Inside Housing - February 21/2020

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

Inside this edition...

  • A review of Aboriginal housing policy and programs and their intersection with health policy is about to be released. We chat to the reports' authors.

  • Shelter WA are inviting organisations that provide homelessness services which may be completely unfunded, or partly funded by Government, to complete a short survey.
  • And the McGowan Government is adopting nearly all of the recommendations from the inquiry into short-stay accommodation.


Plus heaps more including, a look back at the ABC 7.30 four-part housing special examining a number of housing related issues from Australia's housing markets to housing affordability.

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.

Non-Government Contributions

Shelter WA are inviting organisations that provide homelessness services which may be completely unfunded, or partly funded by Government, to complete this short survey.

Shelter WA is building on the work of the WA Alliance to End Homelessness to better understand the level of the sector's funding contribution to homeless services in Western Australia. This data will assist Shelter WA to gauge the level of funding in the homelessness service system. The information you provide will inform our advocacy efforts.

Complete the survey here:

This survey uses the Department of Communities' homelessness services criteria for data collection consistency. For the purpose of this survey homelessness services are defined as a dedicated service that directly assists those experiencing homelessness or at risk of homelessness.

This survey will take 5-15 minutes depending on how many services you have. This survey is open until Friday 13 March 2020. All the information provided is completely confidential. For further information or any queries, please contact Jack Thornton via (08) 9325 6660 or

If the survey does not apply to you or your organisation, please share this link with any organisations you believe should complete the survey. 


Housing Possibilities

Housing workshops are being presented around Western Australia to explain the housing options and supports possible under the NDIS, including Specialist Disability Accommodation.

Who these workshops are for:

  • NDIS participants and their families
  • Housing providers
  • Specialist Disability Accommodation providers
  • Supported Independent Living (SIL) providers
  • NDIS support coordinators
  • NDIS allied health professionals
  • Community members

Why you should attend:

The information session will help you understand the housing options and supports available under the NDIS. This will include information about Specialist Disability Accommodation.


The workshop will be presented by the Summer Foundation, which was founded in 2006 to resolve the issue of younger people with disability being forced to live in aged care.

Workshop Dates & Locations:

Time: 10am - 3pm. Cost: Free.

| Broome. Monday 16 March 2020. Book here.  |  Port Hedland. Wednesday 18 March 2020. Book here

| Karratha. Thursday 19 March 2020. Book here.

Save the Date:

Tuesday 5 May 2020 Broome. | Wednesday 6 May 2020 Perth. | Thursday 7 May 2020 Geraldton. |

Tuesday 2 June 2020 Albany. | Thursday 4 June 2020 Wheatbelt.







Moore Street Homelessness Services

The delivery of accredited homelessness services has started from a new location in Moore Street between Royal Perth Hospital and McIver Train Station. 

The City of Perth spent more than $140,000 on the location touting it as a ‘one-stop-shop for the homeless’. The money is being spent on extra security, lighting, cleaning crews and CCTV. 

Moore Street has limited traffic since the closure of its level crossing in 2019. Previously services were delivered from an ad hoc location at 324 Wellington Street near Perth City YHA.

Site delivery runs weeknights from 4.30pm to 8.30pm and on Sunday morning from 8.00am to 11.30am. It features food, health, shower and laundry services from several different providers. 

The City of Perth has designed redirection maps for client referral. Click here.

RenewWA Climate Action

Shelter WA has joined an alliance of Western Australian community organisations who are demanding an immediate reduction in carbon emissions and increased investment in non-polluting, job-creating industries and carbon offsetting in the state.

RenewWA is an alliance of faith groups, farmers, trade unions, health workers, social services organisations, environmental groups and others who have called on the State Government to take advantage of the renewables boom and for WA’s largest polluters to offset their greenhouse gas emissions.

The combined plea to the State Government points to significant opportunities for job creation and economic development in offsetting the high carbon emissions from WA’s gas industry and the growing world market for clean energy.

