New Community Connectors program builds on the success of HRAR

July 1, 2022

The Victorian Government has announced a ‘Community Connectors’ program for high-rise public housing towers in metropolitan Melbourne.

The program is modelled off the successful High Risk Accommodation Response (HRAR) program, which was delivered by community health services across the state during the pandemic, however it is narrower in scope.

Community Connectors specifically targets high-rise public housing communities across metropolitan Melbourne. In outer metropolitan Melbourne and rural and regional Victoria, the program will be delivered via ‘mobile services’ to areas with large proportions of public housing communities and other sensitive settings such as rooming houses and caravan parks.

The Victorian Government today confirmed the program and an additional $8.5 million funding to deliver it. More information is available in this Homes Victoria information sheet.

The VHA welcomes the additional funding and continued focus on supporting Victorians in high-risk settings, however the narrowed scope of the program means that many vulnerable Victorians will miss out on the critical care and social supports that were provided by HRAR during the pandemic.

“While we are pleased to see the program continuing in some form, the Victorian Government must ensure that vulnerable communities in rural and regional Victoria have equitable access to healthcare services and support,” VHA CEO Tom Symondson said.

“We also want governments to provide longer-term funding for community health services to deliver programs like HRAR. Workers have built up relationships with their local community members over time – short-term funding doesn’t allow for continuity of these relationships or job security for the workers.”

Most, if not all, HRAR staff will have finished their contracts with community health services in June, with HRAR funding ending at the end of the financial year. The VHA has consistently raised concerns about the impacts of short-term funding for programs like HRAR, including through our recent media engagement with ABC News.