Maylands Commercial Centre owners install fence to prevent homeless people from camping


The fence installed at the back of Maylands Commercial Centre.
The fence installed at the back of Maylands Commercial Centre.

MAYLANDS Commercial Centre property owners have installed a $4000 fence at the back of the complex to prevent homeless people from camping there.

The fence was erected on January 29 and followed the installation of steel bars worth $60,000 at the underground carpark.

Maylands resident David Taylor, who owned a property at the centre on Guildford Road, said a group of up to eight people started living at the centre’s old loading block with mattresses and suitcases in September, but homelessness had been an issue for 10 years.

“I have had circumstances when homeless have walked into hallways of the offices,” he said.

“They have gone into other offices, rifled through people’s handbags… they have sat in the hallways, eating food and drinking.”

Mr Taylor, who sent an email about his concerns to the City of Bayswater, Maylands MLA Lisa Baker and Police Minister Michelle Roberts on December 29, said the City and WA Police had not done anything to solve the issue despite continued reports made by him and residents.

Nyoongar Outreach Services chief executive Maria McAtackney said her staff went to the area twice a week to provide support to the homeless, some of whom had been evicted from their own accommodation or released from prison.

“We know someone had been released from prison and we have got other ones that are from the north, like the Pilbara,” she said.

“Then from time to time, you would have the Nyoongar (people) and there is an African guy there that has been homeless for a very long time.

“It was a situation where it was starting to get a bit out of control and the numbers of people who got away with it, had other people joining them as well which made the group a bit bigger.”

Ms McAtackney said people remained in different spots in the Maylands area.

“Firstly, it feels safer because there is more light there and people are not scared to be sleeping in the dark,” she said.

“They will make it their place to sleep at night time and they will pack it up and come back at night.”

Ms McAtackney said although her organisation helped homeless people apply for housing, often they did not obtain enough documents to complete applications.

“We are always willing to support people but we have got to get the message out that people need to work with service providers, not just with us,” she said.

Bayswater Police officer-in-charge John Waghorn said they were aware of the issue but received complaints from a third or fourth party and not from business owners.

“The local police want to engage with affected business operators to deal with the issue but those business operators need to lodge a complaint with police to give us the authority to intervene on their behalf,” he said.

“If they lodged a complaint on behalf of themselves and their business, we will happily embed ourselves in those issues, take their complaint and we will investigate them but I just can’t do it off my own back.”

Bayswater Mayor Dan Bull said the City was aware of the situation and its rangers conducted regular patrols.

“Although we do try to assist wherever we can, the City’s rangers do not have the authority to enter private property and ask people to leave,” he said.

“While unfortunately local governments are not resourced to deal with homelessness, which is a big issue for all major cities, that doesn’t mean that we bury our heads in the sand and hope the problem just goes away.

“The City of Bayswater is in regular discussion with State Government agencies that are responsible for helping the homeless and other key stakeholders to explore what can be done.

“We have developed a resource pack that our rangers can provide to homeless people.”

Department of Communities acting assistant director general (Housing) Peter Lonsdale said the regional office responsible for Maylands had no contact with the centre and was unaware of the problem.

“The region’s Aboriginal Customer Service Officer has contacted the Nyoongar Outreach Centre to understand the circumstances of the people involved,” he said.

“At December 31 2017, there were 14,414 applications for public housing in Western Australia, of which 1396 were priority listed.

“The department also offers bond loans to help applicants access private rental accommodation, along with referrals to other agencies and community housing organisations.”

Maylands MLA Lisa Baker said homelessness and anti-social behaviour had been issues in Maylands and she regularly met with service providers, community groups, Bayswater Police and councillors to look for solutions.

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