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Premier Roger Cook and Housing Minister John Carey announce lifelines for Geraldton housing crisis

Anna CoxGeraldton Guardian
Premier Roger Cookand Geraldton MP Lara Dalton at the ball court in the refurbished AMC Park in Spalding
Camera IconPremier Roger Cookand Geraldton MP Lara Dalton at the ball court in the refurbished AMC Park in Spalding Credit: Anna Cox

Premier Roger Cook and Housing Minister John Carey have announced a lifeline for a city on the brink of a housing crisis in the form of short stay accommodation for First Nations people and extra funding for social housing during a tour of Geraldton.

The Premier and Minister visited Bundiyarra Aboriginal Corporation on Wednesday, revealing the long-awaited short stay accommodation project at the facility would start construction on January 31.

Premier Roger Cook and Bundiyarra CEO Wayne McDonald
Camera IconPremier Roger Cook and Bundiyarra CEO Wayne McDonald Credit: Anna Cox

Forty-four units will house up to 100 First Nations Australians visiting Geraldton, with 16 single or couple rooms, 14 family rooms and 14 universally accessible rooms.

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“This is really important to ensure that people don’t sleep rough and have the appropriate support, wraparound services and affordable accommodation in a culturally appropriate environment,” Mr Cook said.

The $23.4 million building contract was awarded to GBSC Yurra, who will employ 10 Indigenous people during the construction process.

Geraldton MP Lara Dalton and Housing Minister John Carey
Camera IconGeraldton MP Lara Dalton and Housing Minister John Carey Credit: Anna Cox

Mr Carey said the accommodation was essential in breaking the cycle of rough sleeping, and Geraldton had been identified as one of the first locations in WA to eradicate homelessness.

“I’m hesitant to give a time frame, we’re conscious of the tight construction market right now,” Mr Carey said, although the State Government website states the completion date is estimated to be in 2025.

Geraldton MP Lara Dalton said the short stay accommodation would be a “game-changer” for Indigenous people visiting Geraldton, “whether it be for hospital, funerals or other services”.

New renders for Short Stay Aboriginal Accommodation which will begin construction on January 31
Camera IconNew renders for Short Stay Aboriginal Accommodation which will begin construction on January 31 Credit: Anna Cox

It was also announced that Geraldton would be the first regional location to kick off the regional Supportive Landlord Model boost, an initiative from the Cook Government to boost the number of social homes.

Thirteen social homes will be added in Geraldton, which will be given to community housing organisations through the Supportive Landlord Model (SLM) approach.

The program, which was piloted in Perth, has delivered more than 70 social homes to reduce rough sleeping, as an interim roof to sleep under before those experiencing homelessness find a more permanent solution.

It is a $5.2 million commitment to Geraldton, part of a $49 million statewide investment. The State Government will spot purchase homes to be added to Geraldton’s portfolio of social housing.

Shadow housing minister Steve Martin said a different approach was warranted, and new stock needed to be built in order for a tangible difference to be made to the housing crisis.

“You’re taking homes off the rental and purchasing market which is still essential accommodation for people,” he said.

City of Greater Geraldton Mayor Jerry Clune, Geraldton MP Lara Dalton, Premier Roger Cook and Housing Minister John Carey cut thr ribbon at the completed AMC Park in Spalding
Camera IconCity of Greater Geraldton Mayor Jerry Clune, Geraldton MP Lara Dalton, Premier Roger Cook and Housing Minister John Carey cut thr ribbon at the completed AMC Park in Spalding Credit: Anna Cox

During their tour of Geraldton, Mr Cook and Mr Carey formally opened the heart of the Spalding Urban Renewal Project, the AMC Park — a community hub for children and adults in the area.

The new playground, ball court, refurbished community centre, footpaths and road extensions are part of the second stage of the project, which comprised $4.9 million of the $9.3 million project.

It also included the refurbishment of social housing, to make Spalding a more vibrant suburb.

Twelve derelict and ageing social homes were demolished during the second stage, to make way for a new road which would better connect amenities in the suburb.

The refurbished AMC Park in Spalding as part of the Spalding Urban Renewal Plan
Camera IconThe refurbished AMC Park in Spalding as part of the Spalding Urban Renewal Plan Credit: Anna Cox

Of the 48 homes registered for refurbishment in Spalding, 26 have undergone major refurbishments to extend their useful life, with works underway on another 14 units.

To finish the day, Minister for Ports David Michael joined the Premier and Ms Dalton at the opening of the new Eastern Breakwater Jetty.

Dedicated to tourism, the jetty will assist in unlocking access to the Abrolhos Islands National Park, by providing a facility specifically designed for easy boarding and disembarking of passengers from commercial vessels.

Mr Michael said the jetty was open for public access “for now”, but a “safety call from the Mid West Port Authority will be made”.

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