•    New homeless shelter to offer 10 places for chronically homeless men/couples
•    Shelter to be named after Tom Fisher, St Vincent de Paul’s longest volunteer
•    $4million building on 278 Beaufort St, Highgate by second half of 2015

Work has commenced on a new homeless shelter in Highgate which will provide overnight accommodation for up to 10 chronically homeless men and couples.

Premier Colin Barnett and Child Protection Minister Helen Morton launched the pre-construction works at an official soil-turning ceremony this morning.  Mr Barnett said the initiative was a collaborative partnership between the State Government and St Vincent de Paul Society.

“The State Government is proud to support the building of a new $4million homeless shelter in Perth.  It is reflective of our commitment to working with the not-for-profit sector to improve support services to vulnerable West Australians,” Mr Barnett said.

“As St Vincent de Paul’s longest serving volunteer, it is fitting that Tom Fisher should be giving his name to this shelter, which will continue offering the same compassion, support and hope he has offered to so many during his time with the charity.”

The Premier said the project had its genesis in a meeting he had with the Heads of Churches in late 2010 where the issue of homelessness was raised.

“I would like to particularly acknowledge the then Archbishop Barry Hickey who worked with St Vincent de Paul and the State Government to pursue this proposal,” he said.

The Department for Housing has contributed $4million towards purchasing the land and capital works.  In addition, the Department for Child Protection and Family Support will fund the operations of the shelter, with investment of $1.4million over the next three years. St Vincent de Paul will operate the shelter.

Mrs Morton said Tom Fisher House would provide safe and secure accommodation to people who would otherwise be sleeping on the streets.

Tom Fisher House will offer overnight accommodation and link those using the shelter to other support services as required.  It will be staffed by a multidisciplinary team with health, mental health and drug and alcohol skills to assist visitors and support their move away from the cycle of homelessness,” she said.

The announcement follows Homeless Person’s Week, which saw activities across Australia to raise awareness of the challenges faced by those who do not have a permanent home.

In the past twelve months, the State Government has opened 107 new beds for homeless people, including Beacon (a shelter for men), Foyer Oxford (for young people aged 16-25), Busselton Women’s Refuge and an interim Tom Fisher House Night Shelter (for men over 18 years old).

In addition the Derby Aboriginal Short Stay Accommodation Service, with up to 54 places, is nearing completion and planning is under way for a new refuge for women and children in the Ellenbrook area.

Fact File
•    Tom Fisher House is expected to open in the second half of 2015
•    At 93 Tom Fisher has volunteered at St Vincent de Paul for more than 50 years, including as State President.  In 1941 Tom was a crew member on HMAS Sydney before it was destroyed off the WA coast
•    The State Government’s Affordable Housing Strategy 2010-2020: Opening Doors to Affordable Housing, is helping West Australians progress towards owning their own home. This Department for Housing scheme is ahead of target, already delivering more than 15,000 of the 20,000 affordable housing opportunities this strategy aims to provide by 2020
•    In 2014-15, about $75million of State and Commonwealth funding will be provided through the National Affordable Housing Agreement and the National Partnership Agreement on Homelessness

Media contacts:
Premier’s office: Rachel Donkin - 6552 5200 or 0417 588 119
Child Protection Minister’s office: Lucy Coleman - 6552 6900 or 0428 564 073