Homeless support backed

Holly ThompsonSound Telegraph
Cr Hayley Edwards put the motion to council at the June 23 meeting.
Camera IconCr Hayley Edwards put the motion to council at the June 23 meeting. Credit: Supplied

Those experiencing homelessness around Rockingham could benefit from increased services such as mobile showers and new storage options, after council agreed to look into both at last month’s meeting.

The motion, bought forward by councillor Hayley Edwards, will see the installation of a storage solution for the homeless investigated.

The motion also directed chief executive Michael Parker to explore a suitable location and storage model, undertake community consultation and report the findings in October.

Cr Edwards said the need for such services was great and it was council’s responsibility to assist the homeless community.

“Many street present people transition through Rockingham, many travelling from Mandurah to Rockingham, Kwinana and Fremantle,” she said.

“Providing a storage solution for street present people to lock up their belongings, swags, sleeping bags during the day to access service providers is a small practical step to helping people seek assistance and transition to accommodation.

“Currently, we have no storage solution available for people sleeping rough, this is a huge physical obstacle, many not wanting to leave their only belongings to access assistance.

“Ideally lockers should be located near public transport and near service providers and wrap around services.”

Cr Edwards also asked for the council to consider installing a permanent shower with hot water, but this request was not supported.

The alternate option was to work with existing providers of showers and laundry services, including mobile providers, to extend their service provision.

Cr Edwards said while this was a “sensible alternative,” the services would need to expand to cover each day of the week and include early mornings.

“It will only be a solution if the service providers can extend the operating hours to early mornings, and seven days per week, in my opinion,” she said.

“The current service providers are reportedly at their limits at present, most people sleeping rough in Rockingham miss opportunities to access these services due to restricted hours, distance and logistics. We need to make it easier for community to access basic essential services.

“Everyone should be able to access a shower in our City every day, 365 days per year.”

City officers will conduct investigations into potential locations and will assess risks, costings, best practice and management processes of the lockers along with providing examples of other municipality's around Australia who have installed lockers or alternative storage solutions successfully.

“Hopefully after October, when the officers present ideas for storage solutions, we will also have any arrangements for extended hours with service providers presented to council for approval and community consultation,” Cr Edwards said.

She said support for this initiative had so far been overwhelmingly positive.

“Rockingham has one of the largest unemployment rates, now we are in the middle of a pandemic, sleeping on the street is a real possibility for so many individuals and families, many only a pay cheque away from being on the street,” she said.

“Homelessness can happen to anyone, it is nothing to be ashamed of, we can help.”

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