North-West Aboriginal Housing Fund

The North-West Aboriginal Housing Fund aims to create pathways towards social and economic independence and wellbeing for Aboriginal people in the Pilbara and Kimberley. 

The Fund will invest in projects that will increase affordable, suitable and stable housing options, increase opportunities for educational attainment and job stability and empower Aboriginal people and communities. 

In 2019 the Fund would like to support potential partners to put forward and develop ideas that will contribute to the further achievement of Fund outcomes in the North-West. 

We expect to launch a request for Expression of Interest in the near future. We will be sending you further information on this process shortly. This is the first step in working with organisations to develop projects that are strength-based and community driven. It demonstrates the Government’s commitment to working collaboratively with organisations and communities across the Kimberley and Pilbara.

Find out more by attending the following information session:

Perth Session 

Thursday, 14 March 2019 - 9.30am (Room 3.34, Gordon Stephenson House, 140 William St, Perth).

RSVP  one week prior here


Inside Housing - February 6/2019 

Please read the latest edition of our fortnightly newsletter, Inside Housing

Inside this edition... 

• National Shelter seeks your input into an inclusionary zoning study to increase affordable housing options. 
• Shelter WA have welcomed a push for tighter affordability checks when it comes to approving home loans.
• Our Member Profile looks at the work of social justice champion and advocate for real-world research Associate Professor Lisa Wood.

Plus heaps more including, Shelter WA outlines core issues to short-stay accommodation inquiry and meet our new Senior Communications and Marketing Advisor. Heather Bush with her knowledge of commercial marketing and her passion for social justice, is keen to drive Shelters core values clearly through to our various stakeholders and change makers.

Click here to read our newsletter.

Shelter WA is an independent peak body, based in Perth Western Australia, that advocates for social and affordable housing and ending homelessness.

Banking Royal Commission

Both Shelter WA and The Financial Counsellors' Association of WA have welcomed a push for tighter affordability checks when it comes to approving home loans. 

The Financial Services Royal Commission (Hayne Inquiry) took lenders to task over their lack of responsible lending practices with their home loans, car loans and credit cards. 

Bev Jowle, Executive Officer of the Financial Counsellors' Association (FCA) of WA heard about the practices first-hand. 

“Our financial counsellors have told me that some banks would underestimate the number of dependents a family might have or reduce their cost of living expenses just to get a loan across the line,” Ms Jowle said.

“This meant people could borrow beyond their means when they could have gone for a lesser priced property the would have been able to afford, but the bank and mortgage brokers would push it so people would borrow a little bit more.”

Last year large numbers of National Australia Bank home loan applications were found to have deliberately under-reported customers’ living expenses.

Michelle Mackenzie, Chief Executive Officer of Shelter WA, the State's peak housing policy and advocacy body says the practices of the banks and mortgage brokers have pushed people into housing stress.

“If responsible lending laws were complied with many people would have a mortgage they could afford,” Ms Mackenzie said.

“Housing stress influences a whole range of non-housing outcomes, including workforce participation; access to jobs and services; health; social participation, family stability and educational outcomes. It can lead to homelessness.

Access to housing finance is critical for a housing market. So too is focusing on better consumer outcomes and restoring trust in lending practices, said Michelle.

Since the recommendations of the inquiry were handed down some reports have suggested customers will now be unable to secure a mortgage.

“We would argue people will still get mortgages, but they will be at a rate that people can afford rather than being overly extended,” Ms Jowle said.

In the last three months of 2018, more than 9,000 calls were made to the financial advice helpline in WA. In the same period only NSW (10,800) received a higher number of calls nationally with VIC receiving 8,000 and QLD receiving 7,400 respectively.

“One day last week we had 137 calls in one day,” explained Ms Jowle.

Member Profile: Lisa Wood

| By Royceton Hardey 

When Associate Professor Lisa Wood received a congratulatory email regarding her nomination in the 2018 Impact 25 Awards, she was at first a bit suspicious. 

“I get a lot of email, and often spam congratulating me on being a winner!” Assoc. Prof. Wood said. “When I saw the ‘Congratulations’, I was unsure as to what it was all about. It is not often researchers get nominated for awards like this, so I was really surprised.” 

