THE McGowan government has opened up the Woodman Point Recreation Camp to help get homeless people into shelter during the Covid-19 epidemic.
The government had previously been criticised for its slow response to the vulnerable homeless community, but Day Dawn advocate Jesse Noakes said he was encouraged by how quickly the Department of Communities had moved to get 40 people in Woodman Point.
“It’s terrific, but many of our clients, which includes the sick, elderly and Aboriginal people have received no assistance,” Mr Noakes said.
“There’s more than 1000 people sleeping rough in Perth, so there’s still a lot more that needs to be done.”
Mr Noakes said he’s getting almost hourly calls from people hearing about temporary accommodation becoming available and wanting desperately to get off the streets.
Community services minister Simone McGurk said the 40 people at Woodman Point had access to medical services and there were staff present at the camp 24 hours a day.
“Planning to offer additional wellbeing activities is ongoing, and residents staying at Woodman Point are required to demonstrate respect for staff and other residents at all times,” Ms McGurk said.
“It is crucial that any housing for vulnerable people is accompanied by adequate support.
“It’s all well and good to give a vulnerable person a bed and a roof over their head, but supports are required to make that accommodation option successful.
“The evidence tells us that providing supports as well
as accommodation is non-negotiable to deliver an effective homelessness service. This is one of the reasons that I have had reservations about other hotel offerings in the COVID-19 environment that have had no government involvement. (“Govt drags its heels,” Herald, April 11).
“The Department of Communities is working with partner organisations and residents to determine how long these arrangements will continue, and what support will follow for those community members.”
Meanwhile Mr Noakes said Day Dawn’s trial at the Hougoumont Hotel in Fremantle had been boosted by crowd-funding, which within a week had raised half the $20,000 target.
“We’ve also had masks and hand sanitisers dropped off – home made, I should add, and we had almost more food than we knew what to do with.”
He says someone even donated a bbq so the hotel’s new residents can take turns cooking for themselves out the back.
Noelene Garlett says living at the Hougoumont has helped her regain her health.
“I was a bit sick on the streets and getting really tired,” Ms Garlett said.
“Getting back in the routine and having more me time is really good.”
Ms Garlett said when she started getting sick, she initially feared she’d picked up Covid-19 somewhere on the streets, so was relieved when Day Dawn’s health workers were able to rule that out.
For the long-term, she’s still very keen to get her own home, but says she’s aware she faces an uphill battle.
by STEVE GRANT