At last nights WALGA Zone Meeting, one of the topics on the agenda was our proposed submission to the Dept of Communities Directions Paper for the 10 Year Strategy on Homelessness Western Australia 2019-2029.
During our discussions at the meeting a consensus was reached that overall we’re in support of the Directions Paper, but that two key points were missing.
- The paper acknowledges that the Dept of Communities are the lead Government Department to address the issue, and that they need to really step up and start to lead from the front. There are a great many agencies, departments and service providers already working to address homelessness, but the Dept of Communities needs to take charge and really make sure all the others are working together, rather than in isolation.
- There was not enough attention given to the steep decrease in the availability of social housing over the past generation and the effect that has on homelessness overall. There is currently a 7 year wait for qualifying applicants to access state housing and yet there is no money in the state budget to increase the availability of state owned housing. We believe that an investment in building more state owned housing would not only reduce the waiting time, but also support the WA building industry.
Below are some of the key points from the 42 page document. The whole document is available via the link below if you’re interested. As always, happy to discuss or answer any questions via Facebook, email or give me a call.
The Dept released the paper to share the work that has been done so far and to seek feedback on how to better support those who are at risk of, or experiencing homelessness.
Like most things in Government, it’s a long process. Community consultations for the strategy were held throughout regional and metropolitan Western Australia in September and October last year. Consultations were held in Broome, Kununurra, Port Hedland, Karratha, Geraldton, Albany, Kalgoorlie, Bunbury, Cockburn, Joondalup and the Perth CBD.
According to the 2016 Census there are an estimated 9,000 people who are experiencing homelessness in Western Australia each night. About 12% of those or about 1080 people are considered rough sleepers. This covers people living in improvised dwellings, tents or sleeping out in the open.
Of those who were homeless on Census night in 2016:
- 1,083 (12%) were living in improvised dwellings, tents, or sleeping out
- 1,054 (12%) were in supported accommodation for the homeless
- 1,950 (22%) were staying temporarily with other households
- 991 (11%) were living in boarding houses
- 51 (1%) were in other temporary lodgings
- 3,871 (43%) were living in ‘severely’ crowded dwellings.
In 2017–18 specialist homelessness services in Western Australia assisted an estimated 23,739 people. The top five reasons for seeking assistance from specialist homelessness services were:
- domestic and family violence (43%)
- financial difficulties (37%)
- relationship/family breakdown (23%)
- housing crisis (22%)
- inadequate or inappropriate dwelling conditions (18%).
Family and domestic violence is the leading cause of people seeking assistance from specialist homelessness services in Western Australia and this is an area that Local Governments are already heavily invested in, supporting local non-profits and service providers.
The Department of Communities is the lead agency responsible for homelessness in Western Australia. Each year the Department of Communities spends approximately $85 million dollars on specialist homelessness services that assist families, women and children affected by family and domestic violence, young people and single adults. This includes family and domestic violence crisis accommodation and support, homelessness accommodation and support, outreach, and housing and tenancy support workers.
In addition to the specialist homelessness services that are funded by the Department of Communities, there are other systems at the local, state and commonwealth levels that interact with the homelessness service system:
- State government agencies including Justice, Mental Health, Health, and Education fund and deliver programs and services that directly impact on people who are at risk of or experiencing homelessness
- The Commonwealth Government administers income support payments and Commonwealth Rent Assistance
- Local government services such as libraries and rangers provide assistance to people who are at risk of or experiencing homelessness and in some regions local governments are directly involved in the provision of homelessness services and accommodation.
For more information, or to read the Directions Paper yourself, follow the link below.