Pro Bono Australia’s Impact 25 Awards recognise individuals who are working in the social sector and for social causes to solve today’s greatest challenges through integrity, foresight, initiative and collaboration. The University of Western Australia (UWA) School of Population and Global Health Associate Professor still doesn’t know who made the nomination but was very pleased that the role research and evidence plays in relation to vulnerable groups was being recognised. 

“I know UWA is chuffed by this award nomination, as it is quite rare for research to be recognised as making a difference at the coalface,” she said. “There is an amazing list of people in there (nominated) and they are out there at the coalface doing fantastic things across many social and environmental issues, and whilst we try to do our bit in research, you often don’t feel like you are making a direct difference.”

Although in academic research now, Lisa’s career did not begin here.

“I started off in public health and health promotion, working with government and non-government sectors, so I guess I came into research with that real-world mindset,” Assoc. Prof. Wood said.

“Traditionally people often see researchers as being in an ivory tower where a researcher comes up with what they think is a great idea, they apply for a massive grant, and five years later publish its findings. That is not really my thing.

“I do it the opposite way. I look at the work people are doing out in the real-world such as Dr Andrew Davies, Homeless Healthcare; Dr Amanda Stafford, Royal Perth Hospital; Jonathan Shapiera, Founder of South West Australian Homeless People; and ask how research could help to evaluate the effectiveness of current programs or identify where the gaps lie.

Associate Professor Lisa Wood

“A lot of our research is with not-for-profit service providers reliant on precarious funding, where we undertake independent robust evaluation to assess the impact of such services. The Safe as Houses program coordinated through Tenancy WA is a recent example of this – it is doing amazing work to prevent homelessness among women and children impacted by domestic violence, but its funding is about to run out.

“So, in evaluating programs like Safe as Houses, we can provide independent evidence to help secure funding to continue or expand essential services that are helping to end homelessness.”

Lisa leads a rapidly growing program of collaborative research with Homeless Healthcare and Royal Perth Hospital (RPH) Homeless Team, both of which are key partners in the 50 Lives 50 Homes project that Lisa is also evaluating.

“It all began back in 2016,” explained Lisa.

“I was trying to find a homelessness project with some health data, so I approached Dr Andrew Davies at Homeless Healthcare and asked if they could do with some free research?”

The approach was greeted positively, and from this very small beginning, there is now a growing number of staff and students involved in UWA’s homelessness and health research. Last year the Home2Health team won a Public Health Association award for research and policy translation, and Lisa was also awarded a national Sax Institute’s Research Action Award.

“People who are homeless often present to hospital in crisis and typically have little access to a GP or preventive health services,” explains Lisa. “Through our evaluations of Homeless Healthcare, the RPH Homeless Team and 50 Lives, we have been able to show that hospital use, and associated costs can be significantly reduced when access to compassionate healthcare is improved, particularly once people are housed.

“We have also worked with Homeless Healthcare and the RPH Homeless Team to publish several papers in peer-viewed international literature, this helps put what we are doing in WA on the map.

“In the last six months, there have been several groups come over from Cairns and Sydney to look at how homelessness and health issues are being tackled in Perth, and the role of data and evaluation is seen as central to this.

“Increasingly we are using the data we have to identify where the service gaps are for people who are homeless. The needs of people with dual mental health and alcohol/drug issues is a case in point. People can go to a mental health service and get told it’s a drug problem, but then present to hospital with a drug use issue and it is deemed a mental health problem. The result is people languishing in the streets, bouncing around different parts of the health system.

“With Homeless Healthcare we were successful in getting a WA Health grant to pilot and evaluate a Homeless Outreach Dual Diagnosis Service (HODDS). This starts in February and will have a psychiatrist and mental health nurse working in tandem with the Homeless Healthcare GP’s to address this vital service gap.

“Another big gap in WA is the lack of somewhere for people who are homeless to go when they are discharged from hospital. Imagine trying to recover from hospital or complying with medications that need to be stored in a fridge if you live in the streets.”

Late last year Lisa and her team got a Raine Foundation Visiting Fellow grant to bring Dr Jim O’Connell out from Boston to talk about the benefits of a medical recovery centre to address this issue.

“This is not only the right and humane thing to do,” Lisa said, “but studies overseas have shown that having a medical recovery centre will reduce the likelihood that people return to hospital, and this will save the health system money.”

