Mandurah, Rockingham councils unite to help homeless

Tackling homelessness

Mandurah and its neighbouring cities are teaming up to tackle homelessness south of Perth.

Last week the City of Rockingham passed a motion to lobby the State Government to build its second Common Ground facility in either Mandurah, Rockingham or Kwinana.

With a similar motion expected to come before the Mandurah council on the 23rd, Mayor Rhys Williams told the Times he welcomed the City of Rockingham’s decision.

Last year the State Government pledged $72 million, including funding for two Common Ground facilities, to house and support people sleeping rough.

The facilities offer a mix of permanent, affordable housing and are linked with services to tackle the root causes of homelessness.

One of the facilities will be built in the CBD, but the location of the other is yet to be announced.

Community Services Minister Simone McGurk welcomed the action but couldn’t commit to building the facility in Rockingham, Kwinana or Mandurah.

“A range of local government areas are being considered for the second Common Ground facility, to ensure it is located in an area where there is high demand for such a facility and the LGA also has the necessary infrastructure in place to support residents, such as public transport and local amenities,” she said.

City of Mandurah Mayor Rhys Williams.
City of Mandurah Mayor Rhys Williams. Credit: Jake Dietsch/RegionalHUB

Mayor Williams said Mandurah had been working with Rockingham and other local governments in its response to supporting homeless people.

“We’ve got a report coming to council in June that looks at the next step,” he said.

“We certainly believe there needs to be an increase in services in this corridor and in the southern corridor.”

Mr Williams said on June 23 council would receive recommendations from staff on the next steps and would then consider specific locations.

He said there were “a lack of resources for street present people and a lack of facilities south of Perth” and the second Common Ground facility should be built somewhere in the “southern corridor”.

The City of Rockingham also voted to lobby the government for “assertive outreach”.

Mr Williams said Mandurah had been in discussions with the state government for the past year and was finalising an agreement to fund case workers based in the city centre.

“The basis of the assertive outreach model is that there are people with expertise, working with vulnerable people in and around the city centre, working with police, security and the services providers to make sure those that are street present are getting the assistance they need,” he said.

“We’re getting some real traction in getting those services rolled out in Mandurah, which I think is a key gap in terms of the services that we’ve got.”

Mr Williams said an agreement with the state government would be done ”anytime now”.

“Once an agreement is in place, we’ll be going out to find a provider,” he said.

“We have approached the state government for them to allocate some resources to a two-year trial in Mandurah.”

WA Minister for Community Services Simone McGurk and Department of Communities director general Michelle Andrews teamed up with Big Issue vendors Ron and Raylene.
WA Minister for Community Services Simone McGurk and Department of Communities director general Michelle Andrews teamed up with Big Issue vendors Ron and Raylene. Credit: supplied/supplied

St Benedict’s Homeless Foundation chair Michael Kiernan is building a women’s shelter in the Shire of Murray next year and said there were “very few” larger facilities for the homeless south of Perth.

“Desperately, south of Perth, particularly the Rockingham, Kwinana, Mandurah areas do need the Common Ground,” Mr Kiernan said.

“But with the Common Ground there have got to be what is colloquially referred to as wrap around services. We just can’t take a homeless person or a person form the street or the bush and stick them into a room and say that’s it.

“What is so important, is to provide services to transition the homeless people back into society.”