Uniting to tackle homelessness: Launch of the South Metropolitan Regional Homelessness and Housing Plan

Leaders from across the Southern Metropolitan corridor – spanning Fremantle down to Waroona – came together last Tuesday to launch a joint Homelessness and Housing Plan for the region.  Local partnership Imagined Futures[1] spearheaded the development of the plan.

As in other parts of the State and indeed the rest of Australia, the South Metropolitan region of WA is experiencing record low post-pandemic housing vacancy rates coupled with the challenges driven by increasing inflation and cost of living.

Speaking about the need for a regional plan Chair of the Imagined Futures partnership, Michael Piu said:

“A challenge of the size and complexity of homelessness is beyond the capacity of any single organization to solve.”

“This is precisely why a plan such as this one is needed to guide collective efforts; and why it is heartening to see such wide spread commitment to it. These are both necessary preconditions for achieving success – we all need to be singing from the same song sheet.”

It is fitting then that the Mayors of Cockburn and Fremantle, state parliamentary colleagues, public servants and leaders from the not-for-profit sector joined with Minister McGurk, who launched the plan, to demonstrate their commitment to working together to effectively address the challenge of homelessness.

During the launch Mr. Piu acknowledged the even greater array of people who contributed to the development of the plan.

He said “This plan reflects the expertise and knowledge of many people from all parts of the community. Their collective insights have resulted in an ambitious, yet achievable road map that will be a practical tool for aligning efforts and maximizing resources to benefit those most in need.”

“The launch of this Plan is an exciting milestone of course, but only the start of the journey. I look forward to the important work across communities in the South Metro region that will take the Plan forward.”

[1] Founded in 2014, Imagined Futures is a collective impact partnership auspiced by St Pat’s Community Support Centre. The partnership brings together human service agencies (government and not for profits), businesses, philanthropists, and community members to tackle complex social issues across the south west metropolitan region.

Photo  Lto R: Andrew Geddes, Regional Executive Director, Department of Communities, Michael Piu, Chair of Imagined Futures and CEO of St Patrick’s Community Support Centre, Gerrard Shaw, Local Elder and member of the Leadership Group, Hon Stephen Pratt, MLC, Member for South Metropolitan Region, Mrs. Magenta Marshall, MLA, Member for Rockingham, Hon. Klara Andric, MLC, Member for South Metropolitan Region, Mayor of Fremantle, Hannah Fitzhardinge, Mr. David Scaife, MLA, Member for Cockburn, Minister Simone McGurk MLA, Member for Fremantle, Mayor of Cockburn, Logan Howlett, Leigh Sinclair, Executive Officer, Imagined Futures, Allan Connelly, Co-Chair WA Alliance to End Homelessness

Agencies join forces for homeless support

More than 26 agencies are banding together to call for a focus on effective long-term solutions as the best way to address the complex issues of homelessness and disadvantage.

The Imagined Futures Housing and Homelessness Group, which consists of a range of specialist housing, homelessness and other community services, along with government agencies and sector peak bodies, works collectively in the local community to support a strategic place-based response to ending homelessness.

The group has been coordinating on how best to respond to increasing levels of street present homelessness being experienced in the community, particularly since the COVID-19 pandemic, of which the camp in Pioneer Park in Fremantle is a recent example.

The camp began on Boxing Day as a 24-hour food service but has become a focal point for people in need since then, with an estimated 70 people sleeping at the park.

Imagined Futures Executive Officer Leigh Sinclair and spokesperson for the group thanked the camp volunteers and generous locals who have given their time and donated food and other supplies.

Ms Sinclair said that Imagined Futures members shared the community’s desire for action and solutions which lead to an end to chronic street present homelessness and are keen to work together towards this goal.

“Imagined Futures’ primary concern is to safeguard the wellbeing of people experiencing homelessness.  An important element of this is to ensure they maintain engagement with the services that use proven approaches to help them exit homelessness for good.

“While the camp has provided some greatly appreciated short term support for vulnerable people, a tent camp in a public park is not a viable long-term safe solution.”

“For the generous and caring people who have been supporting the camp, the best thing they can do to help end homelessness is to get behind the work of the range of specialist support services working in the Fremantle community.”

These organisations not only cater to people’s immediate needs such as food, healthcare and showers, but work closely with people to understand the underlying causes of their homelessness and provide them with the tools to break this cycle.

