The City works with the Department of Communities (the lead department responsible for oversight of the response to homelessness), other state government departments, neighbouring local governments and service providers to meet the needs of people experiencing, or at risk of experiencing homelessness.
The City supports the Housing First Homelessness Initiative coordinated by the Department of Communities in providing accommodation and associated support services for local homeless people with a focus on assisting people sleeping rough in the community.
We are committed to the ongoing monitoring and evaluation of rough sleeping trends to assist with decision-making; increasing the community’s understanding of homelessness and advocating for resources to support local homeless people to improve their overall wellbeing, particularly rough sleepers.
Other City initiatives include:
- Making information on local services and support available and accessible
- Ensuring front-line staff are informed and supported to interact with people experiencing homelessness and, where appropriate, refer them to local services
- Working with Police to support and refer people experiencing homelessness to local services and support
- Providing spaces and places (e.g. community facilities, libraries) that are inclusive and can support vulnerable people.
Definition of homelessness
According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, a person is homeless when they do not have suitable accommodation alternatives and their current living arrangement is in a dwelling that is inadequate, has no tenure (or if their initial tenure is short and not extendable) or does not allow them to have control of, and access to space for social relations.
Types of homelessness
• Persons living in improvised dwellings, tents or sleeping out (rough sleepers)
• Persons in supported accommodation for the homeless
• Persons staying temporarily with other households
• Persons living in board houses
• Persons in other temporary lodgings
• Persons living in severely crowded dwellings.
Why are people homeless?
There is not a single cause of homelessness, but it is rarely a lifestyle choice. Homelessness can be the result of a single event, or a series of small events that slowly lead to homelessness. Some of the main reasons why people are homeless:
• High cost of housing
• Relationship breakdown
• Financial difficulties
• Unemployment, underemployment and insecure employment
• Family and domestic violence
• Poor mental or physical health
• Substance abuse
• Cultural disadvantage (e.g. culturally and linguistic diverse people are at greater risk of becoming homeless).
Homeless people are one of the most vulnerable communities in Australia. They have the same entitlement as every other member of the public to access public places, services and goods, and to participate in public activities or events. Homeless people should be treated respectfully and should be able to access to all the services they require.
Homelessness in the City of South Perth
According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, 116,427 Australians are homeless, 9,022 of which live in Western Australia, and 90 in the City of South Perth. It means that 0.48% of Australians are homeless in a national level, while the Western Australian average is 0.35%, and the City of South Perth’s is 0.21% (ABS, 2016).
Anecdotal evidence from community members and service providers suggests that the number of people who are experiencing homelessness in our community is increasing (End Homelessness WA, 2018). Furthermore, the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic may have accelerated this trend.
The Community’s role in addressing homelessness
Supporting and connected communities are more resilient and could better address and prevent homelessness. Both prevention and response to homelessness needs a whole-of-society approach in which people helping other people is used as a powerful source of change.
What can the community do?
- Treat homeless people with dignity, as homelessness can happen to anyone
- Notify the City’s Community Development Team on 9474 0777, as this will assist us to provide helpful information about support services and it will also provide the City information on the prevalence of homelessness in the local area
- Contact the WA Police on 131 444 if you believe someone may be experiencing a mental health crisis or if you witness anti-social behaviour, intimidation, public disturbance, assault, threats, or alcohol and drugs abuse. Use 000 for life threatening situations
- Consider volunteering at any organisation helping homeless in Western Australian. You can find volunteer vacancies at Volunteering WA
- Consider donating to a charity that provides emergency relief and outreach services for homeless people. This helps to discourage people who are begging. Local streets can be a popular location for people to beg (not all people begging are homeless, and not all people experiencing homelessness will beg), but it is more effective to support established charities who provide emergency relief and assistance
- The Department of Communities' Street to Home Program provides outreach assistance for people sleeping rough through three main organisations:
Ruah Street to Home - 9485 3939
Uniting WA Homeless Response - 0408 987 607
Crossroads Assertive Outreach - 0478 398 760
ERConnect – Developed by Western Australian Council of Social Service (WACOSS), ERConnect contains real time search results of emergency relief services, with phone numbers, operating hours, and directions on the services available in your location.
AskIzzy - Help find the services you need, now and nearby. It is free and anonymous, and you can search over 360,000 services to find housing, meals, healthcare, counselling, legal advice, and more.
Entrypoint Perth – a free assessment and referral service assisting people who are homeless or at risk of homelessness in Western Australia to access accommodation and support options. Call 6496 0001 or 1800 124 684.