Exmouth staff camping, living with desperate employers due to lack of worker accommodation

Phoebe PinMidwest Times
Exmouth town centre.
Camera IconExmouth town centre. Credit: Tom Zaunmayr.

Business owners in the tourism hotspot of Exmouth are resorting to hosting staff in their homes and in tents in their backyards because of a critical lack of worker accommodation.

Workers across all industries are in high demand on the back of a busy tourism season, but prospective staff struggling to find rentals are reporting they are unable to fill job vacancies.

Exmouth business owner Rhys Clatworthy has recently hired staff members living in his house, saying he would not be able to fill positions if he could not promise workers a place to stay.

“If we didn’t have that accommodation to offer, we would get no applicants whatsoever,” he said.

“There seems to be no accommodation whatsoever.”

Mr Clatworthy said residents had also been affected by housing shortages. “I have friends who are having to leave Exmouth after living here for 10 years,” he said.

Exmouth Chamber of Commerce and Industry operations and projects manager Sarah Booth said Mr Clatworthy was not alone in his situation.

“I have even heard of one business owner thinking about moving into their caravan and staying in their backyard and then letting their staff have the house,” she said. “I have also heard of people just literally pitching tents in people’s backyards.”

The McGowan Government in March made an election commitment to fast-track the launch of expressions of interest for local companies to build workers’ accommodation on State-owned land.

But Ms Booth said the EOIs had yet to open as expected.

“That was supposed to have happened at the end of last month, however we haven’t seen anything happen in that space yet,” she said.

Ms Booth said there was concern the lot of land earmarked for development would not be attractive to private investors.

“If the one block was well positioned and attractive enough it would be fine but the lot that has been earmarked, we are concerned it will not be attractive to a private investor and we think it is really important that all three lots are included so that options are there and it is really going to stimulate the interest we need,” she said.

“We are really trying to push to get something more centrally located in town which will be more suitable for the people who will be staying in the facility, knowing that not all of them have individual cars.”

The Department of Planning, Lands and Heritage was contacted for comment.

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