Homelessness Week shines light on issue

Working towards zero homelessness: Bunbury Street Chaplains director Tim Wheeldon, Bunbury MLA Don Punch and Shelter WA vice chair Neil Hamilton.
Working towards zero homelessness: Bunbury Street Chaplains director Tim Wheeldon, Bunbury MLA Don Punch and Shelter WA vice chair Neil Hamilton.

Celebrated from August 6 to 12, Homelessness Week helps to raise awareness of the issues and its impacts.

Bunbury Street Chaplains director Tim Wheeldon is calling for human compassion during this week and always, as a way to work with those who find themselves out in the cold. 

“It’s a skill to see who is under the weather and who is in the weather,” he said.

Mr Wheeldon has also been running a weekly Sunday breakfast at The Vineyard Christian Church for the past four years, born out of a need he could see within the community. 

“My concern is it’s going to get worse not better – there are people in need right now ,” he said.

Shelter WA vice chair and former Accordwest chief executive Neil Hamilton said leaders and service providers needed to work towards zero homelessness. 

“Homelessness is not just the people we see on the streets, it takes many forms,” he said. 

“We know there are a significant number of people within the South West region who are homeless.

“We need to move beyond managing homelessness to getting rid of homelessness and that’s where I think the debate needs to be heading.”

City of Bunbury Mayor Gary Brennan said it was a multifaceted issue requiring a multiagency response. 

“We are happy to sit at the table with discussions on how best to tackle the issue however as a council we will not be taking the lead as we feel there are relevant agencies better suited to take on that role,” he said.

Bunbury MLA Don Punch said it wasn’t something that could be fixed simply with a complex set of reasons attached to why people become homeless. 

“I think we do have a problem in terms of being able to accommodate people who are on the streets and it’s going to be a challenge to help get that sorted out,” he said.