A 2019 goal for Lisa and her team is to continue to use data to look at how health disparities suffered by people experiencing homelessness can be reduced.

“Whether things are working or not will show in the data and further gaps can be uncovered,” said Lisa. “Recently for example we identified with Homeless Healthcare that there are very low rates of preventive cancer screening among women who are homeless, and high rates of trauma and mental health issues, so through UWA we have submitted a grant to Perpetual to pilot and evaluate a clinic for women.

“This example demonstrates how our research is increasingly moving from evaluating what people were already doing to more of a hand in hand partnership to address service and policy gaps.”

The work of Lisa and her team is starting to garner worldwide interest.

In March she will present at an International Symposium in London on her team’s research work with Ruah Community Services 50 Lives 50 Homes campaign, Homeless Healthcare and the RPH Homeless Team. Lisa has received a travel fellowship from UWA Faculty of Health and Medicine to spend a month there looking at what work is being done in the U.K. regarding homeless health research practice and policy.

“One of the aspects I want to particularly look into in the U.K. is that they have done a lot of work around the involvement of people with lived experience in co-designing services and as peer advocates and peer researchers,” Lisa said.

“I want to get some ideas on how we can beef that up over here, to get some ideas and inspiration. Bringing more intentional attention to lived experience and how we can bring that into our research and the sector.

“There is also good work happening (in the U.K.) there on how to break the revolving door between prison and homelessness. I’ve tried to get a national grant to research how to tackle this twice without success and it sits on my heart as being a big issue especially when WA is building another prison and there are other ways you can spend that money to help break that cycle.

“Prisoners often really want to turn their lives around, but they didn’t know where they were going to live when they got out. I did some work in prisons a couple of years ago with Holyoake and its DRUMBEAT program and met people whose only options were either to couch surf with people they previously hung out with, who used drugs, or to start afresh; but how do you start afresh when you have no money or no contacts.

“It’s hard, and this is why we see that many people sleeping rough in WA have had prior contact with the justice system.”

While Lisa is interested in what the U.K. are doing, they are also interested in where WA is leading the way.

“One of the people I will meet with over there,” explains Lisa, “was spruiking to her colleagues that it was her belief that we had cracked it in WA in terms of a close partnership between a University, clinicians and service providers.

“This was a really encouraging thing to hear for WA and the strong partnerships we have built up with those working at the coalface of homelessness. People are seeing that we are not just producing reports that sit on a shelf, we were all actively seeking data together to help secure funding and find gaps.”

While the benefits of research are proven in Lisa’s field I wondered if it was something future research students would be interested in taking up as a form of study. In my mind it would be a shame to lose Lisa’s experience if successive plans are not in place.

“This is a really good question,” remarks Lisa.

“I teach two UWA health leadership units. One for undergraduate students and the other for postgraduate students which includes Master of Public Health and Pharmacy students. In these units I raise awareness about homelessness and health inequality. It has been exciting to see some of my students deciding to work with our team (even volunteering their time!), and this year we have an honours, masters and PhD student all doing applied research around homelessness health.

“Homelessness hasn’t traditionally been seen as a ‘health issue’, but this is changing as the social determinants of poor health and of homelessness massively overlap. Through my teaching I try to give students insight into the challenges and the importance of research and how evidence informed advocacy can help ‘change the world’.

“I am conscious of the fact that funding in the homelessness sector is tight and we need evaluation to be sustainable, so our team is also helping to upskill organisations themselves so they can collect data and evaluate better.

“There are some really good well-meaning organisations in this social sector but often the data they collect is just what the funders require. But what they need to become sustainable is to demonstrate outcomes, and measuring the right things, and measuring them well is a key to this.

“As we build trust with the organisations we are working with, they are open to suggestions about data collection and as is the case with Homeless Healthcare and 50 Lives, we have been able to improve collection systems, and this makes it easier for us to then link it to hospital and police data so that we can demonstrate wider societal impacts.”

In Lisa’s mind the goal would be for funders of organisations to recognise the importance of evaluation and to build it into contracts.

“Funders, both government and philanthropic, often only want to fund the frontline service delivery, but it would be wonderful if funders also supported organisations to collect better data to show they are making a difference,” explains Lisa.

