Opposition calls on Government to review priority housing waitlist process

Sep 2, 2023 | State News, Steve Martin MLC

The State Opposition is calling for the Government to review the priority housing waitlist process after reports today of the deaths of two baby boys within weeks of each other while their families were homeless.

“This is an incredibly difficult time for those families as they grieve and come to terms with their loss and I want to express my sincere condolences to them,” Shadow Housing Minister Steve Martin said.

“Unfortunately, without a stable home it is difficult for people to get the help they need, more difficult for support services to provide help to families and the potential risk of tragedies increases.

“Even for families on the priority waitlist, it is taking the Cook Labor Government more than a year, on average, to find them a home.

“In the meantime, these desperate people are forced to make do with whatever options they have available and while some of those options are safe and viable, others involve families being forced to make difficult choices they know are not optimal.

“What a dreadful and heartbreaking position to be put in as a parent.”

As of July 31, there were 33,943 people on the social housing waitlist, with 9,447 priority applications.

The average time it takes to be housed in WA is 135 weeks for the general waitlist and 74 weeks for the priority list.

Figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics show WA has the highest proportion of people of any state living in improvised dwellings, tents, or sleeping out.

The number of rough sleepers in WA has more than doubled since 2016.

Mr Martin called on the Cook Government to give serious thought to improving the way the priority waitlist operates.

In June 2023, the Standing Committee on Estimates and Financial Operations published a report into the funding of homelessness services in WA.

“One of the recommendations that came out of that inquiry was the need to expedite the current system for priority assistance with a ‘needs assessment’ process, to better identify priority needs for housing assistance,” Mr Martin said.

“It’s very disappointing that the Cook Government, given the options to ‘support, support in principle, not support or note’ chose only to note the recommendation.

“I call on the Cook Government to urgently review their response to that recommendation and reform the way the priority waitlist process works.”