Homeless advocate angry about City of Rockingham’s homeless shelter refusal

The proposal was for a men's shelter at Panola House in Shoalwater.
The proposal was for a men's shelter at Panola House in Shoalwater.

SOUTH West Australian Homeless People group founder Jonathan Shapiera has called on the State Government to take a stand with local councils to help address the homelessness problem.

Mr Shapiera was responding after the City of Rockingham knocked back a proposal for a homeless shelter in Shoalwater last week.

Homeless shelter knocked back

“The shelter would provide accommodation for 31 rough-sleeping men similar to those currently sleeping in the bush at Rockingham,” Mr Shapiera said.

“It would enable transitioning back into independent community living.

“The Federal Government passed responsibility of tackling homelessness on to state governments and yet this rejection by the Rockingham Council is a typical example of local government’s Nimby (not in my backyard) syndrome.

“We call on the State Government to take a stand with shires and councils and direct them to facilitate with not-for-profit organisations to address the homelessness problem and not frustrate initiatives.

“It has become apparent that some local governments pay lip service to the homeless issue and when a tangible proposal like St Patrick’s is put forward, they veto the initiative.”

Recommendation for City of Rockingham to approve men’s shelter

Mr Shapiera said more than 1000 people slept rough in WA every night, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

“Practitioners believe the actual figure is closer to 3000,” he said.

“This is an unbelievable state of affairs when a recognised and respected homeless shelter provider like St Patrick’s is denied by a local government to provide a solution to the distressing aspect of the homeless in our society.”

At the council meeting, Councillor Deb Hamblin summarised why the proposal was refused.

She said it was in a location without enough support services, the scale of 31 men was excessive, it was in a residential area, there was inadequate parking, there was not enough recreational space for the men, there were no full-time staff at the facility and it would have a detrimental impact on tourism.