Shelter WA’s Graduate Policy Officer Ainsley Jones attended the launch at Cottesloe Beach among 30 other community organisations uniting for clean jobs and emissions reduction. The Alliance is pushing the State Government to introduce mandatory energy efficiency standards to all rental properties.

“Improving the energy efficiency of homes is an important way to address poverty by reducing people’s energy bills and the broader costs associated with energy in Western Australia,” said Shelter WA CEO Michelle Mackenzie. 

“It forms an essential part of responding to climate change.” 

Low-income households are particularly vulnerable to the health impacts of heatwaves and rising temperatures. Access to low-cost energy from residential solar, batteries or energy-efficient appliances is currently out of reach for many, especially if they don’t own their own home. Investment in schemes to provide access to affordable renewable energy and energy efficiency measures needs to be prioritised, including in regional and remote areas.

Members of RenewWA, in addition to supporting vulnerable households and communities are also asking for immediate action on climate change by the State Government through the following elements:

Just Transition:

Support for workers and communities to transition from fossil fuel industries so that we leave nobody behind. Greater investment is needed in alternative industries to provide paid training and skills development for workers to move without disadvantage into reliable, quality local jobs and to take advantage of our abundant renewable energy resources and high-skilled workforce.

Immediate reduction of carbon pollution:

The Paris Agreement demands an immediate reduction in carbon pollution, and this is a critical goal that must be reflected in WA Government climate change policy.

Science-based targets for WA:

Science-based carbon pollution reduction targets must be adopted for WA in order to ensure that our state makes a fair and equitable contribution to global climate change efforts, consistent with the Paris Agreement. Interim targets must be adopted to achieve the global need to reduce carbon pollution to net zero emissions by 2050.

Controls on LNG pollution:

Requiring existing LNG projects to reduce and offset emissions is an essential first step in controlling WA’s emissions growth and delivering new jobs in clean industries in regional WA communities. LNG developments must be required to offset all pollution as recommended by WA’s independent Environmental Protection Authority and offsets must be made with local projects.

A Just Transition away from gas extraction:

Gas as a fossil fuel contributes significantly to climate change and a just transition away from gas extraction is needed. Recent reports have identified that the threat to the climate from LNG expansion is as great as, or greater than coal. The IPCC has identified the median near-term reduction for natural gas use as 15% by 2030 and 43% by 2050 in order to meet the temperature goals established under the Paris Agreement.

Protecting and increasing natural carbon stores:

Action is needed to rapidly reduce logging and land clearing to protect natural carbon stores and support natural carbon sequestration and habitat including revegetation, ecosystem restoration and tree-farming. Support is required for regenerative agriculture and community driven land care and natural resource management.

You can read the RenewWA Joint Call for Climate Action in WA here.




Short-Stay Accommodation

Shelter WA is pleased to see that the State Government has responded positively to the recommendations of the Legislative Assembly Inquiry into short-stay accommodation, by committing to adopt most of the recommendations.

In our evidence to the Legislative Assembly’s public hearing last June, Shelter WA called for a light touch regulatory system be introduced for all short-stay accommodation options listed on portals like Airbnb. This is a good first step to ensuring a level playing field for commercial and individual operators and a system for collecting base line data on the extent of private rentals existing the rental system that can impact the availability of affordable rental options.

The inquiry, which began in 2018, investigated the rise of short-stay accommodation in WA and received over 260 submissions into this issue.

In Shelter WA’s initial submission (and supplementary submission), we argued that the short-stay accommodation sector is reshaping housing tenure and structure in private housing markets. There are direct effects on affordability, particularly in localised areas, tourism specific areas and by distorting the role of residential housing from being a home to a commercial venture.

Led by Jessica Shaw MLA, this inquiry presented 10 recommendations to improve outdated and inconsistent policy governing short-term rentals, and create greater certainty for the tourism industry, accommodation providers and guests.

The inquiry found that short-term rentals are a genuine income source for some people and are increasingly widely used by guests; however, there was no regulation of the industry and numerous examples of adverse impacts on neighbours and local communities. The State Government adopted a whole-of-Government approach to the recommendations.

