FOR the first time in WA’s history, homeless people will lead a protest march through the streets of Perth on March 22.
The second annual March Australia will see the homeless lead church groups, social justice advocates, human rights campaigners, unionists and environmentalists after a rally at Stirling Gardens.
Fremantle federal Labor MP Melissa Parke and Greens senator Scott Ludlam will address the rally.
“This is a show of strength from the homeless to the Australian government; this issue has gone unnoticed for too long,” organiser Farida Iqbal says.
Activist Jonathan Shapiera says the Abbott Government’s refusal to commit to the National Partnership Agreement on Homelessness puts lives at risk.
“My son and I were helped off the streets by a program funded by the NPAH, and without that, considering my current illness I would most likely be dead,” Mr Shapiera says.
“Despite a national increase in homelessness we are continuing to see a decrease in funding.
“We are seeing a depletion of support workers and services because of a lack of job stability.”
Fremantle homeless woman Belinda Walley has been on the state housing wait list for almost eight years and feels let down. She relies on family to survive.
“It is tough out here on the street,” she says. “No-one cares, we are seen as dirt to be swept up off the pavement.”
More than 5000 participated in last year’s Perth march.
by TOM DE SOUZA