Premier Mark McGowan has been challenged to visit a bush shanty town in his electorate where residents face the threat of eviction.
One Nation senator Peter Georgiou yesterday met residents of the makeshift camp near Rockingham after The West Australian reported it was home to 17 people.
“In 2019, I am shocked to see squat camps in the bushes in Mr McGowan’s electorate,” Senator Georgiou said.
“I think that because it’s his area he needs to go down and actually talk to these people. Something is not right and has gone terribly wrong.”
Garry Eves, chief executive of local homelessness advocacy group The Crew, said the people sleeping rough in the camp needed the Premier’s help.
“Given it is his electorate, he should be able to go down and talk to them,” Mr Eves said.
“However, I think talking doesn’t help — something needs to be done. In this area there is a massive need for accommodation.”
Mr Eves said every week about 120 people in need of help received emergency supplies such as blankets, clothes and food.
The land on which the camp has been set up is owned by State development agency LandCorp, which two weeks ago issued the residents a move-on notice.
Mr McGowan said his Government had been told the number of people sleeping rough in Rockingham was considerably down on previous years.
But Shelter WA chief executive Michelle Mackenzie said the number of people accessing specialist homelessness services in Rockingham had increased 33 per cent over the past three years.
Ms Mackenzie said that 2087 people were on the waiting list for social housing in Perth’s south-west, with the average wait of 21/2 years.
“We know this leads to overcrowding, couch surfing, people living in their cars or camping because they cannot get a house,” she said.
“A single person on Newstart receives $277 each week, while the median rent for a one to two-bedroom house in Rockingham is $240 a week.
“There is not enough social and affordable housing and support services in this region to meet current need.”
LandCorp industrial lands general manager Andrew Williams said the City of Rockingham had taken on the task of finding alternative accommodation for the group.
He said the Street Outreach Service was now in regular contact with those living on the site.
According to the City of Rockingham’s homelessness directory, the only local crisis accommodation is women’s refuges and facilities for young people.