New temporary accommodation has been set up to support some of Perth’s rough sleepers, however, questions remain over how long the community’s most vulnerable will be accommodated, as Australia’s confirmed COVID cases continue to decrease.
Last Thursday, NITV News aired vision showing WA Police officers issuing move on notices and threatening to arrest homeless Aboriginal people, as City of Perth rangers dismantled their makeshift camp.
On Friday, new arrangements to accommodate some of Perth’s rough sleepers commenced at a camp school owned by the State Government located in Perth’s southern suburbs.
In a statement to NITV News, a Department of Communities spokesperson confirmed the department is working with various Aboriginal organisations to provide critical support.
“This approach has seen 43 rough sleepers provided with temporary accommodation and support at Woodman Point, including medical services,” the spokesperson said.
“The Department is working with partner organisations and residents on how long these arrangements will continue, and what support will follow for those community members.”
Woodman’s Point Recreation Camp is owned by the State Government and is normally used by schools for student camps.
It’s located in Perth’s coastal suburb of Coogee, 36 kilometres from the city or an 80-minute public transport ride.
The site was once used as a quarantine station from the 1880s until the late 1970s.
Advocate Megan Krakouer, who helped transport some of the city’s rough sleepers out to the camp on the weekend, said this move by the government was a step in the right direction.
“There’s lack of hope, there’s despair, there’s a lot of trauma with this [pandemic] happening right now,” Ms Krakouer told NITV News.
“I hope that once this is all over, in terms of COVID, that this program continues,” she said.
Noongar elder, Herbert Bropho said he was disappointed in the new initiative mainly because many people are still living on the streets and Perth’s cold season is approaching.
“I been hearing that they were supposed to take 200 but I’m getting a different number,” Mr Bropho told NITV News.
“My main thing is when you open these places you’re supposed to take everybody that’s the idea, taking everybody out to a safe place and making sure that they're alright,” he said.
NITV News spoke with a couple who were staying at the camp. They said there is enough food being provided but it can be boring sometimes and the isolation is hard, as they have to get into the city for appointments.
The government said staff from Aboriginal corporations are on-site 24 hours a day and they are planning on introducing wellbeing activities.
Residents have been given flu shots and testing has been conducted to confirm that no one is COVID positive.