The Western Australian launch of Homelessness Week took place within the foyer of Perth’s Brookfield Place Tower. It was a fitting location to have the opening, as Brookfield Properties were sponsoring the Home is Where my Heart is retrospective photographic exhibition for Homelessness Week.
Against this backdrop of photos capturing the reality of youth homelessness, members of The Spirit of the Streets Choir led by Bernard Carney OAM performed a rendition of the Phil Collins song ‘Another Day in Paradise’ a song in which Collins implores listeners not to turn a blind eye to homelessness.
Bernard Carney OAM leads the Spirit of the Streets Choir
After the performance Aboriginal dancer and didgeridoo player Olman Walley conducted a Welcome to Country ceremony. You can watch it here. Mr Mark Glasson, Chairperson of Shelter WA, outlined the purpose of the week and welcomed guests.
In her speech the Hon. Simone McGurk MLA, Minister for Child Protection; Women's Interests; Prevention of Family and Domestic Violence and Community Services spoke about how it is not just a matter about “managing” homelessness but actually “ending” it.
“This should be our very real ambition particularly in a state with such plenty as we are here in Western Australia,” said Minister McGurk. “And it’s not just one group or one sector that will end homelessness, it’s all of us in partnership that I know are represented here.”
The Minister acknowledged how many homelessness issues had come to the public’s attention just recently. Leading up to the Homelessness Week several stories focusing on the many displaced people living in the CBD had been linked, among other things, to a “retail crisis” of store closures.
Whilst the Minister said it was good to have public focus on the issue, we want not only an immediate response but a “medium and a long-term effort to support people in the right sort of accommodation, and to give them the supports that they need to address some of the issues that might have led them to be homeless in the first place”.
“Whether they’re mental health issues, whether they’re drug and alcohol addiction issues, whether there’s domestic or family violence, whether that’s financial counselling,” she said. “They need the linking of supports at the right time to provide them with stability in their lives.” Watch the full speech here.
[L-R] Photographer Xzavier Austen with Jacinta Austen
After the Minister completed her remarks Ross Wortham the CEO of the Youth Affairs Council of Western Australia (YACWA) spoke to the audience about the photography exhibition.
He introduced us to Sun McIntyre a participant in the photography project. Sun, who submitted a self-portrait, outlined his struggles of being homeless for more than three years. Sun spoke candidly about dealing with his gender transition and the impact it would have on his family leading him to then being bounced around between support services, shelters and friends’ couches.
Amazingly, these challenges did not stop the naturally shy man from completing a Certificate III in Civil Construction.
[L-R] Photographer Sun McIntyre with Chief Executive Officer of YACWA Ross Wortham
Today, Sun is in a Department of Housing unit and has employment.
Thanks to all our sponsors, who have enabled us to raise awareness and encourage discussion about how to end homelessness in Western Australia. Particularly to Brookfield Properties who generously donated their foyer space to not only house the Home is Where my Heart is exhibition but to provide this venue for the launch.
Homelessness Week 2019 sponsors include Lotterywest, Department of Communities, Beyond Bank, Woodside Energy and Brookfield Properties.
[L-R] Chief Executive Officer of YACWA Ross Wortham, General Manager of Community Services at Centrecare Leanne Strommen and Centrecare’s Nathalie Drevet
[L-R] Lived Experience Advisor Allan Connolly and Minister for Community Services Hon. Simone McGurk MLA
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