Donated swags to assist some of WA’s homeless people

10 Aug 2017

Access Housing General Manager – Community Housing Su Groome presents John Van Der Giezen from the Specialist Aboriginal Mental Health Service with one of the donated swagsAccess Housing’s ongoing support of frontline homelessness service providers has seen it again donate swags to deserving organisations during National Homelessness Week.

National Homelessness Week, which is this year being held between 7-13 August, promotes a greater understanding of homelessness and how best to prevent and end it.

This year Access Housing has donated 44 swags to St Patrick’s Community Support Centre in Fremantle, the Specialist Aboriginal Mental Health Service, the Bunbury In-Town Lunch Centre, WestAus Crisis and Welfare Services in Mandurah and the 50 Lives 50 Homes program lead by RUAH Community Services. These organisations will allocate the swags to rough sleepers in their local communities.

The swags are lightweight, water and windproof, fire retardant, mildew resistant and roll up into a backpack that also has space for personal belongings.

Access Housing Chief Executive Officer Garry Ellender said this year’s theme for National Homelessness Week in Western Australia – ‘let’s end homelessness, not just manage it’ – aligned with the company’s property development and broader affordable housing aims.

“Since 2013 Access Housing has built or purchased 270 new affordable homes, at a cost of more than $60.26 million, to help increase the supply of affordable housing in WA for low to moderate income earners and those facing or experiencing homelessness,” Mr Ellender said.

Bunbury In Town Lunch Centre Manager Leanne Gibbs (left) and Access Housing’s South West Tenancy Services Manager Matina Aitken “Access Housing sees its annual donations of swags as an important contribution to frontline homeless support providers but ultimately we want to see people sleeping rough move into secure, sustainable housing.”

The company’s commitment to helping reduce homelessness rates is reflected in its role as a housing provider to the RUAH-lead 50 Lives 50 Homes program. Through collaborative stakeholder efforts, the program seeks to permanently house and adequately support homeless people from inner city Perth who are identified as being the most vulnerable and at highest risk based on their physical and/or mental health needs and the length of time they have been homeless.

The project targets rough sleepers, delivered using a ‘Housing First’ approach combined with wrap around support services.  The philosophy of the program is that a homeless individual’s first and primary need is to obtain stable housing and that other issues that may affect the person can and should be addressed once housing is obtained.

Mr Ellender said whilst Access Housing was proud of its housing provision role in the 50 Lives 50 Homes program there is a need for increased government investment to supply additional homes for the program if we are to break the back of the rough sleeper problem in WA. He also said that more flexible utilisation of current public and community housing properties would also free up additional houses for the program.