Homelessness is a complex social issue with underlying, interrelated factors such as the lack of low-cost housing, family breakdown, addiction and insufficient mental services1. So addressing the various underlying causes takes a coordinated approach across government, community and not-for-profit groups, volunteers and businesses.
In WA, the lead agency for addressing homelessness and coordinating stakeholder actions is the State Government’s Department of Communities.
The diagram ‘The various roles in reducing homelessness’, as adapted from the Department’s All Paths Lead to a Home: Western Australia’s 10 Year Strategy on Homelessness (2020-2030) illustrates the different stakeholders and the roles they play.
The City of Perth’s Homelessness Action Plan 2022-2024, endorsed by Council on 26 July 2022, can be found here.
The various roles in reducing homelessness
- Department for Communities (DoC) is the lead agency for homelessness in WA (particularly DoC’s sub-departments: the Office of Homelessness and the Housing Authority)
- Other state departments that intersect with homelessness, such as the Departments of: Justice, Education and Health (physical and mental health services) and WA Police
Local Government (City of Perth)
- Make information on local services and supports available and accessible
- Ensure front-line staff are informed and supported to interact with people experiencing homelessness and, where appropriate, refer them to local services
Community Services Sector
- Service design, delivery of homelessness services and advocacy
Community and volunteers
- Developing and delivering specialist homelessness services
- Working with government to better design and deliver services in partnership
Private business and philanthropy
- Increasing the overall resources available
- Creating opportunities for innovation
- Responsible for: welfare and income support systems, immigration, housing market and tax system incentives/disincentives
- Contributes funds to the homelessness sector through the National Housing and Homelessness Agreement
People who are, or at risk of, being homeless
- As people with lived experience of the vulnerability of rough sleeping or homelessness, these individuals have a unique contribution to understanding service delivery (the benefits and the opportunities for improvement)
- Advocacy and peer support
Who to contact
It is important to inform the correct authority, so the specific matter can be addressed, where:
- Information on how the City of Perth is assisting homelessness and where local government fits into the overall architecture of homelessness can be sought via firstname.lastname@example.org or 9461 3333
- Littering and blocking walkways or thoroughfares (including blocking via begging) - to be reported to the City of Perth on 9461 3333 and assisted by the Rangers.
- Cleanliness, urination and smells – to be reported to the City of Perth on 9461 3333 and assisted by Waste and Cleansing (noting public urination is an offence and if witnessed, is a WA Police matter).
- Anti-social behaviour, alcohol and drugs, intimidation, public disturbance, appearance of mental health, assault or threats – to be reported to WA Police on 131 444 or 000 for emergencies. (You can also report matters anonymously via Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or seek assistance from City Watch Surveillance Centre on 9461 6611 or 9461 6666 for emergencies).
- Volunteerism, community goodwill, donations and other pathways to help – to contact peak bodies Volunteering WA, WACOSS, Shelter WA or a not-for-profit organisation.
1. Mago, V.K., Morden, H.K., Fritz, C., Wu, T., Namazi, S., Geranmayeh, P, Chattopadhyay, R., and Daddaghian, V., 2013. Analyzing the impact of social factors on homelessness: a Fuzzy Cognitive Map approach. BMC Med Inform Decision Making, 13(94). doi: 10.1186/1472-6947-13-94
2. Department for Communities (2020). All Paths Lead to a Home: Western Australia’s 10-Year Strategy on Homelessness 2020-2030
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