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.