World Homeless Day draws attention to the needs of people experiencing homelessness and helps educate the community about the issue. Shelter WA, Western Australia’s peak body for social and affordable housing and ending homelessness says having anybody experiencing homeless in WA is unacceptable.
“Between the 2011 and 2016 Census the estimated number of people experiencing homelessness in Western Australia has remained persistent with over 9,000 people experiencing homelessness on any one night,” said Shelter WA CEO Michelle Mackenzie.
Everyday across Western Australia specialist homelessness services see over 4000 people, with two out of three requests unable to be met. More can be done.
“Homelessness is a systemic failure of the housing system, it’s a combination of a lack of social and affordable housing options, underfunding of services that prevent homelessness and services that support people to maintain and sustain tenancies.
“In the last state budget, we were disappointed that despite a return to surplus the McGowan Government did not invest in more social and affordable housing supply and homelessness services.
“With a social housing waitlist of over 14,000 people, greater State and Federal government investment in social housing and homelessness services are critical, along with reform to current legislation that entrenches housing disadvantage.”
In August, Shelter WA co-ordinated Homelessness Week, which focused on an evidence-based solution on how we can end homelessness and end chronic rough sleeping. Housing First provides a permanent home and wrap around services for people who have experienced chronic rough sleeping.
Without the Housing First approach, this group of people cycle in and out of homelessness shelters, accident and emergency departments and the streets. In this model, the provision of housing first is an unconditional priority as the platform for people to focus on their recovery at their own pace. Once a home is provided, a multidisciplinary team of support workers work in partnership with the individual to understand and meet their needs.
Shelter WA brought Mr Bob Jordan, Ireland’s Director of Housing First, City of Dublin to learn how Ireland have embedded a Housing First approach into national policy and practice. These learnings were shared through discussions, presentations, workshops and meetings with Ministers and staff from the Department of Communities.
On World Homeless Day we continue to advocate for Housing First to be central to the State Government’s new State Homelessness Strategy for release this year, along with greater investment in services.
We will continue engagement with industry and the corporate sector as ending homelessness requires a whole of community response. Only through combined collective efforts will we end homelessness in WA.
Western Australia Estimates
• 9,005 people experienced homelessness on Census night.
• The rate of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander homelessness was 344.6 persons per 10,000: a rate more than 13 times the non-Indigenous population.
Of these people:
• 1,200 were children were under the age of 12.
• 3,132 were people under the age of 25. 56 per cent of homeless youth had left home because of violence between parents or guardians
• 1,508 people were over the age of 55. The number of women aged 55+ accessing specialist homelessness services doubled in the last five years.
• 52.5% of rough sleepers reported that they had been a victim of assault since they had become homeless.
Media Contact: Michelle Mackenzie, CEO: 0419 931 819.