At least 20,000 owners of short-term rental properties must now register their details with an interagency working group established by the State Government to guide local governments and accommodation providers through the registration system.

Other actions the Government will take include:

• amending land use definitions to differentiate between hosted and un-hosted accommodation.
• investigating the introduction deemed provisions into all planning schemes for hosted accommodation to be exempt from local government approval.
• developing legislative or regulatory mechanisms to require the display of a valid registration number for short-term rentals advertised on online platforms.
• updating strata title guidance to include powers and processes open to strata companies to manage short-term rentals; and
• development of an education campaign to ensure owners, property managers and purchasers are aware of their obligations regarding short-term rental properties.

Read the full report including the recommendations by clicking the document.

Homelessness Inquiry

The House of Representatives Standing Committee on Social Policy and Legal Affairs has launched an inquiry into homelessness in Australia. It will seek to understand the factors that contribute to people becoming homeless.

More than 116,000 people were estimated to be homeless in Australia on Census night in 2016. Among them were people living in severely crowded dwellings, people living in temporary accommodation, and rough sleepers. On any given night in Western Australia, around 9,000 people can be considered to be homeless.

The terms of reference cover a broad spectrum of areas relating to the problem particularly:

- the incidence of homelessness in Australia; 

- factors affecting the incidence of homelessness, including housing-market factors; 

- the causes of, and contributing factors to, housing overcrowding; 

- opportunities for early intervention and prevention of homelessness; 

- services to support people who are homeless or at risk of homelessness, including housing assistance, social housing, and specialist homelessness services; 

- support and services for people at particular risk of homelessness; 

- suitability of mainstream services for people who are homeless or at risk of homelessness; 

- examples of best-practice approaches in Australia and internationally for preventing and addressing homelessness; 

- the adequacy of the collection and publication of housing, homelessness, and housing affordability related data; and 

- governance and funding arrangements in relation to housing and homelessness, particularly as they relate to the responsibility of Local, State, Territory and Federal Governments.

Shelter WA will develop its own submission in partnership with the sector and people with lived experience of homelessness.

The Committee will accept written submissions until 9 April 2020. Further information about the inquiry, including further detail about the terms of reference, is available on the inquiry webpage.

Walk Through Sessions

Are you interested in participating in co-designing the future of the homelessness system?

Following their first co-design session for the No Wrong Door approach, the team at Department of Communities are holding a “walk through” of the workshop space where you can see the insights generated and feedback into the process.

Come along at 3pm to 4pm, Monday 10 February 2020 to John McGrath Pavilion in South Perth to join in.

For more information click here.

Inside Housing - February 6/2020

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

Inside this edition...

  • How to scale-up energy solutions in the WA Community Housing Sector, through third-party entities.

  • The Make Renting Fair Alliance hold submission workshops on the back of the Residential Tenancies Act review.
  • And participants develop actions to end homelessness in Geraldton.

Plus heaps more including, the first of several information sessions about the WA Impact Fund has been held and St Bart's has a new CEO.

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.

Impact Investment Fund

The first of several information sessions about the WA Impact Fund – Western Australia's first investment fund to deliver measurable social, environmental and financial returns – has been held.

The Fund, seeded at $20M by cornerstone investor WA Super and managed by Impact Investment Group, will support both asset based social and environmental impact investment projects, as well as social enterprises that deliver impact across sustainability, social mobility and inclusion.

As a delivery partner for the Fund, Impact Seed worked with fund partners in development of an investment mandate. Some investment opportunities already identified include rooftop solar, batteries and energy efficiency for community assets, which includes community housing, aged care, schools, childcare and community centres.

Social Impact Investing is an emerging, outcomes-focussed approach that brings together governments, service providers, investors and communities to tackle a range of complex policy, social and environmental issues. It provides governments with an alternative and innovative mechanism to address social and environmental issues, while also leveraging government and private sector capital, building a stronger culture of robust evaluation and evidence-based decision making, and creating a heightened focus on outcomes, to the ultimate benefit of the users of services.

