Homelessness tackled in Esperance and statewide

Esperance Crisis Accommodation Service coordinator Christine Smith. Photo: Jake Dietsch.
Esperance Crisis Accommodation Service coordinator Christine Smith. Photo: Jake Dietsch.

“It’s a cycle, I've got grandchildren and children of people that were here 25 years ago.”

Esperance Crisis Accommodation Service coordinator Christine Smith said the service accommodated 127 people from the start of January 2018 to the end of June 2018.

With Homelessness Week being held across Australia from August 6 to 12, the need to address the various causes and types of homelessness is being stressed. 

Ms Smith said the length of stays ranged between one night and three months at the service.

In addition to those accommodated, the service had also assisted people in finding accommodation elsewhere. 

Ms Smith said homelessness was increasing and the types of homelessness had expanded.

She said factors contributing to the issue of homelessness included financial strains, addiction and family violence.

“The media often focus on the homeless with stories and photos of rough sleepers and people begging in the streets,” Ms Smith said.

“It is a form of homelessness that people are suffering, but the biggest problem is people not in view of the community.

“There are more people that are not sleeping on the street but they are needing crisis accommodation.

“They may be couch sleeping or on a spare bed with no security and they’re not able to control the space they live in.

“Without the media interest these serious issues of homelessness can be ignored or forgotten by those not affected by it.”

Crisis Accommodation support worker Cylie Smith-Ryan said the length people stay at the accommodation had been getting longer.

“We are helping a lot of people but because they can’t get back into homes they’re having to stay here longer,” she said. 

Community Services Minister Simone McGurk said the state government provided funding of around $85 million a year for specialist homelessness services in WA, including more than $570,000 a year to service providers in Esperance.

“Homelessness is not an issue confined to the metropolitan area, nor is it confined to WA,” the minister said.

“It’s an issue in every jurisdiction across Australia.”

The minister announced the development of a 10-Year Strategy on Homelessness this Homelessness Week.

“The strategy will consider first-hand accounts of how individuals coped with homelessness and how organisations responded to their needs,” she said.

“It will look at the issue across the whole state, including whether there are gaps in services or locations that need to be filled.”

The strategy is also expected to examine homelessness in a broader context taking into account factors such as health, mental health, education and justice to ensure a coordinated approach to ending homelessness. 

Roe MLA Peter Rundle said addiction and family breakdown contributed to the issue of homelessness. 

“We’ve got drug issues right around the Roe electorate, the breakdown of the family unit contributes as well,” he said. 

“Whatever we can do to try to help families support each other and stay together is really important.”