A volunteer-run camp for the homeless in the heart of Fremantle won’t close anytime soon, according to organizers.
Fremantle Mayor Brad Pettitt said the local government wanted the site to be ready in about a week after an emergency meeting between government agencies and service providers on Monday.
John ‘Ox’ Kent says the kitchen and warehouse furnishings at Pioneer Park in Fremantle feel safe. Photo credit: Peter de Kruijff
Approximately 50 tents will be set up in Pioneer Park near the port city’s train station, where poorly sleeping Western Australians have been living since Boxing Day.
The camp was set up by community volunteers as a temporary option for the homeless during the holiday season when many social services are closed.
Emma Sangalli, a spokeswoman for Freo Street Kitchen, said there were no plans for long-term storage initially.
« We were only here for this day because we know there are gaps in these services this [Christmas] time, » she said.
« It turns out that there was just a massive need, so we are here to stick around and continue to fill the gaps that are obviously there in the services to these people. «
The camp has a kitchen that is run by a rotating list of volunteers and the people sleeping on the premises.
« The locals in the area have really started showing up for it. We get new faces every day asking how they can help, « she said.
« We try to take the lead from the people we care for. As long as they want us to be here, we’ll try to be here. « . «
The site is a drug-free, alcohol-free zone and is different from the tent city near Lord Street flyover in Perth in that it provides access to portable toilets, sleeping bags, toiletries, clothing, and shoes.
Dr. Pettitt said government agencies and services would work with people in the camp on Tuesday to try to align them with organizations and accommodations.
« We all know that there probably isn’t enough accommodation to get around right now and that is the big challenge for us, » he said.
« The intent is that this doesn’t continue, that we find a way to wrap the tents.
John ‘Ox’ Kent has been homeless and has been at camp since the day he started. He said it was a safe place.
“Most of the time it’s pretty good vibes when we’re all working together,” he said.
Mr Kent said he was not concerned if state or local governments wanted to move into the camp because at the end of the day the authorities would have to find a place where rough sleepers could live.
« Why don’t you come and sleep with us for a week? I bet there are a lot of politicians who wouldn’t even get through the second day, » he said.
Vanessa Culbong, a homeless lawyer who sleeps poorly herself, said the website was good for Aboriginal people whose extended families could come to Fremantle and contact them.
« We had two deaths on the north side where all the homeless guys were camped in Mirrabooka this week, » she said.
« Some of the people out there . . . They want to pitch tents out there now. There is too much homelessness, 15. 000 people and 13 year old waiting lists, it’s ridiculous.
« All the resources they pull up from the ground, all the taxes they have, where all the money goes because it doesn’t come back into society where I can see it is effectively contributing. « . «
Uncle Ben Cuimara Taylor, Noongar elder and social lawyer, was at the camp speaking to the police and the Fremantle Council.
He said the people in the camp needed social housing and the state government had to provide rehabilitation facilities and overnight accommodation.
Lindsay Hale, executive director of the Department of Communities Service Delivery, said community security is the main factor when considering the current location of the warehouse.
« The Department of Communities is committed to working with individuals to move them out of homelessness and into safe and stable shelters, » he said.
« The state government has invested significant new money in combating homelessness in addition to its nearly $ 100 million in existing annual funding commitments.
« Much of the additional funding allocated to these services will go to people who are homeless in the Fremantle area.
« The most constructive way for the community to provide vulnerable people with the help they need is to refer it to government-funded homeless services that have the connections and expertise required. «
« This was established at a time between Christmas and New Years when normal services are not equally available to people who are sleeping poorly, » he said.
« As we go back to the normal New Year. We need to talk a little bit about what happens to it. «
Dr. Pettitt said the number of rough sleepers in the Fremantle area rose from about 60 to 70 before COVID to 120 to 140 last year.
« I hope we can see fresh impetus from the back and state government to get these people into apartments, as we saw at ‘Tent City’ in Perth and the recent Common Ground announcement in Mandurah, » said he said.
« It would be great to see Freo having similar problems and we would like to dedicate more resources to bringing the people of Freo into homes with the appropriate services. «
Fremantle, homelessness, housing
World News – AU – ‘A massive need’: Fremantle homeless camp here to stay
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