“If organisations themselves can be collecting robust data and getting the good news stories about the impact they are having out there, then maybe you don’t need clones of me,” laughs Lisa.

“In the meantime, we have a growing team of enthusiastic students and colleagues passionate about homelessness and health, and we have a long-term dedicated commitment to reducing health inequalities faced by people who are homeless.”

You can view the full list of The Impact 25 Award nominees here.

"Shelter WA is an invaluable ‘go to’ for keeping abreast of the key policy issues, developments and areas of unmet need around homelessness and affordable housing. I have often drawn on information from Shelter WA submissions to various enquiries, and as a researcher, it is always pleasing to see the commitment to evidence-based policy and research. Its strong advocacy focus is a critical voice at the state and national level, often championing the housing related needs of some of our most vulnerable population groups, including rough sleepers, remote Aboriginal communities, and people living below the poverty line. Shelter has also recently led the way in WA on the involvement of people with lived experience of homelessness, and this is crucial if we are to effectively and compassionately achieve housing as a fundamental human right for all." – Lisa Wood, University of Western Australia (UWA) School of Population and Global Health Associate Professor.

Industry Roundtable - Density and Diversity

The challenge had been set. 

Why do we need to shift the narrative around density and diversity to ensure a home for every West Australian? 

Research shows if we want our children to be able to afford to live where they grew up or where they work, teachers, police or people who work in the local shops to live close to where they work, elderly people to stay within their community, people with different housing needs to find a home and the services they need, or to end homelessness, we need a new conversation about well-designed housing diversity and density that provides homes needed by all. 

James Best [L], CEO of Future Plexus engages with participants.

Why and how we shift this narrative was the task for participants at the second industry roundtable hosted by Shelter WA in partnership with Ronnie Duncan, Founder and Non-Executive Director of Meerkats, a company which helps businesses identify their purpose to then align it with their activities, and James Best CEO of Future Plexus.

Participants were challenged to build on why they need to do something to how, how we can work together to shift the community narrative around housing affordability, diversity and density.

Stuart Clark [L-R], Director, Social Housing Policy, Housing Authority; Karyn Lochore, St. Patrick's Community Support Centre.

Shelter WA Chief Executive Officer Michelle Mackenzie found working with the creative minds in the room both inspiring and productive.

“When it comes down to it, we know that we need to shift our thinking so that we plan and build affordable homes that respond to different regions, environments, people’s needs across Western Australia.”

Kathleen Gregory [L-R], Western Australian Alliance to End Homelessness, Shelter WA Board Member, Foundation Housing CEO; Rachelle Gill, Assistant Director - Planning & Building at Housing Industry Association (HIA); Andrew Watt - Creating Communities Australia.

The Roundtable provides a forum for representatives from industry bodies, academia, government and the community sector to reflect on the current housing market and, envision a future where everybody has housing that enables them to thrive. Shelter WA looks forward to collective actions to tackle this issue to deliver more diverse housing choice for all.

[L-R] James Best, CEO of Future Plexus; Katie Stubley, Strategic Design Manager, Centre for Social Impact UWA; Ronnie Duncan, Founder and Non-Executive Director of Meerkats; Michelle Mackenzie, CEO Shelter WA; John Gelavis, Master Builders Association of WA (Master Builders) Executive Director.

Short-stay Accomodation

In late 2018, the Economics and Industry Standing Committee was referred an inquiry into short-stay accommodation, with a final report to the Legislative Assembly on 27 June 2019. 

In response to the growing concerns of housing affordability and availability of private rental accommodation, Shelter WA prepared a submission which outlines some of the core issues and a pathway to light touch regulatory reform. 

Our key recommendations include: 

• The inclusion of a requirement for registration of short-stay accommodation listings, to facilitate enforcement and to collect date on the size and breadth of the industry.
• Supplementary localised planning strategies to limit short-stay accommodation and ensure adequate affordable rental supply in areas with a strong short-stay accommodation sector and tourist appeal, to address the concentrated impact in these neighbourhoods.
• The integration of measures to limit commercial-style short-stay accommodation within a broad, integrated housing policy, which acknowledges the fundamentally changing nature of private housing markets and the complex drivers behind these shifts.
• The development of an ongoing research agenda into short-stay accommodation and its impact on housing and urban planning outcomes.