Shelter WA believes this is just the start to a significant opportunity to increase the supply of social and affordable housing through social impact investing, specifically through large scale institutional investment.

Shelter WA hosted a recent workshop in partnership with CHIA WA, BOOM! and the Impact Investment Group to discuss energising the community housing sector and how blended finance models could assist with this.

Further information sessions are being held about the WA Impact Fund. Click here to register your interest.

Mental Health Services

The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) have updated their Mental health services in Australia web report.

An average of $400 was spent per person on mental health-related services in Australia during 2017-18, according to new figures within the report. It also shows almost $10 billion was spent nationally on mental health services in 2017–18 in Australia.

The purpose of the continually updated report is to provide statistical data surrounding mental health services in Australia. Updated data with section revisions up to the 30 January 2020 included in this web report are:

  • Mental Health Expenditure,
  • Mental Health Facilities data,
  • Restrictive practices data,
  • Medicare data,
  • and Prescriptions data.

The release also provides new data on the use of restrictive practices in mental health facilities, and builds on previous data about the use of seclusion and restraint in mental health facilities.

In addition to the updated web report The Mental health services - In brief is produced annually. In brief provides an overview of data about the national response of the health and welfare system to the mental health care needs of Australians.

Mental illness can significantly impact an individual(s), families, friends and communities and can influence society as a whole. For this reason, Shelter WA recognises the significance of mental illness to society and understand the social problems commonly associated with mental illness including poverty, unemployment, reduced opportunities, reduced productivity and homelessness.

For further reading visit the web report landing page here.

Click to read Mental health services: in brief 2019 (released annually) the companion publication to the updated web report.






Energising the Housing Sector

Shelter WA hosted the Energising the Community Housing Sector event in collaboration with the Community Housing Industry Association WA, BOOMPower Pty Ltd, and Impact Investment Group.

This was a roundtable discussion event on the options for scaling-up energy solutions in the WA Community Housing Sector.

During the workshop, Michelle Mackenzie, CEO of Shelter WA, highlighted community housing as a key part of an effective housing system, and the need for the sector to focus on good housing choices and outcomes for tenants.

The key issue Australia faces when trying to provide energy-efficient solutions for tenants is the split incentive, where landlords pay for energy retrofits, but tenants receive the benefits.

With Western Australia experiencing significant increases in energy costs over the past decade and many people live in homes that are unhealthy across varying temperatures, and the threat of temperate rises as a result of climate change, it is now more important than ever to devise solutions for retrofitting energy-efficient solutions to community housing.

Alex Houlston, Director of BOOMPower, discussed the work BOOM! in partnership with Community Housing Industry Association Victoria have been doing and cases of completed projects that provided successful energy-efficient retrofits onto community houses. While Jeremy Burke, Head of Product and Strategy at Impact Investment Group, presented on the potential business models and financing options community housing providers could explore.

After discussions and a collaboration of ideas to end the workshop, it was clear that there is a keen interest to create a group that will continue discussions in the space.

With a focus on housing affordability and reducing living costs for tenants, Shelter WA hopes from these discussions to continue to drive improved outcomes for tenants and the community sector through solutions which will reduce electricity costs for tenants within community housing.

 [L-R] Sam Tidswell, Investment Associate at Small Giants/IIG; Alex Houlston, Director of BOOM!; Amanda Goodman, Head of Syndication & Director, Giant Leap at IIG; Jeremy Burke, Head of Product Strategy at IIG.

Make Renting Fair

Make Renting Fair

It has been more than 10 years since the Residential Tenancies Act 1987 (WA) was last reviewed. With that in mind, the Make Renting Fair Alliance, comprised of a coalition of Western Australia’s key community organisations, including Shelter WA ran a Make Renting Fair Campaign workshop for concerned renters, advocates and the social services sector. 

More than 40 people attended workshops which ran over two days.

[L-R] Trish Owen from Tenants' Action Group WA and Vachel Spirason from Tenancy WA

Using the Tenancy Ten, the ten key issues of concern identified by the Alliance which need to be addressed, participants learnt some tactical skill to help them push for change. 

