Homelessness rates continue to skyrocket in Australia and abroad. Indeed, many every day Australians are suffering from mortgage stress and high rents, making housing affordability and lack of ‘stock’ for public housing a big issue.
Government departments have until now opted to ‘fix’ the issue with heartless and inhumane solutions, such as the sprinkler system installed at the King Street Arts Centre (Perth) to drench and deter homeless people from sleeping on the brick paving in the middle of Winter. Violence and sexual predation are genuine dangers for the homeless, as they are forced to move from squat to park to alleyway.
Before we help ourselves any further, shouldn’t we first help the homeless?
Matargarup at Heirisson Island in Perth is providing a safe space and sheltering scores of homeless, yet the camp has been raided nine times in four months (over Winter) by the City of Perth shire and their police escort. Each raid has stranded families, toddlers, babies, the elderly without any shelter or essentials, and without the safe space that they have come to know. The City is currently in possession of roughly 200 tents and of all the essentials that the homeless used. With few homeless programs (closed on weekends) and a massive shortage in crisis accommodation, it is clear our fellow humans are in dire need of assistance, and a solution is well overdue.
Advocates for the homeless, Gerry Georgatos and Jennifer Kaeshagen say homeless friendly precincts must be established across the board as a minimum standard in response to homelessness – and I support this idea. A homeless friendly precinct provides a safe space we can meet again and again; a reference point for various services to wraparound the homeless and assist more easily. A groundswell of support is lending hope to the establishment of homeless friendly precincts, and we ask for your help in pushing them across the line. Gerry says:
“Homeless friendly precincts are in the least a few hundred square metres of showers, laundries, small storage facilities, a treatment area, safe space, even an area where services can attend; something as simple as a rostered barber. I have spent more than 20 years assisting the homeless and there is the recurring cry, ‘I just want to shower daily, wash up, feel clean, somewhere to store my stuff…’ This is the most basic sliver of dignity we can provide. Psychosocially it’ll make a significant difference.”
Mayors from various jurisdictions of Perth (City of Wanneroo Mayor Tracey Roberts, City of Fremantle Mayor Brad Pettitt and City of Perth Lord Mayor Lisa Scaffidi) and Shelter South Australia Director, Dr Alice Clark have pledged their support. Will you please join them?
It’s time for homeless friendly precincts. Safe spaces where people experiencing homelessness can go to 24/7, no waiting lists, no questions asked, with people’s privacy and sensitivities respected; places where the compassionate public can drop off donations to. Places designated, designed for people experiencing homelessness, places they will not be moved on from, shamed. Places that belong to them.
Homeless friendly precincts have the power and potential to change and save many lives. Homeless people need our help. Isn’t it time we restored their dignity and lent a hand to help?
Please sign the petition below. In doing so, GFM will email the following people on your behalf with just one click!
- Mayor Lisa Scaffidi (City of Perth)
- Mayor Brad Pettitt (City of Fremantle)
- Mayor Tracey Roberts (City of Wanneroo)
- Mayor Martin Haese (City of Adelaide)
- Barry Sammels (City of Rockingham)
- Henry Zelones (City of Armadale)
- Charlie Zannino (City of Swan)
- Troy Pickard (City of Joondalup)
- Shire President Graeme Campbell (Shire of Broome)