The latest announcements from Shelter WA
A new report using data from 73 homelessness services operating across WA provides a picture of inadequate levels of funding, leading to high levels of unmet demand for housing and services for people in need.
The Funding of Western Australian Homelessness Services 2022 report commissioned by Shelter WA and undertaken by the Centre for Social Impact at the University of Western Australia (CSI UWA), is a comprehensive overview of the funding of homelessness services in Western Australia (WA).
This report is based on findings from 73 homelessness services who provided assistance to 75,402 clients across WA in 2020-21. It provides an overview of the current state of homelessness and a comprehensive analysis of the funding of homelessness services which assist those experiencing homelessness and those at risk of homelessness in WA.
The report reveals high levels of unmet need. Overall, only 27 percent of services indicated that they were able to meet 90 percent or more of client demand; over half of all services (55 per cent) reported that they were unable to meet 75 per cent of demand or greater.
Despite high levels of unmet demand for services and accommodation, the vast majority of services (81.7 per cent) did not report any change in funding between 2019-20 and 2020-21.
The report found current levels of funding to be inadequate and recommend ed an increase in funding to homelessness services.
The report also found there are relatively low rates of transition from rough sleeping to permanent housing, due to the lack of social and affordable homes, with people experiencing long-term rough sleeping homelessness also exhibiting high complex health needs.
“At present there is a significant shortage of permanent housing options. In 2020-21, 57 per cent of Specialist Homelessness Service clients had unmet long-term housing needs,” Professor Flatau said.
In addition to the funding gap, the report also found significant issues in relation to the nature of contracts and commissioning of services.
“We found the effectiveness of funding and service delivery is impacted by the rollover of contracts, the short-term nature of contracts, the lack of flexibility and discretion in the ways funding can be used, and shortfalls in indexation. This in turn impacts service delivery by poor staff retention due to insecure funding, an uncertain flow of volunteers (affected by COVID-related issues), and a severe shortage of social housing stock,” Professor Flatau said.
View the slide presentation.
One of the most significant findings of the report was in relation to the overrepresentation of Aboriginal people experiencing homelessness in Western Australia. The authors of the report commended important steps taken by the Western Australian Government to fund Aboriginal Controlled Community Organisations in the delivery of homelessness support particularly with respect to new Housing First programs.
The report also found current investment in homelessness services critical for young people particularly in the areas of prevention and early intervention, to be severely lacking, and the system to be “adult focused”.
Andrew Hall, Executive Officer at the Perth Inner City Youth Service (PICYS) contributed to the report and described a difficult system for young people to navigate.
“There needs to be a greater focus including dedicated resourcing to effectively address young people experiencing homelessness, both in addressing the identified and known pathways where we see young people enter homelessness; responding as early as possible to provide safe and appropriate individual plans that are created with each young person – in many cases this will include safe affordable accommodation options; and most importantly maintaining a direct relationship with each young person so they are not left alone to navigate an impossibly complex “adult designed homelessness system,” Mr Hall said.
Another contributor to the report, the Australian Red Cross, which provides frontline services to people experiencing homelessness including a tenancy support program to assist people who can no longer afford the private rental market.
“Prevention is better than the cure. Suitable and affordable accommodation can have profound benefits on the lives of individuals, families and the community. Australia needs to consider a whole of housing continuum response to homelessness which includes the prevention of homelessness, through the provision of long term, client focused and strengths-based support.
“We know that once a person becomes homeless, the trauma and impact is significantly higher than if we support someone to remain in their own home. Becoming homeless is not just the loss of a house. It is the potential loss to families, connection, employment, community and home. We want to prevent that from happening through our client focused support,” said Daisy Ashworth, Community Programs Lead, Australian Red Cross.
The report makes seven recommendations presented against the end goal of ending homelessness in Western Australia and specifically addresses the best mix and level of funding for homelessness services to best meet the needs of those experiencing or at risk of homelessness.
“Ending homelessness in Western Australia is achievable and we have world class service providers with the expertise to achieve outcomes, but what they lack are the resources and infrastructure to do it. The Western Australian Government’s Homelessness Strategy represents the right approach, but just needs an additional boost in funding. When combined with new commitments on social housing and a more proactive Labor Government federally in terms of homelessness we would expect to see tangible reductions in homelessness going forward,” Professor Flatau concluded.
“Shelter WA looks forward to working with the State and Federal government on the policies, programs and new investment that is desperately needed so that all people have access to the housing and services they require when times are tough,” said Michelle Mackenzie, Chief Executive Officer of Shelter WA.
The reports recommends:
Report author Professor Paul Flatau is available for interview on 0447 767 719.
Read the full report here.