Read the full submission here.

Facebook Moving

Facebook Moving

The Homelessness Week Facebook page will soon be closing. 

But we want all of the pages followers to join us at Shelter WA. Homelessness Week is a national week of events that raises awareness about homelessness in our community. Last year, Shelter WA, with the support of the Homelessness Week Reference Group, welcomed over 220 people to four main events. A further ten sponsored events occurred across WA, from Esperance to Meekatharra. 

Shelter WA is also the backbone organisation supporting the Western Australian Alliance to End Homelessness. 

Make sure you 'Like' Shelter WA's Facebook page to continue to receive the latest news and events pertaining to Homelessness Week. You can like Shelter WA hereHomelessness Week 2019 runs from Sunday, 4 - Saturday, 10 August 2019.


New Planning Scheme for the City of Nedlands – why we care 

Shelter WA welcomes the announcement that the Minister for Planning will sign a new City of Nedlands Planning Scheme. 

This is important as the new scheme will enable more housing choice, ageing in place opportunities and higher residential density around transport corridors and activity centres, whilst restricting density on suburban streets to preserve the suburbs garden and heritage character. 

As Perth's population grows, there is a critical need to provide more housing choice closer to the central business district and existing community infrastructure such as parks, public transport and medical facilities. The new local planning scheme is intended to provide more housing choice to enable people to downsize and to facilitate more homes for prospective residents wanting to be closer to work or university.

Research shows that if we want our children to be able to live in the same area as us, or our local teachers, police or people work in the local shops to be able to afford to live close to where they work, or our elderly parents to be able to stay within their community, we need a range of housing diverse housing options at different price points across our suburbs.

We need to have a new conversation about the benefits of a variety of housing choices that meet the needs of different people at different points of their life and careers. Perth is one of the lowest density and most car dependent cities in the world. Many people are being pushed to the fringe because we don’t have the types of different housing options that people need.

Shelter WA urges the City of Nedlands and State Government to utilise this opportunity to facilitate more diverse, affordable housing supply within the City.

To view the State Government's media release please click here.




Legislation Training

Save the Date! Thursday, 7 March 2019. The Platform, 3/256 Adelaide Terrace, PERTH. 

The Community Housing Industry Association (CHIA WA) in partnership with Shelter WA and Tenancy WA will be providing training in the new legislation specifically tailored for community housing staff who manage tenancies. 

Save the date and follow Shelter WA's social media for more details shortly. 

Separately, Tenancy WA are putting on specialised training on the implications of the changes to other professionals such as Mental Health Workers, GPs, and Lawyers. Click here to see further information on those courses. 



The work of Shelter WA as the peak body advocating for social and affordable housing and an end to homelessness has been highlighted in an article written by Suzanne Hunt, the WA President of the Architects Institute of Australia. 

In highlighting how the construction industry has a "practical impact on people's lives" in The West Australian newspaper, Ms Hunt noted how she has seen an "increasing number of architects volunteering their services to support community groups through amazing organisations that connect us". 

© The West Australian Newspapers Limited

"I recently attended a facilitated Shelter WA workshop with a coalition of built environment stakeholders and community groups to discuss innovative policy solutions," Ms Hunt wrote. "We agree increasing housing density is the key to improving housing affordability and enabling increasing numbers of people to enjoy the benefits of secure housing but there is a need to reframe outdated models. The Institute (Western Australian Chapter of the Australian Institute of Architects) plans this year to contribute to this important work."

Michelle Mackenzie, CEO of Shelter WA

Ms Hunt also highlighted the work of CoLab, a group which connects engineers and architects with community groups requiring strategic advice, design and construction services, and The Underground Collaborative. The Collaborative created by social entrepreneur Katie Liew, creates employment and housing solutions for the homeless, at-risk and disadvantaged through collaboration with industry, governments, social services and the community. Liew is also on the Western Australian Alliance to End Homelessness Project Team.


Community Housing Survey

The Department of Communities is undertaking a community housing survey. This survey was developed with extensive input from Shelter WA and CHIA WA who continue to work with the Department throughout this process. 

This survey is part of the Community Housing Study which is underway to better understand the contribution of community housing providers in terms of tenant, asset and financial outcomes. It will also provide important information for the development of a State Housing Strategy. 

