations across so many sectors come together and unite around a common cause,” Mr Costello said.

Fiona Guthrie, chief executive of Financial Counselling Australia, said the sector was delighted to see the launch of the One Stop One Story Hub.

“The name says it all really,” Ms Guthrie said. “This is about making it easier for people to interact with companies. And making it easier for companies to interact with people and community organisations. We will look back on the launch of the hub as a huge step forward. Congratulations to the foundation companies involved and thank you to TCP for having the vision and will to make it happen.”

Funding partners and community organisations Anglicare WA, Brotherhood of St Laurence, Financial Counselling Victoria, QCOSS, Uniting Vic. Tas, WEstjustice and WIRE have each made invaluable contributions to the co-design process of the hub pilot program by providing expertise from their sector and are proud to launch and endorse the program.

“There has already been great interest from a huge range of corporate and community partners to extend the scope of the project and we’re incredibly excited about the opportunity this presents,” Ms Sundstrom said.

To learn more about the One Stop One Story Hub, or if you are an Australian business looking to join the growing number of participating organisations, you can find out more at thriving.org.au

About the Thriving Communities Partnership

Thriving Communities Partnership (TCP) is a not for profit organisation that enables collaboration across multiple sectors including community, business, academia, government, NGO’s and those with lived experience. TCP’s goal is to see everybody have fair access to the modern essential services they need to thrive in contemporary Australia.

TCP’s approach focuses on understanding the often complex influencing factors of vulnerability using co-design and other community-led solutions that reduce the barriers to access and embed sustainable and effective change.

TCP believes the best results for individuals, organisations and the community occur when we have a movement of organisations working collaboratively within and across sectors to provide holistic support. The challenge is not to ‘fix’ people, but rather to unite and shape a system around what works better for people. We aim to create a fair and connected system, so that everyone in Australia can achieve an adequate standard of living, and live free from discrimination.