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The importance of relationships at Dillon House

Giovanna Nicolia, Next Steps Program Coordinator

Next Steps is a flexible, responsive early intervention program which aims to address both homelessness and the criminal offending of young people. The program works intensively, both in a residential setting and in an outreach case management capacity, to provide access to secure, sustainable housing and simultaneously reduce a young persons’ risk of re-offending.

A key component of the Next Steps program is the provision of transitional accommodation at Dillon House. In addition to case management services offered by the Next Steps program, the young people who call Dillon House home are also supported in developing independent living skills, which includes cooking, meal planning, shopping, budgeting and banking.

Giovanna Nicolia, Coordinator of the Next Steps team, says Dillon House is vital for young people at risk of becoming homeless, or those already experiencing homelessness. “It’s unique in being able to support young people who transition out of detention because the options for housing are very, very limited,” she says.

Many of the young people who come to live at Dillon House have experienced a traumatic childhood and can have difficulty connecting with other people. The staff at Dillon House provide a supportive environment where they can learn the ‘soft skills’ of developing and maintaining relationships.

Giovanna recognises the critical importance of staff building solid relationships with young people. “Our work is very relational where we offer support, mentoring and guidance. We establish appropriate relationships with good boundaries to support young people who might have issues around emotional regulation, sharing with other people and problem solving,” she says.

The building of these relationships is also extremely fulfilling for the team at Dillon House. “Our biggest rewards are successfully building trust with young people, seeing young people learn to have more positive relationships, build capacities to resolve conflict, better manage stressors and build both healthy personal and community connections,” says Giovanna.