A NEW initiative devised by St Patrick’s Community Support Centre will see a troubled section of Beaconsfield inundated with support services.
The “Beacy Bronx”—overwhelmingly public housing—was the subject of a massive police raid (“Residents cheer on Beaconsfield raids, Herald, January 11, 2014) following complaints from neighbouring tenants about violence and drugs.
Now more than 30 organisations, including government departments, NGOs, local businesses and philanthropists have committed to making themselves available for a “collaborative intervention”, to be centred on Davis Park.
It’s part of a broader initiative set up by St Pat’s called the South West Metropolitan Partnership Forum—the first and only model of its kind in Australia but based on US schemes.
It was launched last week by Barnett government minister Helen Morton whose ministries of mental health, disability services and child protection have all been roped in.
The 30 organisations will pool resources to target hotspots and issues across Fremantle, Cockburn and Melville: St Pat’s CEO Michael Piu says one big difference to previous round-tables is residents will tell the officials what to do.
“The idea is that members of the community—which could be the consumer, or their families, or neighbours—become fully engaged and are equal partners with the service providers,” he told the Herald.
“They will help identify gaps in services and provide community-driven solutions, rather than being driven from the government,” he said, noting the old method was clearly failing.
He says the project will be an enormous challenge, particularly when it comes to convincing the WA government it won’t lead to a budget-busting free-for-all, but he says Tuesday’s planning day at Davis Park gave him great hope.
“We had the most amazing planning day…with more than 100 interested individuals, including several Davis Park residents.”
He says residents happily contributed to a discussion about what could be realistically achieved with existing resources to turn around the area’s problems, as well as some more aspirational ideas.
A WA government grant only guarantees the forum three years of funding, but Mr Piu is confident it’ll find ways to keep going, noting that in Victoria’s neighbourhood renewal project, community interventions last at least eight years.
by STEVE GRANT