Ngoonooru-Wadjari woman Naydeene Edwards understands first hand how not having your own home can affect your mental and physical wellbeing.

Having been on her own journey of homelessness and working in the housing sector, she set up her own program called R U House Ready to help Aboriginal people facing or at risk of facing homelessness.

Based in Western Australia, R U House Ready runs half-day workshops, full day workshops or tailored support to help Indigenous and Torres Strait Islander people find long term housing, homeownership or sustainable housing.

Ms Edwards said the need for the program arose from her own personal experience and wanting to help other Indigenous people understand the structural barriers of housing.

“A lot of people do get set up to fail because they don’t actually understand how the private sector works,” she said.

“When you’re in a crisis and you have so many complex issues in need, they’re not the things that you think about it’s basically about getting a shelter over your head.

“And housing is not just about bricks and mortar, it’s about your identity, it’s about belonging.

“So when it comes to the community, a lot of people are in crisis because they’re either living with family, or in a homeless predicament, or facing homelessness, or in short term residential tenancies where there is no stability.”

Edwards said the housing system did not cater for people from different cultural groups, including First Nations people.

“The system is designed to set us up to fail, not just by process but in regards to how it’s a box,” she said.

“It’s like if I said let’s play a game of cards but if I don’t tell you the game rules, you’re not going to be able to beat me because you don’t know what the game is.

“If I tell you the game rules, you can play the cards in your hand, you have a strategy and nine times out of ten you’ll probably beat me.”

One of the more prominent issues Indigenous people face during homelessness is a lack of cultural understanding, Edwards said.

“The complex needs of understanding the cultural needs of Aboriginal people, that doesn’t always let people fit into a box either,” she said.

“We have large families and we look after our families and that can be an issue for housing too.

“The housing sector doesn’t really accommodate the cultural needs when it comes to Aboriginal people and housing.”

Edwards said she had tailored R U House Ready to help Indigenous people facing homelessness in the long term.

“There’s a lot of agencies that offer support but they’re only short periods of support,” she said.

“So they aren’t holistic or long term to help people through the whole thing it’s bandaiding a crisis and educating for long term periods.

“Which is why R U House Ready is about educating people and trying to give them the tools to help them with overcoming them so they can look at long term tenancies and maybe go from homelessness to homeownership or long term sustainable housing at least.”

Edwards hopes to announce more R U House Ready workshops on her website and Facebook later this year.