If you’ve seen Larrakia Nation buses and cars driving around Darwin and Palmerston during the day, its likely you’ve seen the HEAL team working their magic.
HEAL stands for Healthy Engagement and Assistance in the Long Grass and focuses on connecting with people who are homeless. The HEAL team make it their job to know what all the long grassers in Darwin and Palmerston are up to and keep them connected and engaged with services.
When essential services like the police, Territory Families, Territory Housing or hospitals need to find someone who lives rough, they call on HEAL to find them and make sure they are where they need to be.
“Our main purpose is about meeting the needs of the people. We’re not a taxi service we are about helping them to turn up to where they should be and get the help they need” says Ranelle Singh the HEAL Coordinator.
Connection makes the program valuable
On a normal day HEAL officers are out building relationships with people who live rough. “We bring people together and tell them what is happening out there to help them”. It’s this connection and trust that makes the HEAL program so valuable. Without relationships the HEAL team wouldn’t be able to locate homeless people and much less encourage them to connect with the services they need.
“Royal Darwin Hospital will ring us to find a patient who has an appointment they must attend. We will go and look for the person and take them to the appointment” says Ranelle.
It’s really challenging for services to connect with homeless people which is why HEAL is needed to bring people to appointments or tell them about a something new that affects them.
The HEAL team is regularly called on to help with:
- Reuniting lost family members;
- Territory housing waiting list (accommodation);
- Welfare checks (clients requiring urgent medical treatment);
- Funeral (contacting family);
- Support referrals (family and children services);
- Keeping family’s united;
- Court support (keeping clients informed and providing transport and support);
- Support link (government departments & N.T Police); and
- Returning clients back to communities.
Arts in the Grass
Each Wednesday morning at Mindil Beach in Darwin the HEAL team meet homeless people for a chance to have breakfast, do some art and connect with services.
“Arts in the Grass is for anyone that needs a feed and wants information about how to engage with services that help them. CAAPS (Council of Aboriginal Alcohol Program) is there, Danila Dilba is there for health checks, Centrelink comes by to hold information sessions, Orange Sky sets up for all laundry, dry cleaning and showering needs” says Ranelle.
For more information you can contact the HEAL team on 0477 501 142