Homelessness Week is a national week to raise awareness of people experiencing homelessness, the issues they face, and the action needed to end homelessness not just manage it.
Housing, Health & Homelessness
On Monday, 1 August 2022 Shelter WA held the official launch of this year’s theme in WA: Housing, Health & Homelessness. This chosen theme aims to discuss the opportunities for greater collaboration between health, housing and homeless services to reduce barriers and be more responsive to people experiencing homelessness, reducing the cycle of people in and out of the health system. The suite of events ahead of us is an opportunity to learn from best practice on how this can be done well and to inspire thinking around system change to better respond to the health and housing needs of people experiencing homelessness.
Ahead of the main opening, Aunty Sandra Harben conducted the Welcome to Country. A Whadjuk/Balardong Noongar Woman she is the Noongar Cultural Consultant for Noongar Mia Mia the only Aboriginal-owned and operated Community Housing Provider in the Perth Metropolitan Area.
In his recorded speech the Hon. John Carey MLA referenced the many government initiatives currently underway to end homelessness. Minister Carey had hoped to attend the opening but unfortunately was unable to due to Regional Cabinet commitments.
“I want to thank you and all the work that you’ve done as a sector particularly given the challenges that we faced with a COVID pandemic,” he said.
“I’m committed to working with the sector.”
“I am acutely aware of how hard the sector has worked over the last few years. All the challenges that have been thrown at you. And I make this commitment, that as the first Minister for Homelessness, I’m committed to working with the sector to get the best outcomes that we can from the large investment that both the government and the non-for-profit sector is amazing.
Homelessness and Housing First
“A key focus will be the Housing First approach. We have our strategy and I want to make sure that we champion that at every opportunity. And I will be again looking to work with the sector on how we better deliver the Housing First approach.”
After the Ministers video concluded the Chief Executive Officer of the Australian Alliance to End Homelessness David Pearson joined our launch from Adelaide. Mr Pearson has been appointed the new Executive Officer of the Western Australian Alliance to End Homelessness.
“I find this is a bit of time of mixed emotions for me,” Mr Pearson said.
“It’s sort of excitement, because we are getting focussed on the issue of homelessness which we spend our lives and so much of our time thinking and working on. But it is also a time of sadness that we have this phenomenon in Australia, that we have … more and more people who are experiencing homelessness.
“In Western Australia we have a strategy, that the community has set to not just grapple with the problem of homelessness but to seek to end it. And we have a government strategy as well that is in sync with that. That is actually rare across Australia. There isn’t any other state or territory that has a government or a community strategy in sync. That’s unique. But the challenge we have is to get on with implementing it … and to realise the vision set out in those strategies.”
Yamatji Noongar woman Anthea Corbett was homeless when she received a diagnosis of cancer on her foot. Her dreams of living in regional WA were put on hold as she moved back to Perth, risking being homeless again to receive treatment.
“I had to come to Perth, and I spent two weeks in a lodge where I waited for my surgery, Ms Corbett said. “I was so frightened. I didn’t want to tell anybody. I had no one to tell, my family had neglected me and didn’t want me around.
“I chose to have an amputation.”
“I had to tell somebody; I was concerned for my children … if I’m going to die because of my cancer, I want my children to know that I love them. My doctor and the staff at Sir Charles Gardiner Hospital were so nice and caring. I’ve done a thank you card for them.
“I chose to have an amputation below the left knee and to be fitted with a prosthesis. I went into a rehabilitation hospital after my surgery and was fitted with a leg. I read books about how to live with my disability. I’ve had heaps of physiotherapy.
“Miracles” are now happening for Ms Corbett. She is looking to start her own business and has as three units left in her Diploma of Visual Arts. In 2020 she created artwork for the National NAIDOC Week poster. Watch this video about that artwork here.
Homelessness Week 2022 would not be possible without the support of our sponsors: Lotterywest, the WA Alliance to End Homelessness, Department of Communities, Fleetwood Australia, Uniting Church in the City and Beyond Bank.
Did you attend this event either online or in-person? Give us your feedback here.