The ACT government has granted a reprieve to a trial of hoarding support services that was found to benefit participants for another 18 months, despite lingering concerns impermanent funding arrangements risk increasing trauma among the trial's clients.
Woden Community Service, which ran the trial earlier this year, will receive $300,000 to continue the hoarding advocacy support service, which connects people with mental health support and cleaning providers.
Health Minister Rachel Stephen-Smith said the small number of severe hoarding and squalor cases in the ACT could have a large community impact.
"This funding will provide a more comprehensive evidence base of the impact community based support services and case management can have in managing the personal and community impacts of hoarding behaviour," she said.
Woden Community Service chief executive Jenny Kitchin said the organisation welcomed the funding and commended the government for recognising case management approach.
"We are heartened that the people who have issues with hoarding who we previously worked with can now be assured of receiving the supports they need for the next 18 months," she said.
Mental Health Minister Shane Rattenbury said in a statement hoarding behaviour often involved mental health issues which meant regulatory action was not the sole answer.
"We need to work with people, provide them with the support they need and therefore reduce the impact on the neighbours in the long run," he said.
The start of the trial extension will be negotiated between Woden Community Service and ACT Health, but the trial is again expected to focus on high-level hoarding cases.
The ACT government's hoarding case management group is currently overseeing four cases and monitoring one.
A statement from the ACT Health Directorate said the hoarding case management group would "investigate options for ongoing funding for hoarding advocacy support services" subject to further evidence of the trial service's efficacy.
The Sunday Canberra Times last week reported the trial would not be able to continue without extra funding, despite a report prepared by Woden Community Service finding it was beneficial in helping three serious hoarding cases.
The report, which was released under freedom of information laws, said the trial's officer was conscious of building "superficial rapport" with clients during the three-month trial.
"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," the report said.
Three people were provided with support under the initial trial, with one client's house being removed from the serious hoarding register.
Woden Community Service previously provided hoarding support but withdrew in February 2018 due to funding constraints.
The service's director of mental health and housing, Pam Boyer, previously told the Sunday Canberra Times a lack of continuous funding meant new people and agencies often entered the sector.
"So you get new people's reactions and that in itself is quite traumatic for the person who is experiencing this," she said.
Documents released last week also showed then-health minister Meegan Fitzharris rejected a 2019-20 budget bid to fund a non-government organisation to run a hoarding advocacy service.
The first trial was part of a process to determine how future funding arrangements could work.