One part of the workshop covered how to lobby a Member of Parliament. This session was run by Sharryn Jackson who was the Member for Hasluck from 2001 to 2004 and again in 2007 to 2010. Ms Jackson also covered how personal rental stories could be shared through the media.

The session concluded with a look at the process of making a submission.

Participants at the workshop.

Vachel Spirason who helped run the session said it was a great opportunity to gather support for much needed changes.

“The campaign workshops were a wonderful opportunity to connect with a wide cross section of tenants who are all keen to make renting fair in WA," he said.

"The diversity of attendees goes to show how broadly the issues of rental reform touch our whole community. We know more people are renting now than ever before and they are doing it for longer, in many cases they will be renting for life. As such, people just want renting to offer a safe, secure and affordable place to call home. Unfortunately at the moment our tenancies act doesn’t give people that. I believe that’s why we have had so many people sign up to the workshops and also respond to our online survey which currently has 800 responses and counting.”

Participants at the workshop.

The Residential Tenancies Act is currently being reviewed. You can make your submission here.



Geraldton Housing Forum

Participants involved in a housing and homelessness forum in Geraldton have come away with a list of actions to end homelessness by better understanding the nature and size of the issue within their community and how best to collaboratively respond.

Organised by Darren West MLC the Member for the Agricultural Region the forum brought local community groups and Perth based not-for-profit organisations including Shelter WA together to discuss issues and drive solutions.

Leah Watkins and Michala McMahon, from the Ruah led 50 Lives 50 Homes program provided an overview of the key steps to a Housing First approach to ending homelessness and encouraged participants to work together to run a Connections Week in Geraldton as the first step.

Connections Week – which has run successfully in several other Australian cities – identifies the most vulnerable people and kickstarts collaborative work to proactively meet these needs. During Connections Week teams of volunteers conduct early morning surveys (using the VI-SPDAT tool) of people they find sleeping out in their community. Surveys are also completed at key services attended by people experiencing homelessness. At the end of the week, a launch event is held to present the results of the surveys to key stakeholders to demonstrate what is happening in the community and to invite stakeholders to become part of a collaborate response to address identified needs.

Connections Week also represents a significant contribution to the By-Name List which gathers data and drives systems change to end homelessness. The By-Name List establishes a baseline of the number of homeless people in a community, which is updated on a monthly basis. The List can be used by using the postcode where surveys are undertaken to identify the number of people found to be homeless in a defined area, map month by month the number of people who are newly identified in that area and how many of these people leave and/or return to homelessness.

A By-Name List is an evidence based approach to produce actionable data which helps measure progress towards ending homelessness. The data supports system performance evaluation, informs system improvements, and assists in setting goals around key indicators such as increasing the number of people housed each month or reducing inflow of homeless.

Other solutions discussed at the forum included the need to develop tenant ready housing, energy efficient housing and renovation of existing Department of Communities housing stock. Also to increase the diversity and affordability of local housing, and implement new initiatives such as rental assisted pathway program, accommodation for men and a short stay facility.

It was identified that critical to success was strengthening support networks and information sharing and ensuring that the community has access to housing data from the Department of Communities.

A working group has been established to drive initiatives in Geraldton. Shelter WA looks forward to working with this group as their work unfolds.




Pre-Budget Submission

National Shelter has responded to the Treasurer’s call for pre-budget submissions with a submission based on their policy platform, and the need for a new affordable housing ‘booster’ - a concept developed by the Community Housing Industry Association (CHIA) which would create an affordable rental pipeline into the future if accepted by government.

National Shelter continues to call on the government to provide a growth fund for public and community housing, increases to Commonwealth Rent Assistance, tax reforms and other measures.

This year they have also asked for additional funding for the Northern Territory to enable it to respond to the extraordinary levels of homelessness experienced in the NT. The submission will be available on the Treasury website once the deadline has expired.

Shelter WA is currently finalising a state based submission which will be released shortly.