Councils seeking Common Ground
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.