The Centre for Social Impact
CSI UWA delivers education that transforms, research that informs and community impact that builds positive social change. We are part of the Centre for Social Impact network – a collaboration between UWA, UNSW, Swinburne University and Flinders University.
Shelter WA is proud to launch the official opening of STREET TO STREET, an extraordinary 50-piece sculptural installation giving voice to people with Lived Experience of housing insecurity and homelessness through the art making process.
STREET TO STREET is the culmination of Shelter WA’s first Artist-in-Residence program, featuring contemporary multidisciplinary artist Deborah Ralph-Kafarela. Ms Ralph-Kafarela is an established artist who has also worked across a number of emergency relief services over the past five years.
Over her 16-week residency, Ms Ralph-Kafarela engaged 89 people with lived experience of homelessness through workshops held at St. Patrick’s Community Support Centre, Ruah Community Services and Uniting WA’s Tranby Centre.
“The 89 ‘co-artists’ involved worked on prefabricated wooden houses, which are the “size of a hug” – we say that because the houses are quite an intimate piece of work,” Ms Ralph-Kafarela said.
“A simple medium for people new to art to have a powerful voice.”
“The houses are made from pieces that can be pulled apart like a jigsaw, and the “co-artists” used stencils to embellish them with designs of gardens, cladding, and interior objects that make a home a home for each participant.
“There are beds, tables, chairs and even things like pets and flower boxes, everything you can think of to make a comfortable house were made available.”
“We used stencils and prefabricated components which provided a simple medium for people new to art to have a powerful voice without actually speaking – it’s like another language to communicate what’s going on around us,” Ms Ralph-Kafarela said.
Unlike most exhibitions, Ms Ralph-Kafarela’s work is only just beginning when the installation is packed down.
“My aim with this work was to create permanent housing through the arts. Instead of being an artist that simply comments or creates, I want to be an artist that facilitates action and cultural change through the arts.”
“This work was inspired by a similar piece done by American Artist Rick Lowe, who obtained and transformed a row of derelict houses into real housing for single parents through a community art collective. The whole community was involved in renovating them, cleaning them up and painting them. My aim is to repeat this process here in Perth,” Ms Ralph-Kafarela said.
“We want to create tangible social change.”
“This is all about using the arts as a catalyst for social change that engages thousands of people along the way,” she said.
“The Department of Communities has a program to rejuvenate ageing public housing. My dream is to create an artist collective a that can work in partnership with the Department on a housing a rejuvenation project.”
STREET TO STREET was supported by the Department of Local Government, Sport and Cultural Industries, Lotterywest and the City of Perth.
“This is Shelter WA’s first artist-in-residence program and we’re immensely proud of Deborah’s work, collaboration and vision,” Michelle Mackenzie, CEO Shelter WA said.
“Homelessness remains a key community issue across Western Australia. Giving voice and agency to people with lived experience is important if we are to work together to end homelessness. This is a big idea – but we’ve already had a lot of interest in the next phase of this project where we’ll hope to transform real homes.
We want to create tangible social change, not just comment on social issues,” Ms Ralph-Kafarela concluded.
When: Thursday, 16 December 3.30PM– 5.30PM (with official launch at 4pm)
Where: Artsource, Old Customs House, 8 Phillimore St, Fremantle
Who: The following will be available for interviews and footage:
Media Contact: Chantal Caruso 0447 201 377
Peak housing and homelessness body Shelter WA congratulates the Minister for Housing and the McGowan Government on expansion of successful water-saving pilot program in public housing.
Shelter WA has welcomed the expansion of the Waterwise project to a further 10,000 public housing tenants and families, with $26 million announced to extend the pilot program.
“We congratulate the Minister for Housing and Minister for Water on their commitment to supporting public housing tenants to reduce water use and lower bills,” Shelter WA CEO Michelle Mackenzie said today.
During the pilot program, nearly 1,000 water audits were carried out at high water use public housing properties, with 620 receiving leak repairs and 735 receiving water efficient fixtures.
“This is a great result for this retrofit pilot program.”
“Research consistently shows investing in water and energy efficiency programs provide one of the biggest bangs for your buck not just in terms of saving precious resources but in delivering savings to the hip pocket,” Ms Mackenzie said.
“The pilot program saw inefficient fixtures and fittings replaced, which reduced average household water consumption and household water bills by over one quarter. This is a great result for this retrofit pilot program,” Ms Mackenzie said.
“We look forward to working in partnership with government on how the community housing providers can support this and other initiatives, delivering savings to tenants and to the environment.
“It is also fantastic news that the government has committed to new social housing exceeding the current minimum standards for water efficiency,” Ms Mackenzie concluded.
Media Contact: Chantal Caruso 0447 201 377.