Tom Fisher House: support facility named in honour of late Vinnies stalwart

Premier Colin Barnett with Shirley Fisher. Picture: Joondalup Photo Design
Premier Colin Barnett with Shirley Fisher. Picture: Joondalup Photo Design

PERTH has a new shelter for homeless men, named after St Vincent de Paul legend Tom Fisher.

Tom Fisher House opened on Tuesday on Beaufort Street, acknowledging decades of service the late Mr Fisher provided to the community.

Premier Colin Barnett opened the centre alongside Shirley Fisher, widow of Mr Fisher.

MORE: Tributes for ‘selfless gentleman’ Tom Fisher.

St Vincent de Paul Society chief executive Mark Fitzpatrick said it was fitting the service be named after Mr Fisher, “because it will continue offering the same compassion, support and hope Tom offered to so many during his time with the charity”.

“Sadly Tom Fisher passed away on June 4 this year, aged 95, and will miss today’s official opening, however we are pleased he was able to tour the site as it was being constructed,” he said.

“Tom was so chuffed to learn that such a wonderful service would be named in his honour. It is a living testament to his life of kindness and generosity to the community he served so selflessly.”

Mr Fisher OAM began working for the Society in 1960, holding the positions of regional president, vice president and state president in Western Australia.

He served on the Society’s National Council for five years, and played a vital role in opening one of the Society’s first services for men experiencing homelessness.

Tom Fisher House, which previously operated in an interim location, will provide a safe sleeping place for up to 12 people – including couples – for up to seven nights for long-term rough sleepers; along with access to meals, clothing and bedding, medical assistance, and referrals to drug /alcohol counselling, mental health care and other support services.

The centre is part of the Street to Home Program. Referrals come from other agencies including the Nyoongar Patrol, Aboriginal Drug and Alcohol Service, and WA Police.

The project had its roots in a meeting between Premer Colin Barnett and then Archbishop Barry Hickey and other church leaders in 2010.

The Housing Authority contributed $4 million towards the land and capital works, with the Department for Child Protection and Family Support funding the operation of the service with a $1.4 million investment for three years.

Mr Barnett said Tom Fisher House is “an example of the State Government working in partnership with community organisations such as the St Vincent de Paul Society to support those in need”.

“The facility will provide much-needed secure crisis accommodation to people who would otherwise be sleeping on the streets,” he said.