Shelter WA CEO Michelle Mackenzie said tents were not the answer. “WA has a first-class homelessness strategy underpinned by the Housing First model, which prioritises the provision of safe and permanent housing for people experiencing homelessness along with services to address each person’s specific needs. The 50 lives for 50 homes project, centred in housing first, has successfully provided stable long-term housing and service support for hundreds of people who have been living on the streets”.

“I would encourage anybody with an interest to connect with local homelessness services who have professional skills and knowledge and work closely with people with lived experience of homelessness,” she said.

“There are many volunteering opportunities, and volunteers make an enormous impact and change lives.”

Some of the support services which you can volunteer for include St Patrick’s Community Support Centre, the Freo Street Doctor, Red Cross Soup Van, Orange Sky and Cooby Cares.

Assertive outreach workers from support agencies including St Patrick’s Community Support Centre and Wungening Aboriginal Corporation have been actively meeting with camp residents over the past week to understand their individual situations and needs.

In addition to this, a number of Imagined Futures agencies are delivering a series of Housing Pathway Clinics, taking place from 1-2pm every Tuesday (men and women) and Thursday (women only) at St Patrick’s Community Support Centre.

Commencing on Tuesday 19 January, these walk-in sessions will allow people experiencing homelessness to access multiple service providers in the one location, including housing support services, advocacy and immediate support with health, food and amenities.

For more information about the Housing Pathway Clinics, and the range of services available to people experiencing homelessness and disadvantage in Fremantle, please refer to the Fremantle Food and Accommodation Flyer.

Further enquiries

Leigh Sinclair


Imagined Futures partnership delivers on mobile health care and emergency relief for Beaconsfield residents

Beaconsfield residents will soon have access to mobile medical care and emergency food relief among other social services, thanks to a new initiative from Imagined Futures.

Imagined Futures Executive Officer Leigh Sinclair said Freo Street Doctor, provided by Black Swan Health, and Red Cross vans would visit Davis Park located in central Beaconsfield once a fortnight from Friday next week, as part of the Imagined Futures partnership’s goal to connect residents in social housing to services.

Ms Sinclair said residents had reported experiencing complex challenges in the neighbourhood, which is made up of 97% social housing properties.

She said the Imagined Futures partnership recognised that no one organisation could resolve social issues facing sections of the community and brought together organisations across Fremantle, Cockburn and Melville to provide opportunities for residents to reach their full potential and engage more fully in all areas of life and living.

“The Street Doctor and Red Cross project from Imagined Futures is just one of the ways that the partnership is reaching out to the community in the Davis Park precinct,” Ms Sinclair said.

“We are delighted to begin offering Street Doctor and Red Cross services for residents, who often lack transport to reach these crucial services.”

Ms Sinclair said trial visits by the Street Doctor had already highlighted the need for effective mobile medical care in the precinct, after effectively saving the life of a much-loved father.

She said Davis Park resident Corey Brown sought assistance from the Street Doctor earlier this month, at his partner Angie Jenkins’ encouragement.

“Unbeknown to him, Mr Brown was suffering from an acute medical condition,” Ms Sinclair said.

“The Street Doctor on duty referred him immediately to the emergency ward at Fiona Stanley Hospital, who told Mr Brown he may not have survived the night had he not sought treatment that day.

“These are the types of cases that may have been missed were it not for this fantastic new project.”

Black Swan Health chief executive Terina Grace said she looked forward to working with Imagined Futures towards better health outcomes for Davis Park residents.

She said more than 90% of Freo Street Doctor clients relied on the service as their primary healthcare provider.

“The service aims to care for those members of our community who for many reasons may not access mainstream general practice,” Ms Grace said.

Chair of Imagined Futures and St Patrick’s Community Support Centre Chief Executive Officer Michael Piu, said he was delighted to see the establishment of this new initiative, particularly because it further complements other work occurring in the region including the St Patrick’s Doorstep Dinners program.

“St Pat’s is proud the Doorstep Dinner program has been so well received in the Davis Park precinct and having the Freo Street Doctor and Red Cross vans in the Park means that residents have access to an even greater range of services,” Mr PIu said.

The Freo Street Doctor will visit Davis Park in Beaconsfield once a fortnight between 11am to 2pm, from Friday 4 September. The service is available to anyone who is experiencing hardship and unable to access a mainstream GP.

Red Cross will also be on site to distribute food hampers.

Imagined Futures – Davis Park is provided by St Patrick’s Community Support Centre Inc and funded by the State Government through the Department of Communities.