A hoarding support trial will not receive ongoing funding from the ACT government despite an evaluation showing proven positive results.
The trial involved three serious hoarding cases and resulted in one case being removed from the serious hoarding register, according to a report presented to ACT Health.
The program's future depends on a cross-government funding commitment and the selection of a directorate to administer the program, according to a briefing prepared for Chief Minister Andrew Barr in August.
The trial's evaluation report was released under freedom of information laws. It was prepared by Woden Community Service, which ran the trial. The report found intensive case management made a significant difference for all stakeholders.
"The clients felt supported and saw that change was possible, even if it was incremental due to time restraints," the report said.
"Workers felt supported and collaboration between services rose, and the client, not the property, was at the centre of discussions and decisions."
The trial's hoarding advocacy support service officer received more than 20 enquiries for help in three months, however the limited scope meant more clients did not receive assistance.
The officer was conscious of building "superficial rapport" over the trial's short period could increase the clientele's trauma, the report said.
"Consequently, she adapted the level of direct involvement for each case dependent on what was required to enhance service delivery without compromising the client's well being."
But Health Protection Service executive branch manager Conrad Barr in August stressed to the hoarding case management group, a cross-government committee tasked with making recommendation's on the trial's future, there was no funding available to continue to the program.
Woden Community Service chief executive Jenny Kitchin said short-term funding models would not resolve serious hoarding problems.
"Our experience clearly demonstrates that sustained funding of a community based specialised support service is needed to address the underlying difficulties associated with serious hoarding disorders," she told the Sunday Canberra Times.
"This group of people often have significant mental health issues which can only be addressed by working closely with the person, building trust and rapport and supporting them as they navigate their way to better outcomes."
Limited funding forced Woden Community Service to stop providing ongoing intensive hoarding support services in February 2018.
The trial, funded internally by the Health Protection Service, was originally intended to run for six months, but was cut short to three and a half months due to "external circumstances".
In December 2018, then-health minister Meegan Fitzharris rejected a 2019-20 budget bid to fund a hoarding advocacy service run by a non-government organisation, according to a ministerial briefing. The trial was designed to assess future service options.
The service's evaluation report found it would be better placed outside a government department.
"This clientele has often had a long and often combative relationship with government services and there is a heightened degree of mistrust by participants towards government authorities," the report said.
"The building of rapport is crucial to a successful engagement with the client and this imperative step is often difficult for government services. This is not due to the skills of the government employees but rather due to the client's previous experiences."
In a briefing prepared for Chief Minister Andrew Barr, also released under freedom of information laws, a spokesmanHealth Protection Services said it continued to run the hoarding case management group, which met every two months and oversaw five complex cases, without funding and with no authority over most cases.
In August, Opposition Leader Alistair Coe proposed harsher penalties to allow forced clean-ups and frequent inspections. "Usually, by the time services are involved, it's almost too late. It needs to be done much earlier," he said.
Professor Mike Kyrios, a clinical psychologist and executive dean of Flinders University's College of Education, Psychology and Social Work, said at the time forced clean-ups did not work in addressing underlying hoarding problems, and support funding was unacceptably low.