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Building relationships at the frontline

Photo of Mick LinnanWhen General Manager, Housing Service Delivery, Mick Linnan was presented with a Queensland Police Assistant Commissioner’s award for his work with the Cairns Safer Street Task Force, two words on the certificate immediately stood out.

“The certificate referred to my character and integrity in leading the Task Force, and this really resonated with me because those are values I hold very dear,” Mick says.

These values continue to come to the fore for Mick’s Housing Service Delivery team – particularly during times of crisis such as Tropical Cyclone Debbie response work earlier this year.

During the disaster, teams worked selflessly, often around the clock, to deliver vital support and services to people affected by the disaster.  

“The way our staff pulled together and worked with emergency and other support agencies to help people affected by the cyclone and floods was nothing short of outstanding,” Mick says.

“It can take real persistence to contact vulnerable people in remote areas who might be in danger, and our staff just dug in and tried every avenue to reach those most in need.

Mick is relatively new to HPW, arriving at the department in 2016 following a long and varied career in the public service.

“Service delivery has always been a strong focus and a passion for me, and I’m excited to have the opportunity to play a leading role in the delivery of housing to the people of Queensland,” he says.

A few years back, Mick was working at the Department of Communities, Child Safety and Disability Services when he became involved in the Cairns Safer Street Task Force.

“Everyone knows Cairns as a major tourist location and area of outstanding natural beauty but increasing juvenile crime was becoming a real problem that needed a fresh approach to address the underlying issues,” Mick says.

The Task Force brought various government agencies, including Queensland Police, Communities and Child Safety, Education, Aboriginal Affairs, and Housing and Public Works, together to work with the Cairns community and local support organisations to help get young people back on track.

“We know that truancy and lack of education can lead to young people starting on a path to crime, so the Task Force looked at the root cause – why are young people skipping school? what domestic issues might they be experiencing? How can we work with them and their families to address these issues?” Mick explains.

By working closely with vulnerable people and involving them in decisions affecting their communities, the Task Force gained the trust that enabled them to offer much needed support following a tragic incident in December 2014 in Manoora.

“Because of the relationships we’d built through the Task Force, we were able to help the community manage their grief and provide some practical help and stability to support them,” he says.

More recently, the Task Force drew on their relationships and influence within the community to help people rebuild following a tragic accident at a café in Ravenshoe that claimed the lives of two people and left 14 with serious injuries.

“A big measure of the effectiveness of the Task Force was its ability to take a leadership role and support the people of Cairns through tragic events like these,” Mick says.

“If we’ve helped people to develop resilience and grow stronger as a community, then we’ve done a good job”.
Mick’s focus on people and service continues in his work at HPW, with a commitment to modernisation and a more customer-centric approach.

“The challenge for us in Housing and Homelessness Services is to try and get our processes as streamlined as we can, to ultimately free our staff up to do more work with clients.

“We’re looking at our services through the eyes of our clients and focusing our energy on giving them a better experience and a better outcome.

“It’s an exciting time to be at the frontline of service delivery,” he says.

Last updated 22 September 2017    Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)

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