No tent, no home

07. 30NEWS

• Simone McGurk, Vicki Williams, Jennifer-Rose Duncan and daughter Amy and Labor leader Mark McGowan. Photo by Brendan Foster

A heavily pregnant young mum is homeless after the tent she shares with her daughter and relatives at a local caravan park was torn apart in Tuesday night’s storm.

Jennifer-Rose Duncan had huddled in the tent with her daughter Amy, 2, her brother and sister and her partner for six weeks because none could find affordable accommodation.

Ms Duncan, 36 weeks pregnant, has been on a WA housing department waiting list for two years.

“It’s stressful, exhausting and annoying,” she told the Herald. “It’s not something anyone should be living in, whether you are pregnant or not.

“I have to be put on a priority list and wait until my name is called up.

“They obviously don’t have a heart to help someone in a situation I’m in.

“That leaves me trying anything I can to get accommodation for myself and my two-year-old—somewhere safe for her to sleep at night where she isn’t going to get sick.”

But WA child protection and family support chief Terry Murphy paints a different picture, saying Ms Duncan has received “significant financial assistance” and short-term crisis accommodation at hotels. Last year the WA housing department gave her bond assistance for a private rental in Northam, which she vacated, and then more bond assistance for a private rental in Wundowie, which she left within six months.

Mr Murphy says his department “recently located accommodation for her and her daughter in Northam, which she declined.

“The department cannot continue to pay for private hotel accommodation when there is suitable accommodation available.”

After her tent blew down Ms Duncan tracked down Fremantle state Labor MP Simone McGurk, who scrambled to find emergency accommodation for that night at the Flying Angels Club.

The next day, Ms McGurk was hitting brick walls trying to find something more permanent.

Ms Duncan broke down in tears, pleading, “can you help somebody who needs help, especially a mother that has nowhere to go?

“It makes me feel like I can’t do anything for my child because I can’t even give her a house.”

She says she fears her daughter and new baby may be taken into custody if she can’t put a roof over their heads.

King Edward Memorial Hospital, where she will give birth, will refuse to let her take her baby if there is no home for the family to go to.

“I do fear they are going to come and take my children,” she says. “That’s something that no parent should have to go through.”

Labor leader Mark McGowan wryly notes the world is celebrating a Royal baby this week while a pregnant Perth mum lives in a tent.

“The weather is cold and difficult and this is no way to bring a newborn into the world.”

by BRENDAN FOSTER

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