Shelter WA is outraged with the corruption scandal unfolding at the Department of Communities. The seeming ease in which a senior public servant was able to steal funding over such as long period of time is breathtaking. This alleged corruption occurred while services for people who experience homelessness or who are in housing stress are stretched to breaking point.
Western Australia has a social housing crisis. Over 9,000 people experience homelessness each night, and over 14,000 are on the wait list for social housing, with an average wait time of over two and a half years. Each day two out of three requests for assistance from Specialist Homelessness Services are unable to be met. The housing system is broken and needs immediate investment.
Over 70 new homes could have been built
The real cost of this alleged corruption is on people. Every day, Shelter WA members see families, children and young people in housing stress, struggling to pay their bills and to make ends meet. Every day our members meet with people who are experiencing homelessness and are in desperate need of a safe place to call home. Too many people are falling between the cracks and are not getting the support that they need. Two out of three requests for assistance from Specialist Homelessness Services are unable to be met due to lack of investment by State government in services.
$25M can go a long way to alleviate this crisis. Over 70 new homes could have been built or support could have been given to 2,100 families to enable them to rent a home, or funding could have been increased for the currently underfunded homelessness services to keep people off the street.
Internal checks and balances are missing
Shelter WA expects the highest standards of integrity from government. Where are the internal checks and balances that ensure funding, desperately needed to support the most vulnerable people in our society, gets to those most in need? Shelter WA looks forward to the investigation by the Corruption and Crime Commission and the independent review of the Housing Authority.
“This is a complete betrayal of all Western Australians including those that contribute through taxes and the community services who work tirelessly, with limited resources, to deliver positive outcomes for people in housing need,” said Michelle Mackenzie, CEO of Shelter WA. “The cost of alleged corruption has impacted individuals and families. Whilst the focus is rightly on the lack of internal controls within the Department, we need to know the impact of this alleged corruption on people in housing stress and on those who experience homelessness.”