The report Transitions to employment at Pindari explored observations made by UQ Business School’s Associate Professor Richard Robinson and co-authors Associate Professor Richard Brown and Tyler Riordan.
The project started out as an investigation about how training in hospitality-related skills could impact people as they move into independent or community housing.
“We reimagined Pindari Homeless Service at Spring Hill in Brisbane as a boutique hotel in order to change perspective, morale and operating practices,” Dr Robinson said.
“Instead of maintenance officers we had an engineering department. Instead of a triage, we had a front desk. Instead of cleaners, we had a housekeeping department.
“The desire was to both elevate the level of service and enhance the enthusiasm of those transitioning from homelessness in parallel with undertaking work skills training.
“A key take-home to emerge was that cooking, cleaning, time management, and health and hygiene are not only useful work skills, but develop an individual’s ability to live independently.”
Moreover, the research found participating in training resulted in further unexpected positive changes to participants’ physical and mental health, motivation, sociability and self-esteem.
Dr Robinson is quick to add the other key observation was that there are no quick fixes to complex personal issues.
“We need to question the thinking that programs of three-to-six months can get people with a background of extreme trauma into the workforce,” he said.
“A lot of healing is needed and that doesn’t necessarily happen in a short time.”
His final take-home establishes a need to take a longer-term view to strategies for providing simultaneous exits from homelessness and deep disadvantage.
Aaron Pimlott, Homelessness State Manager for The Salvation Army in Queensland, said the collaboration with UQ was firmly aligned with the organisation’s vision for the future.
“The Salvation Army’s overriding objectives are to have greater impact, increased innovation, stronger partnerships, and better stewardship for the communities we serve,” Mr Pimlott said.
“We are united in vision, mission and values, and have a national strategy to bring that vision to life.
“One person rough sleeping on the streets is one person too many. The Salvation Army is committed to end homelessness in a generation.
“Any initiative that sustains long-term tenancy outcomes for an individual, and supports diversion and prevention away from the homelessness service system, is greatly welcomed.”
Watch Dr Robinson's 2018 UQ Research Week Awards video, which showcases his research to address the hospitality industry’s high dropout rate by understanding the relationship between chefs’ working conditions and their mental health and wellbeing.