Homelessness week each year aims to shine a spotlight on issues faced by people experiencing homelessness. It is a time to talk about the actions we need to take to bring about positive change and an end to homelessness.

Homelessness is a complex issue that can impact on anyone and, this year, we recognise that the COVID-19 pandemic has bought about new challenges. As Western Australia moves toward the recovery period, the economic impact of the pandemic makes it even more important for us to work together to plan and address the issues that can lead to someone living without a home. The conditions created by the COVID-19 pandemic have prompted us to adapt to ensure support is available for Western Australians.

It is estimated that over 9,000 Western Australians experience homelessness every night, a third of whom are Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander people. The theme for Homelessness Week 2020, running from 2–8 August, is ‘Everybody needs a home’. The program run by Shelter WA, with funding by the Department of Communities, has a particular focus on Aboriginal homelessness.

In December 2019, the Department of Communities released the All Paths Lead to a Home: Western Australia’s 10-Year Strategy on Homelessness.

The Strategy is a whole-of-community plan for reducing homelessness and ending rough sleeping in WA.

Today, the first five-year Action Plan accompanying the 10-year homelessness strategy has been released.

The Action Plan targets four priority areas, one of which is improving Aboriginal wellbeing. The other three priority areas are providing safe, secure and stable homes; preventing homelessness; and strengthening and coordinating our responses and impact.

Alongside the release of the Strategy in December last year the State Government announced a record $71.7m funding boost for homelessness services. This includes:

  • $35 million for the planning, design and construction of two Common Ground facilities that will provide permanent, supported housing for people who are sleeping rough or experiencing chronic homelessness.
  • $34.5 million for the Housing First Homelessness Initiative (including rental subsidies), which aims to provide stable housing and support to 170 individuals or families a year across Perth, Rockingham, Mandurah, Bunbury and Geraldton.
  • $2.3 million for the development of an Online Homelessness Information Portal to improve the accessibility and visibility of services.

Staff from across Communities are working hard on the delivery of these commitments. Planning and engagement with the sector for the delivery of the Common Ground facilities and the procurement of services under the Housing First Homelessness Initiative has begun, with the site for the first Common Ground facility on the corner of Hill Street and Wellington Street announced in July.

In July 2020, the Department of Communities also released a blueprint for a No Wrong Door system. The No Wrong Door Blueprint was co-designed over six months with the community sector, service providers and people with lived experience, with the online portal being a key feature of this co-design process.

Each year the Department of Communities spends approximately $93m on a range of specialist homelessness services that assist people who are homeless or at risk.

To find out more about the 10-Year Strategy on Homelessness and Action Plan, go to https://www.communities.wa.gov.au/homelessness-strategy.

As part of the consultation during the development of the 10-Year Homelessness Strategy, a collection of stories from people who have experienced homelessness was released. When there is no place to call home is available on the Communities website.  

To find out more or to attend an event during Homelessness Week 2020 visit Shelter WA’s website.