Bunbury city councillors commit to funding shelter

Stuart McGuckinSouth Western Times
The homeless community that often sleeps at the Graham Bricknell Memorial Music Shell will be better sheltered within three months.
Camera IconThe homeless community that often sleeps at the Graham Bricknell Memorial Music Shell will be better sheltered within three months. Credit: South Western Times

Bunbury City Council will build a “street-sleeper shelter” for the homeless.

The concept had so much support that the council voted to fund the shelter this financial year.

It means those sleeping rough at the Graham Bricknell Memorial Music Shell — the homeless community the initiative is aimed at — will have a shelter within three months.

The shelter was among a raft of projects that the council voted to include in its 15-year plan.

Chief executive Mal Osborne’s recommendation to refer the matter to the “responsible” agencies lapsed at the council’s meeting this week and Cr Murray Cook put up a motion to build the shelter by dipping into the council’s surplus.

It is expected the shelter will be located at the Rivers store carpark, taking up two bays and costing the council $15,000.

Cr Cook said the carpark was the ideal location and while the shelter would not fix the problem, it was part of the solution.

“The executive recommendation suggested that other agencies are responsible to accommodate the homeless and those sleeping rough — that may be true but there is still people who fall through the cracks,” Cr Cook said.

“This construction would be a win-win situation ... it’s not fixing the problem, it’s not the final solution but it’s part of the solution.”

The initiative was put forward by Mayor Gary Brennan who said he, along with several councillors and Mr Osborne, had spoken to the homeless.

“They acknowledge they have significant mental health problems, they can’t live with others, they find it almost impossible to live in an enclosed space, they prefer to be — as they describe themselves — street sleepers,” he said. “It’s something that we as a council can do.”

The council voted 11-1 for the shelter with Cr Michelle Steck saying it wouldn’t fix the problem.

Cr Steck suggested the vacant Souths Furniture building in the CBD was a more suitable solution.

“It’s a stone’s throw down from the police station, you can put an electronic lock on the outside, give them a combination, there’s a toilet in there ... I know it’s not a final solution, it’s a temporary solution,” she said.

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