HOMELESSNESS is not an issue Mandurah can afford to ignore; that’s the message being pushed this Homeless Persons’ Week.
With almost 20 per cent of homeless people put in their situation because they couldn’t find affordable or approprivate accommodation, this week’s event aimed to raise awareness of the critical shortage of affordable housing in Western Australia.
In Mandurah, the Reach Out Drop In Centre has recorded up to 15 new people a week needing help.
“We see up to 130 people in a week,” Reach Out Drop In Centre coordinator Nikki Wise said. “But I think what’s interesting is the number of new people we see in a week.
“[Homeless Persons’ Week] highlights the fact that there is a problem in Mandurah which is a start.”
The public housing wait list has increased by more than 80 per cent in the last decade with the average wait time 144 weeks; almost three years.
Over the past decade, increases in private rental costs has overtaken the increase in average weekly earnings and minimum wage, meaning a household on minimum wage renting at the median price would spend 70 per cent of their income on housing. Last year an Australian Institute of Health and Welfare report found one in five homeless people seeking assistance in Australia were turned away from vital, emergency accommodation services.
“This really speaks to the level of demand and lack of funding that the sector faces,” Youth Off the Streets chief executive Father Chris Riley said.
“Tragically services are always in high demand and we need funding to continue their operation.”
With the Government’s proposed changes to Centrelink, Ms Wise said the problem will just get worse.
If the changes are accepted, it would require job seekers to apply for 40 jobs in 30 days and complete 25 hours of community service a week.
“A lot of people come in saying it’s unrealistic,” Ms Wise said.
“It’s almost two jobs a day they have to apply for.
“And I would say it would put more pressure on organisations like us that have no government funding and no ongoing funding.”
Reach Out Drop In Centre is having an open day on August 30 from 10am-2pm at the Sutton Street Hall to help raise awareness for the organisation and in particular the group’s need for a storage unit.
The day will include a free barbecue and a free bouncy castle from Beardy’s Bouncy Castles.