More information on the Study can be found here

This survey allows all peak bodies, member-based networks and consumer groups the opportunity to participate. This survey is based on findings from consultation undertaken during Stage 1 of the Study. The survey will be open until 13, February 2019 and should take approximately 15-20 minutes to complete. Only one response is required per organisation.

Survey here.

Survey responses will be kept confidential. Survey analysis will focus on the patterns and responses of the group, not individual responses. No identifying information will be presented in any reports or publications resulting from the Study. Aggregated results will be published in 2019. If you have any queries, or experience any difficulties in completing the survey, please email and a member of the Project Team will assist you.

Parity Magazine

Parity Magazine

Contributions to the March edition of Parity Magazine are currently being sought. 

The theme for this edition is "The Future of Crisis Accommodation", which aims to open up the discussion about where crisis accommodation fits into a suite of service responses; how it works practically and philosophically for different homelessness groups; and how it can achieve the best outcomes for people caught in the void between primary homelessness and permanent housing. Go to the Council to Homeless Persons website for Parity guidelines, or email here for more information. 

The August 2017 cover of Parity magazine.

All contributions need to be submitted by COB Friday, 8 March, 2019.

Inside Housing - January 18/2019

Please read the latest edition of our fortnightly newsletter, Inside Housing.

Inside this edition...

  • Shelter WA seeks expressions of interest from people with an interest and knowledge of the history of Shelter WA, as we turn forty.
  • Come and hear from Landgate’s Strata Reform Team on the latest draft regulations for: Community Title, Termination of Schemes and other topics.
  • We look at the excellent support the City of Fremantle provides to people who are homeless.

Plus heaps more including details of who has been nominated in the 2018 Impact 25 Awards and meet our new Project Officer. Lauren Howe has extensive experience working in the Western Australian public sector in a range of research, policy, project, and investigative roles.

Click here to read our newsletter.

Shelter WA is an independent peak body, based in Perth Western Australia, that advocates for social and affordable housing and ending homelessness.

National Youth Homelessness Conference 

The National Youth Homelessness Conference will be the first national homelessness conference focused on youth in Australia in 20 years. 

Organised by Youth Development Australia, this national conference will look at what has or hasn’t happened to address youth homelessness in the past 10 years, what works, what reforms are required and the development of a national agenda to advocate to Government.

The conference will involve keynote speeches from experts in the sector, panel discussions, a Q & A session, the release of a National Report Card on Youth Homelessness and the premiere of the follow-up to ‘The Oasis’ documentary - 10 years on, featuring many of the young people from the original documentary. 

For further information please click here.

Aged Homelessness Action Plan

The Minister for Senior Australians and Aged Care, the Hon Ken Wyatt AM, MP has commissioned a Homelessness Action Plan be developed to ensure older people experiencing, or at risk of, homelessness do not have any barriers to receiving a high-quality aged care service. 

The Homelessness Action Plan is a part of the Federal Government’s Aged Care Diversity Framework which was published late last year. The Framework was produced by a sub-group of the Aged Care Sector Committee following community consultation. 

Three separate action plans were identified originally which targeted the barriers and challenges faced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, those with culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds and lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex seniors. 

The Homelessness Action Plan was added after feedback was received from the sector to consider the needs for older homeless Australians. The Framework was designed to allow for further action plans to be considered as the need arises.

The Diversity Sub-group of the Aged Care Sector Committee is responsible for development of the Homelessness Action Plan. Housing for the Aged Action Group (HAAG) is working with a Reference Group and the Diversity sub-group to develop the Homelessness Action Plan.

HAGG is seeking feedback via two surveys. One for professionals, providers and services who work with older people, even those that are not specialised in providing services to people experiencing, or at risk of, homelessness. And one for people who have experienced homelessness or insecure housing and have tried to get into aged care.

Chief Executive Officer of Shelter WA, Ms Michelle Mackenzie encourages older people who have experienced or who are risk of homelessness to participate in the survey, along with service providers, so that the survey is informed by a Western Australian perspective.

“This Action Plan and the overall Framework is an important step forward for the future for aged care services in terms of inclusivity,” Ms Mackenzie said.

The survey closes on Friday, 8 February.”

Action Plan - Survey for Professionals and ProvidersAction Plan - Survey for Older People