‘Where can I get a hot shower?’: Facility provides dignity for Mandurah’s most vulnerable community members

The tale of a homeless Mandurah family spending each night on a train running to and from Perth, all for a shower would touch the hearts of many across the state.

It was that young family’s direr situation that spurred West Aus Crisis executive officer Lynn Rodgers to push for a community shower block. 

Seven years into her advocacy, the East Ward councillor can finally breathe a sigh of relief.

A new facility, located along Tuart Avenue in central Mandurah, has opened its doors and is ready to provide a safe space for homeless people to have a warm shower and get changed on a regular basis.

At an event to officially open the communal space on October 12, Cr Rodgers fought back tears when thanking everyone who made the dream come to fruition. 

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Battling the cold in winter is tough for most people but significantly amplified for those sleeping rough on the streets.

Mr Rodgers said it was during those tough months that West Aus Crisis copped continued calls asking the same question. 

“Where can I get a hot shower?”

After looking into the issues, Mr Rodgers said “there was nowhere”.

“[It’s] something we take for granted every day. We’ve got shelter and we can get up and have a hot shower. A lot of people out there can’t do that,” she said. 

“We live in Australia this should not be happening in this country.

“I don’t know how we fix it but all we can do is band together and try.”   

She spoke again about the young family that inspired her to put pressure on relevant stakeholders to get the facility up and running.  

“There was a mum and she had a school-aged child,” she said. 

“She used to ride the train at night into Perth, into Wellington Street. She made sure she ended up at Wellington Street so she could then give her son a shower and wash his school clothes for the next day.

“Then she would go all the way back to Mandurah. 

“Really that’s what drove me to [advocate] for these showers. 

“For all the programs we run is to give people back some self-respect and dignity.” 

One of the free shower facilities at the Tuart Avenue Hub. Photo: Caitlyn Rintoul.

One of the free shower facilities at the Tuart Avenue Hub. Photo: Caitlyn Rintoul.

Mandurah mayor Rhys Williams congratulated everyone involved in bringing the service to life. 

“One of the things I’m most proud of being from this community is that we all have big hearts,” he said. 

He said the people of Mandurah had a commitment to “making sure people don’t get left behind”.

“This project is a really good example of that,” he said. 

“Instead of passing the buck and blaming people, we step up and help.”

While Mr Williams said it was great the service could now be provided he revealed his desire for Mandurah not to need a similar space in the future. 

We live in Australia. This should not be happening in this country. I don’t know how we fix it but all we can do is band together and try.

West Aus Crisis executive officer and East Ward councillor Lynn Rodgers

“It’s also worth our time looking back at why we need a space like this,” he said. 

“Our role as leaders is to make sure these places aren’t needed. [We] hope to make this place redundant.”

Mandurah MP David Templeman also spoke at the event. 

He thanked the collaborative effort to make the project possible, particularly highlighting Cr Rodgers commitment. He even went as far to label her as an “urban warrior” for the cause.

Along with Mr Williams, Mr Templeman and Cr Rodgers were Coastal Ward councillors Merv Darcy and Fred Riebeling, Dawesville MP Zak Kirkup and deputy mayor Caroline Knight.

Follow Caitlyn Rintoul on Twitter via @caitlynrintoul.

NEED TO KNOW:

The showers are located at 2 Tuart Avenue and are currently open between 9am and 12pm on Wednesdays and Fridays. 

Times will change depending on demand. 

For more information on the service contact coordinator Kerrie Overell via kerrieo@iinet.net.au on call West Aus Crisis via 95829920.