Mandurah has become just the second Australian city to be recognised as making a “major step” towards ending homelessness by reducing the amount of people sleeping rough.
The city is the first location since Port Phillip in 2021 to show this measurable reduction, according to the Western Australian Alliance to End Homelessness.
According to WAAEH, almost 100 people on Mandurah’s “by-name list” — a live record which lists every person experiencing homelessness in a community by name — have been housed since January.
WAAEH director of practice and improvement Michala McMahon said Mandurah had made a “critical step towards ending homelessness” by reducing rough sleeping by 20 per cent for six consecutive months.
“We’re thrilled to announce the news of Mandurah’s shift reduction,” Ms McMahon said.
“Shifts are a sign that a community has made a major system improvement and is a critical step towards ending homelessness.”
Mandurah is part of the Advance to Zero campaign, an initiative of the Australian Alliance to End Homelessness which supports local action to end homelessness.
The campaign aims to achieve a target of “functional zero” where it can be shown that a community is housing more people than are homeless and can sustain that over a period of time.
Chelsea Gildea, the coordinator of local homelessness crisis and support centre PeelConnect, said she had observed less homelessness in the city, especially in the number of families seeking support.
“It’s a huge thing, obviously; it makes all the organisations quite proud of the effort we’ve been putting in,” Ms Gildea said.
“But we’re hoping this kind of starts a rolling ball and more cities will get serious about homelessness and housing people.”
Ms Gildea said the reduction could be attributed to a “group effort” between local homelessness support services and the Department of Communities’ Housing Choices Australia.
But she said more would need to be done to achieve the “functional zero” target in Mandurah.
“I know the government is pushing for more long-term houses to be built but I think we also need to look more into crisis accommodation,” she said.
“I mean, we have that many buildings in Mandurah and Perth that are sitting vacant, owned by the Government, that could for a lot less money and a lot easier be turned into temporary crisis accommodation.
“So that’s definitely something that I believe we need.”
To mark World Homelessness Day on October 10, Peel Connect will host Rough it 4 Mandurah, a sleep-out fundraiser in collaboration with Rockingham homelessness advocate Owen Farmer.
The organisation’s staff will sleep on the street for a night and are asking the public to donate money or pantry food items, toiletries, tents or swags.
Ms Gildea said she was organising the event after a successful sleep out was held in Rockingham last year and had enlisted Mr Farmer as an ambassador.
She hoped the event would raise awareness of homelessness in Mandurah, the work Peel Connect did for the community and add much-needed funds to the group.
To donate to the cause, visit bit.ly/3EIDXHP or Peel Connect’s office on Leslie Street.