Shelter WA paid a visit to Broome in late September.
Regional Engagement Manager Rhiannon Bristow-Stagg met with Shelter WA members including Centacare Kimberley, Foundation Housing, Broome Aboriginal Short Stay Accommodation (MercyCare), as well as the Shire of Broome, Broome Chamber of Commerce Inc, Regional Development Australia Kimberley and the Kimberley Development Commission.
Centacare Kimberley provide a range of social support services across the region. They offer a holistic response that can support people to overcome multiple life challenges and local staff represent language groups from across the Kimberley region. They work in close partnership with other local organisations.
Broome Aboriginal Short Stay Accommodation (BASSA) offers short stay (maximum 28 day) accommodation for those visiting Broome for business, medical, cultural, judicial or family reasons. Aboriginal Support Workers can help with a range of services and connections, and a bus shuttle service into Broome is also provided. BASSA is managed by MercyCare in partnership with Centacare Kimberley, Nyamba Buru Yawuru and Nirrumbuk Aboriginal Corporation, and the climate-appropriate facility is meticulously cared for by Kuzi and his friendly team.
The funding gap facing homelessness services, as detailed in recent research commissioned by Shelter WA, is exacerbated further in the rugged Kimberley by the additional cost of delivering services.
Foundation Housing develop and manage affordable housing for people in need, including an affordable housing program for keyworkers in Broome. Providing more than just accommodation and homes, they also offer a high level of service and support to help tenants sustain their home.
The Broome Chamber of Commerce Inc have been working on various initiatives, including connecting local business owners who have a passion for supporting local youth with workplace mentoring opportunities. They operate the Working Together program which focuses on providing information, support and advice to business owners and operators in the West Kimberley to attract recruit and retain young Aboriginal employees.
Supporting young people in the Kimberley was one area of priority need raised by all organisations visited. Access to adequate housing for youth, particularly to support education, training and employment is considered fundamental to this.
Broome has experienced one of the tightest rental markets in WA, and since January 2021 has had a rental vacancy rate of under 0.4 per cent. The impact has been felt across businesses and organisations, with the inability to house staff also affecting vital services such as childcare.
In the most recent Shire of Broome Community Scorecard, the Broome community rated housing as a key concern, with this topic area experiencing the most rapid decline since the 2020 survey. Access to housing was rated particularly poorly by people renting, those aged 18-34 years or living with a disability.
After hosting housing crisis roundtable meetings in 2021 the Shire of Broome has been actively pursuing affordable housing opportunities. The Shire identified a need for housing for critical workers, cost-effective accommodation and homes for people over 55, and this year Council endorsed the business case for the first piece of work, a proposed Sanctuary Road project which could include key worker accommodation, an over 55s village and tourist campsites.
These regional visits are informing Shelter WA’s development of a regional engagement framework, a project funded by Lotterywest. For more information on Shelter WA’s work in the regions visit our Regional WA page.