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Detailed data on homelessness in each local government area in WA is available through the Australian Bureau of Statistics’ Census data, here.

We can end homelessness by adopting a whole of community approach.  As the sphere of government closest to the community, Local Government has a critical role to play.

The general competencies powers afforded to local government through the Local Government Act 1995 empower local government to focus on what is important to their local community.

Western Australian local governments are increasingly being called on by residents, business and communities to help end homelessness. In reply, many local governments have developed policies, strategies and plans that align with their broader strategic priorities, often partnering with other Councils or community organisations in their homelessness response.

The breadth of local government functions means responses can inform many portfolio areas, such as the development of homelessness policies and strategies, inclusion of affordable housing in local planning schemes, developing local laws which support people experiencing homelessness, and partnerships with community organisations for local services. Critical to success is local vision and leadership by Councils, with considered and evidence-based responses at a local and regional level.

All Paths Lead to a Home- Western Australia’s 10-Year Strategy on Homelessness 2020-2030 outlines a role for Western Australian local governments.

‘All local government authorities are well positioned, and some are adept, at facilitating local partnerships and coordinating place-based responses to homelessness in their community. They have crucial local knowledge and a key role in local planning decisions. Local governments know their locally based community or communities. They have an integral role in identifying people who are sleeping rough or experiencing other forms of homelessness and facilitating connections to help and support through information. The knowledge of place that sits with local government can be better used to inform resourcing decisions by State Government and to create places that are safe for people experiencing homelessness.’

Under the Strategy, some tangible ways local governments can help end homelessness in WA include:

  1. Making information on local services and supports available and accessible.
  2. Ensuring rangers and front-line staff are informed and supported to intersect with people experiencing homelessness and, where appropriate, refer them to local services.
  3. Working with police to support and refer people experiencing homelessness to local services and supports.
  4. Coordinating volunteer and charity groups through a place-based approach that better meets the needs of people experiencing homelessness.
  5. Utilising land and assets to create places that are inclusive and can support vulnerable people.

Local Governments can also play an important role by joining the WA Alliance to End Homelessness and contributing to the establishment and maintenance of advance-to-zero methodology in their communities.  In particular, Local Governments can play a key role by advocating for a by-name list to keep real-time, up to date evidence on homelessness in their communities; and training staff to help maintain a by-name list.

More information on advance to zero methodology and the by-name list can be found on the WA Alliance to End Homelessness website.

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