Amnesty International member Tresna Shorter has a bone to pick with the state government on the critical shortage of emergency housing or shelter for men facing homelessness in Bunbury.
Ms Shorter said it was “incredible” Bunbury wasn’t equipped with a shelter for men and it is a disgrace to have sick and injured men sleeping in cars, parks, under bridges and at the cemetery.
Ms Shorter recently received a letter from Mental Health Commissioner Timothy Marney who said work had commenced to develop an accommodation and support strategy over the next 10 years.
South West MLC Adele Farina said Bunbury needed a funding commitment, not an unfunded accommodation strategy, from the state government to deliver much-needed emergency housing as a matter of urgency.
“Yanget House provided emergency housing for up to 19 males in Bunbury until 2010 when a decision was made by the Barnett government to demolish the building and replace it with a facility providing affordable social housing for men and women,” Ms Farina said.
“This decision, while delivering much needed social housing, significantly reduced the available emergency housing in Bunbury, especially for men.
“The failure of the Barnett government to replace the emergency housing for men lost as a result of the closure of Yanget House is a disgrace.”
Minister for mental health Andrea Mitchell said the state government was constantly monitoring demand for homelessness services and was committed to looking for new and innovative strategies to combat homelessness.
“Over the next 18 months, a review of all homelessness programs and services will be conducted to further build and strengthen the current initiatives and consider what changes may be required for a new service system that will meet local needs,” Ms Mitchell said.
Bunbury Salvation Army Lieutenant Harriet Farquhar said the organisation’s resources were stretched and she was unable to meet 24 requests for crisis accommodation through their Doorways Program between July 1 and September 30.
Lieutenant Farquhar said the growth rate of community infrastructure and health services hadn’t kept up with the demands of Bunbury’s population.
She said building a shelter was only part of the solution.
“To tackle homelessness, we need more than just a shelter, we need more community housing, the sub-acute mental health facility we were promised and collectively these things can work to create change,” she said.
“When people encounter the system for the first time, it’s incredibly difficult to navigate because the services are fragmented and you’ve got to be quite dogged and that’s when you get people slipping through the cracks.”
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