Strategy to end WA homelessness

A WA group, including several CCI Members, is working on an ambitious plan to wipe out the state’s homelessness over the next 10 years.

The Western Australian Homelessness Strategy urges people to donate what they can afford and to sign a petition to register support for efforts to end homelessness in WA by 2028.

Executives, community leaders and CEOs from organisations which include CCI Members UnitingCare West and Anglicare want to move beyond just managing homelessness and hope to end it, once and for all, through coordination and collaboration.

The strategy involves five key areas which include preventing homelessness, improving data and building community capacity to end the problem.

Anglicare CEO Ian Carter said the total cost of homelessness ran into many millions of dollars each year and the 10-year plan would concentrate its resources on programs that offered long-term results.

“The cost of homelessness is massive in the health and justice arenas alone,” Carter said.

Supporting homeless people into a home through funded services saved the WA health system more than $13,000 per person, he said.

“The individual and societal cost of homelessness is unquestionable: more than ever, we need to work together as a community to eliminate homelessness,” said Carter.

There was no silver bullet to ending homelessness, he added.

“It is going to take a wide range of existing, new and innovative responses to end homelessness.

“No matter who you are, we all have a role to play. We can all do something.”

UnitingCare West CEO Amanda Hunt, whose organisation operates 36 community service programs from 17 sites between the Mid-West and the Great Southern, says community empathy is essential in dealing with the issue.

“We are calling for the community to have a compassionate and proactive response to people experiencing homelessness,” says Hunt.

“To remember that all people have a story and that the causes of people experiencing hardship and disadvantage are more likely to be housing affordability, financial hardship or family and domestic violence, than the myths and stereotypes that surround homelessness.”

What’s the plan?

The strategy, which sought input from more than 120 community, government and business organisations, also hopes to build on the existing national Specialist Homelessness Services database to cover all services and not just those funded by government. It aims to help the homeless move to self-reliance and independence, with the most vulnerable populations prioritised.

The strategy calls for a greater focus on external public reporting requirements of outcomes and to ensure that data collection systems includes ‘flags’ for risks associated with homelessness.

It is also hoped to link WA’s Specialist Homelessness Services data with health, justice, housing and other State Government data bases, as well as Commonwealth ones.

The strategy aims to produce a five-year report card in 2023/24, with chronic rough sleeping ended in Perth and regional and remote WA by 2027/28 as well as an overall reduction of 50 per cent or more against current levels.

To donate or to read the Western Australian Homelessness Strategy, visit www.endhomelessnesswa.com

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