Coun­cils seek­ing Com­mon Ground

Fremantle Gazette - - NEWS - Jake Dietsch and Adam Poulsen

FRE­MAN­TLE Mayor Brad Pet­titt has wel­comed the port city be­ing short­listed as a site for Perth’s sec­ond Com­mon Ground fa­cil­ity, say­ing Fre­man­tle’s grow­ing home­less­ness prob­lem must be “ur­gently” ad­dressed.

The State Gov­ern­ment has pledged fund­ing for two Com­mon Ground fa­cil­i­ties, which house and sup­port peo­ple sleep­ing rough and link them to ser­vices.

One of the fa­cil­i­ties will be built in East Perth, but Com­mu­nity Ser­vices Min­is­ter Si­mone McGurk re­vealed re­cently the se­lec­tion of the site of the sec­ond was down to Fre­man­tle, Man­durah and Stir­ling.

Ms McGurk told Par­lia­ment an op­tion pa­per from the De­part­ment of Com­mu­ni­ties had short­listed the three lo­cal gov­ern­ments.

With con­ver­sa­tions with the De­part­ment of Com­mu­ni­ties un­der way this month, Mr Pet­titt told the Gazette he would be push­ing for Fre­man­tle to be picked over the other two fi­nal­ists.

“Fre­man­tle has seen a growth in the num­bers of home­less peo­ple post

COVID and we strongly be­lieve there needs to be fuller in­vest­ment in ad­dress­ing this as a mat­ter of ur­gency,” he said. “The City of Fre­man­tle has met with the De­part­ment of Com­mu­ni­ties and oth­ers about this and ex­pressed our sup­port for a fa­cil­ity of the right size in Fre­man­tle.

“We made the point that there needs to be more than one of these im­por­tant fa­cil­i­ties out­side the Perth CBD and we would be will­ing to work with the State Gov­ern­ment and ser­vice providers to see how we might get the right spread of ser­vices.

“Ideally, hav­ing qual­ity ser­vices in the com­mu­ni­ties in which home­less peo­ple al­ready live is the way to go, rather than just cre­at­ing a con­cen­tra­tion in one or two ar­eas.”

Fre­man­tle will have some tough com­pe­ti­tion to se­cure the fa­cil­ity how­ever, with Man­durah Mayor Rhys Wil­liams telling their re­gion’s lo­cal news­pa­per the Coastal Times that he too would be “push­ing very hard”.

Mr Wil­liams said with a fa­cil­ity set for the Perth CBD that Stir­ling and Fre­man­tle could both ben­e­fit from, Man­durah was an im­por­tant choice be­cause it “sits sep­a­rately to those ar­eas”.

“It’s the largest re­gional city in Western Aus­tralia,” he said. “The data clearly pro­vides the ev­i­dence for why Man­durah is the best place for it to hap­pen.”

The City of Man­durah cited a home­less­ness street count of peo­ple sleep­ing rough, led by the City of Perth, which found 84 rough sleep­ers in Man­durah com­pared to 43 in Fre­man­tle. The City of Stir­ling did not par­tic­i­pate.

Ms McGurk said the three cities were cho­sen based on data from the 2016 cen­sus.

She said the De­part­ment was en­gag­ing with the three coun­cils to ob­tain the lat­est rough sleeper data.

Brad Pet­titt

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