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Tackling homelessness in Perth’s northern corridor

Published Wednesday, 19th December 2018

The Cities of Wanneroo and Joondalup have developed a Regional Homelessness Plan in a combined effort to prevent and respond to homelessness.

Cardboard box on road

The plan has been two years in the making and was formally adopted by Council on 11 December 2018.

Both Cities have worked collaboratively to build an understanding of homelessness throughout the region. This has included valuable input from stakeholders who have an interest in the wellbeing of people at risk of homelessness or are currently experiencing homelessness.

The Regional Homelessness Plan recognises the multi-dimensional nature of homelessness and will be reviewed, evaluated and reported on annually.

The plan highlights that collaboration and partnership with the State and Federal Government, neighbouring local governments, homeless support services, community organisations and other relevant stakeholders is paramount to ensure people experiencing homelessness are provided with an effective and coordinated response.

The Regional Homelessness Plan endeavours to:

  • Outline how the two Cities will address homelessness through a role of coordination, support and advocacy.
  • Establish an effective, co-ordinated response to homelessness with the aspiration to end homelessness.
  • Target prevention and early intervention to help people take action early and reduce the likelihood of experiencing homelessness.
  • Increase the accuracy and availability of information that connects people to services and support.
  • Work collaboratively with a wide range of stakeholders and providers to maximise use of community resources in responding to homelessness.
  • Seek to understand the nature and breadth of homelessness.
  • Collect accurate, relevant data that is used wisely to inform decision making.
  • Increase community awareness and understanding.
  • Ensure that people experiencing homelessness are treated with dignity and respect.
  • Provide strategic direction for the Cities in relation to homelessness.
  • Advocate at the State and National levels.

While ABS Census statistics from 2016 indicate 0.08 per cent of the City of Joondalup’s population experiences homelessness, the City’s own research has found this number to be much higher.

The City of Joondalup has a protocol which guides staff on the process for reporting rough sleepers and how to engage with a person experiencing homelessness.

City of Joondalup Mayor Albert Jacob said while there was no specific mandate for Local Government to play a major role in addressing homelessness, Local Government through its planning, health, community development and regulatory powers can facilitate positive local and regional responses.

“Local Government is largely considered to be the sphere of government closest to the people, responsible for the wellbeing of communities through the provision of infrastructure, services and regulation,” he said.

“Sometimes all it takes is a change in circumstances and any one of us could become homeless. The Cities of Joondalup and Wanneroo are working together on a united approach to end homelessness in the region and we believe implementation of this plan will bring positive and long-lasting results.”

The ABS’ 2016 Estimating Homelessness Report found 0.18 per cent of the population in the City of Wanneroo was experiencing homelessness, with the geographical spread of the City making it difficult to determine an estimate of people sleeping rough.

City of Wanneroo Mayor Tracey Roberts said homelessness had the potential to reach all corners of the community and the caring support provided by local charities and volunteer groups directly addressed the issues encountered by people facing hardship.

 “This plan has a clear vision to empower those who can make a difference, which gives us hope that, by everybody working together, we can tackle the issue at every level,” Mayor Roberts said.

“This requires a whole community response. We are not simply talking about statistics or numbers – these are the lives of people and families in need. By furthering our understanding of the root causes and forging meaningful relationships in the local community, we can make a crucial day-to-day difference through prevention, early intervention and effective, long-term response strategies.”

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