The Department of Communities established the Office of Homelessness early 2022 to provide a dedicated focus on the stewardship, coordination, strategic planning, and practices relating to homelessness.
Homelessness is a complex social issue and our community is concerned about these highly vulnerable people, especially those experiencing the most acute forms of chronic homelessness and rough sleeping.
Reducing the number of people who are homeless or at risk of homelessness is a priority for the State Government with new activity and investment being guided by All Paths Lead to a Home: Western Australia's 10-Year Strategy on Homelessness 2020-2030 (the Strategy).
The Office of Homelessness will work closely with the community services sector, Aboriginal organisations and elders, people with lived experience, and local and state government agencies across Western Australia to take a systems approach to progress the priorities under the Strategy.
The establishment of a new Ministerial homelessness portfolio, together with the creation of the Office of Homelessness, provides a real opportunity to collectively achieve better outcomes for those experiencing, or at risk of, homelessness. This will improve accountability and transparency and support working towards the Strategy's aspiration of ending homelessness.
Breaking the cycle of homelessness requires a collaborative effort across all levels of government and community to ensure we have adequate housing, appropriate health services and other support services which work towards the Strategy’s aspiration of ending homelessness.
Priorities reflected in the Strategy are:
- Housing First – access to safe and stable housing without preconditions or judgement, supported by low-barrier and low-threshold accommodation and housing options as well as flexible and appropriate services that are tailored to individual needs.
- No Wrong Door – where people experiencing or at risk of homelessness can get help to find appropriate long-term housing and support regardless of which service or agency they connect with.
- Whole of community approach – collaborating and co-designing with people with lived experience, the community services sector, business and philanthropy, the community and all levels of government, to design and deliver appropriate and flexible housing options and services that respond to the diverse needs of vulnerable people in our community.
- Place-based response – informed by local needs across WA, context and capacity to ensure the right responses are delivered in the right places.
- Rough sleeping – initially targeting rough sleeping, as the most vulnerable cohort, with the intention that in the future there will be an increased focus on prevention and embedding system changes to improve and sustain our efforts to end homelessness.
Significant progress has been made in achieving the outcomes of the Strategy since its release in December 2019. This includes:
- Common Ground – $73.5 million for the planning and design of two Common Ground facilities in East Perth and Mandurah that will provide permanent, supported housing for people who are sleeping rough or experiencing chronic homelessness.
- Housing First Homelessness Initiative – $34.5 million for the Housing First Homelessness Initiative which is providing wrap around support and linking people sleeping rough in the Perth Metropolitan Area, Rockingham/Mandurah, Bunbury and Geraldton to accommodation.
- Online Homelessness Services Portal – $2.25 million for the design and development of an Online Homelessness Services Portal to improve visibility and access to accommodation and other services for people sleeping rough and experiencing homelessness.
- Boorloo Bidee Mia – the WA Government’s supported accommodation in the Perth CBD for people sleeping rough. Boorloo Bidee Mia is the first low barrier homelessness service of its kind, offering culturally supportive accommodation for some of the most complex individuals, many of whom have experienced long-term homelessness.
The Department of Communities invests more than $100 million in specialist services and programs for people experiencing homelessness each year. These funded services range from accommodation to life essentials and specialist support.
The State Government is aware of the challenges created by current housing market pressures and is working hard to support those affected, investing $2.4 billion over four years, to improve the quality and accessibility of social housing and homelessness services in the State.
Homelessness Week 2022
Homelessness Week is held annually across the nation to raise awareness of people experiencing homelessness. It’s also a time reflect on the collective action needed by community and all levels of government to help break the cycle of homelessness.
Homelessness Week 2022 takes place from 1 to 7 August. This year, the National theme is ‘To end homelessness we need a plan’.
Shelter WA coordinates Homelessness Week in Western Australia and this year their theme is ‘Housing, health and homelessness’. The theme explores the intrinsic link between housing, health and homelessness for people experiencing homelessness, or at risk of homelessness, and their need for appropriate housing and wrap around supports.
Shelter WA is hosting a series of events to discuss actions needed to end homelessness.
The Department of Communities works in partnership with Shelter WA and provides annual funding for provision of sector support, development and advocacy.