Junction has been providing individuals with access to affordable housing and community support services throughout Metropolitan and Regional South Australia since 1979. Currently, they assist approximately 4,000 tenants across 2,200 properties. In 2016/17 about 4,845 people accessed their community support services which focus around three main areas of need such as homelessness/affordable housing, domestic violence and child protection.
When a child or young person (YP) is unable to live with their birth family, they may be referred to Junction by the Department of Child Protection for short or long-term residential care. While in Junction’s care, the YP are offered support through carers and various programs to provide a safe and stable home environment, build resilience, heal from trauma and provide hope for the future.
Last year, Junction announced a campaign to build new housing to better support the children and young people in their care. Since then, they have been working tirelessly but quietly behind the scenes to make this concept a reality.
Junction partnered with Hames Sharley as research partners to investigate design parameters for children in care. Junction recognises that the environmental settings in the current model of care are not delivering outcomes for children and young people and, despite all the hard work of staff and support workers, the model has to change.
We have to do better for these children and young people, who are soon to be young adults outside of the state care system. It has become clear there is little national or international research regarding the importance of design and built-form innovation as a key component of the success or failure of these homes.
This project specifically focuses on YP in residential care. This type of care can be viewed as an intensive therapeutic model to prepare the YP for family life or independence. They have many children and young people who are placed in residential care have repeatedly experienced traumatic home environments, whether in the family or foster care environments, often both. Traumatic experiences may have affected their neurobiology and development in early childhood, so they may appear to be mature young people but have the developmental understanding of a much younger child.
Junction and Hames Sharley believe that a contextual and considered approach to providing homes, through design aspirations and project principles will achieve an outcome that can change lives and turn the tide for this segment of the community. Junction and Hames Sharley have endeavoured to include children and young people’s voices in the development of the design brief as well ask direct care staff to define important elements.
Hames Sharley are running an internal design competition to investigate a place for primary use as a residential care home for YP that will be developed and tested in built form. The selected project will be used as a prototype to inform future designs. This is also an opportunity to develop a set of principles that can be applied nationally and
internationally to similar service models.
While this will undoubtedly be described as a house, participants are briefed not be constrained by traditional concepts of housing but be creative and seek to create a new paradigm.
Hames Sharley believe this process will achieve a great outcome that will deliver a new paradigm in housing for children in care.