Shelter WA hit the Goldfields in September.
Regional Engagement Manager Rhiannon Bristow-Stagg met with Shelter WA members Goldfields Indigenous Housing Organisation (GIHO), Anglicare WA, The Salvation Army, as well as the Shire of Coolgardie, Goldfields-Esperance Development Commission and Kalgoorlie-Boulder Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KBCCI).
Other meetings were held online.
Goldfields Indigenous Housing Organisation (GIHO) are an Aboriginal Community Housing Organisation (ACHO), employing and working in partnership with First Nations people. They provide housing and tenancy support services to Aboriginal people in urban and remote communities in the region.
GIHO participated in Shelter WA’s ACHO Capacity Building Project with further funding secured by Shelter WA through the Sisters of St John of God to continue the work and build on stage one. Despite the challenges of covering a vast area, GIHO are working collaboratively with local businesses and initiatives and looking to social impact measurement.
“The GIHO Board is looking forward to working with the Sisters of St John of God, and really excited for the next steps in this work,” explained CEO Merri Best.
Goldfields-Esperance is the largest region in WA, covering just under a third of the state. The challenge of servicing a vast region is a common theme amongst local organisations, the message being that the tyranny of distance brings a real cost to effective service delivery.
Youth is also a spotlight issue, with calls for more funding to address the issues young people in the region face, including transitioning out of home. A wrap-around housing service model would be welcome in Kalgoorlie, with the benefits of setting young people up for a brighter future. Sustained investment and philanthropy would be needed to drive such an initiative.
Emergency accommodation is currently stretched with no affordable housing for people to move on to after their stay. While this is a widespread issue, local factors are exacerbating this. Anecdotally there is a lack of smaller housing stock available, with 81 per cent of housing in Kalgoorlie-Boulder standalone three bedroom or more. In addition, rent assistance is insufficient to assist in a regional mining centre where prices are pushed up, to the detriment of those on low incomes.
Recruitment has become an issue in the region more broadly – with a lack of worker accommodation or housing preventing new recruits and retention. Childcare is just one sector affected by this, with vast distances to the next major centre commuting from elsewhere is not an option.
KBCCI report first-hand experience of the issue, with their new team member struggling to find a home to rent herself and living at the caravan park since arriving. Accommodation is also impacting on the ability to run large events as there is a flow on effect to tourism accommodation.
KBCCI recently ran a workforce accommodation survey to prepare a housing and land position paper to gather a comprehensive understanding of local housing and land shortages and the impact it is having on the labour market.
They also recently launched a project “the KBCCI Residential Housing Project was a way for the KBCCI to showcase products and services of our members and local businesses, as well as assisting with the housing shortage, if only in a small way”. Over 30 local business and KBCCI members further contributed to the project supplying all of the products and services, from laying of the pad through to the furnishings and fittings.
Planning and Support
The recent Goldfields-Esperance Major Project Conference highlighted many opportunities in the region, but also the desperate need for land and accommodation. The Goldfields-Esperance Development Commission have been planning in this area and produce regular land and housing summaries.
The Goldfields Voluntary Regional Organisation of Councils (GVROC) was formed in 2007, as a strategic alliance of Local Governments who contribute and work together to ensure development and retention of infrastructure and community services and undertake joint economic development initiatives. GVROC also covers around 940,000km2.
GVROC have been proactively working on a Housing Strategy to ensure optimal delivery of fit-for-purpose housing stock in the Goldfields Esperance region.
The Shire of Coolgardie is also taking a hands-on approach to issues such as ensuring local serviced land, the need for local maintenance options and support services. They are pragmatic about the fluctuations of a regional mining centre but dedicated to ensuring that those in need have a home.
Shelter WA looks forward to following up with the important work happening in the Goldfields-Esperance region.
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.