Breaking down the barriers
Stakeholders have congregated at Geraldton Lotteries House to tackle homelessness, with some suggesting one barrier to providing assistance is that services don’t meet individual needs, such as male victims of domestic violence, who have children in their care.
Others flagged barriers in Geraldton such as a lack of accommodation for larger families, limited beds, staffing and resources, funding constraints and time-limited support, lack of self-awareness, too many kids going into care and not enough preventative measures, low literacy, transport issues and waiting lists for services.
The workshop was held last Tuesday by Department of Communities representatives, who said local feedback would be incorporated into the State Government’s 10-Year Strategy on Homelessness.
Housing policy manager Emma Colombera said a wealth of feedback was received.
“We had discussions on providing more wrap around care, setting up a one-stop shop for all client needs, and the idea that sometimes we tend to put people into the mould of a service, rather than moulding a service around a person,” she said.
“We discussed the issue of funding and there were suggestions of five or 10-year contracts to give staff certainty and stop churning through the procurement process.
“It was also highlighted that available housing or accommodation doesn’t always meet the needs of larger families or single people.
“Someone brought up the Commonwealth role in welfare and tax, commenting that Centrelink doesn’t give people enough to survive on.
“It was also suggested we need to enable community support, as government can often get in the way and we need it to get out of the way and let funded services do what they do best.”
Service providers took on questions about specific needs locals have in terms of having a safe and secure home, how providers can support people to feel connected to their community and what strategies can be used to help people maintain their independence.
Other questions included what could be implemented that is bigger and bolder than anything before, what could be enacted that is the opposite of what is expected and what service providers would do if there were no rules.
Ms Colombera said many organisations were represented and all brought a different expertise, which will help inform the State’s strategy.
In October, department representatives will travel through regional centres in WA, asking service providers to explain how the State can help alleviate homelessness at a local level, and help the 9000 people who experience homelessness on any given night.
Stakeholders represented at the Geraldton forum included local police, Desert Blue Connect, Mission Australia, MLC Darren West’s office and Sun City Care.
Homelessness Australia says that having no permanent home leaves people vulnerable to long-term unemployment and chronic ill-health.