Opinion: Tackling homelessness in Mandurah is a complex issue

I have met a handful of people recently in the lead up to National Homelessness Week 2018, including youth workers, volunteers and people living on the streets.

Photo: Shutterstock.

Photo: Shutterstock.

I did not know, before meeting up with Pat Thomas House executive officer Jill Robinson, that displacement after being in a domestic violence relationship was so common.

Ms Robinson said about 800 women phoned the centre in one month and there were only six rooms for women and their children to seek refuge. This means they were usually left to couch surf, which is concerning.

This week, Shelter WA vice chair Neil Hamilton said leaders and service providers needed to work towards zero homelessness.

We need to move beyond managing homelessness to getting rid of homelessness and thats where I think the debate needs to be heading, he said.

Do you think this is possible?

“There is a large number of homeless people in Mandurah, and the service providers feel there is never enough funding heading their way.”

What I know is there is a large number of homeless people in Mandurah and the service providers feel there is never enough funding heading their way.

Peel Passages youth worker Jade Gillespie is one of the many people in town who try to break down homeless stereotypes.

She said there were dozens of hidden homeless people in Mandurah, who led fairly normal lives, but lived out of their cars. Ms Gillespie said they categorised homelessness in three levels, being primary secondary and tertiary.

Homelessness does not just look like the old man on the street in rags...it is not always as identifiable as people perceive it to be, she said. Primary could be car dwelling, sleeping on the beach or at the foreshore. Secondary is couch surfing, living in crisis accommodation or at a refuge.

Lastly, tertiary could be living in a private rental or at home but still needing support to not become homeless.

Visiting the Peel Community Soup Kitchen this week, I saw for myself that homelessness presented itself in different ways.

If you feel compelled to volunteer to any local organisations, or donate goods or food, I am sure it would be much appreciated.