Regional Engagement Manager Rhiannon Bristow-Stagg headed to Geraldton in August and met with various Shelter WA members.
Those visited include: Murchison Region Aboriginal Corporation, Regional Alliance West and Fusion, as well as the City of Greater Geraldton, Mid West Development Commission, Lighthouse Church, Desert Blue Connect and the Youth Affairs Council of WA.
Murchison Region Aboriginal Corporation (MRAC) are an Aboriginal Community Housing Organisation (ACHO) focusing solely on housing, providing social and affordable housing to Aboriginal people and their families in the Mid West and Gascoyne. MRAC also participated in Shelter WA’s ACHO Capacity Building Project. MRAC have 120 homes and are self-funded, relying on the income they generate from rent revenue to manage and grow housing stock.
Regional Alliance West (RAW) have been based locally since 1984 and provide a range of support services around housing, employment, and social support in the Mid West and Gascoyne regions. They are strong local advocates for those in need.
Fusion specialise in mental health and accommodation services and have started focusing on increasing domestic violence issues as well as fatherless programs.
Stopping in on a Wednesday, Lighthouse Church Geraldton is abuzz with the Taste & See Free Lunch, where on average 50 people a week come for a free weekly lunch run by a team of volunteers with local sponsors and supporters.
Geraldton’s Zero Project was funded under the State Government’s Housing First Homelessness Initiative (HFHI) in Geraldton. This funding enabled Ruah to take a systems coordination role to support the local community to target rough sleeping and chronic homelessness. Geraldton is one of three WA regions with a Zero Project, part of the national and global Advance to Zero movement.
In February 2022 Geraldton achieved ‘Quality Data’, meaning the ‘real time’ data can be used to drive change, measure outcomes, track reductions and advocate for resources. As of February 2022, everyone on the By-Name List (BNL) in Geraldton who was chronic or rough sleeping had a completed a VI-SPDAT. Insights from February 2022 showed that 70 per cent of those on the BNL are at very high risk of death and 61 per cent identify as Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander.
Local services have ideas for new initiatives, but a current lack of social and affordable housing is having a big impact on their ability on to assist their clients, as well as retain their own staff in the area.
Further out in the Murchison and Central Midlands, overcrowding is a spotlight issue, with the Youth Affairs Council of Western Australia (YACWA) highlighting the risks and potential ongoing impacts for young people. Other chronic issues include misuse of alcohol and drugs, lack of mental health supports, family and domestic violence and food poverty. As with Geraldton, housing for qualified staff is an obstacle.
The need for ongoing, long-term investment in social and affordable housing is evident across the Mid West.
Planning and Support
The City of Greater Geraldton are part of the Regional Capitals Alliance WA, which released their housing solutions and action plan and they have also provided support for local initiatives.
The Mid West Development Commission are acutely aware of the need for housing in the region, focusing on both the impact expanding industries has on housing supply, as well as the constraint it has on economic development.
Shelter WA looks forward to collaborating on opportunities for growth in the community housing sector in the Mid West.
Roundtable in Geraldton
Shelter WA will be participating in the Rural, Regional and Remote Women’s Network (RRR Network) fourth Roundtable Discussion, which will focus on affordable housing and ending homelessness across WA’s regions. The event will be held on Friday, 21 October 2022 and details and ticket bookings can be found here.
Services in Geraldton that missed out on a visit from Shelter WA in August can contact Rhiannon on firstname.lastname@example.org, to arrange a visit in October.
These 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.