We Are One: Kwinana helpers share common goal to improve life for others


Kwinana Mayor Carol Adams with We Are One founders Freedom and Tihema Tapene, outreach consultant Ma Rollo and Kwinana Council engagement officer Molly Titoko.
Kwinana Mayor Carol Adams with We Are One founders Freedom and Tihema Tapene, outreach consultant Ma Rollo and Kwinana Council engagement officer Molly Titoko.

WE Are One, the Kwinana-based charity for the homeless, will be holding a sleepout next week to help raise awareness of the plight facing the homeless.

The event, which begins at 4pm on Friday, August 5, will run through to 9am the following morning with bands and art viewings as well as a range of services and free dinner and breakfast.

Freedom Patene founded We Are One with her partner Tihema, and the pair know all too well the struggles of sleeping rough on the streets.

The pair moved to Australia from New Zealand six years ago, but within six months, the life-changing trip took a dramatic turn.

After running out of savings, the couple ended up on the streets and it was there that Mrs Patene was stabbed.

She says that without the help of homeless strangers, she could have died.

“When I was in hospital was the time that I said ‘we need to do something about the people that helped me’, I wouldn’t be alive today without them,” she said. “That’s why we started – just to give back to the people who kept me alive.”

The people who saved Mrs Patene were a homeless family. After recovering, the couple set their sights on helping those who had helped them.

“We took them off the streets and to date the father is now a manager of a local supermarket, the mum is working and the two youngest children are in private education,” Mrs Patene said.

“It was that turning time right then that I said we need to keep giving back; I couldn’t stop and we just kept going.”

That led to the founding of We Are One.

“We’ve been established now for two years; through the process we became a not-for-profit, then we became a charity and we’ve got 150 strong volunteers,” Mrs Patene said.

“To date there are 44 homeless here in Kwinana CBD – 19 youths and 25 adults.

“Out of those 44 people, we’ve homed about 10 already in the past two weeks but there’s no homes. It’s a big struggle.”

The services offered by We Are One range from care packages to finding work. “The current service we have is 24 hours, seven days a week, especially Saturdays and Sundays,” Mrs Patene said.

“We do financial assistance; we do any care packages like food, children’s education, elderly, clothing, toiletries and pamper hampers.

“We find employment for people, we find them emergency and permanent accommodation as well as assessment and training.”

Mrs Patene said the City of Kwinana had been tremendous in their support.

“They’ve been amazing with their support in general. They’ve fully supported everything that we’ve wanted to do,” Mrs Patene said.

For more information visit the We Are One Facebook page.