Tent city at Pioneer Park has attracted significant attention this week, and the Chamber is actively working to represent our member businesses who are often at the front line of anti-social behaviour, and homelessness in the City to ensuring their voice is heard.

There is a large difference between those in a situation of chronic homelessness, and those in Fremantle creating anti-social behavioural issues. The situation is complex and there are many government and community agencies addressing different parts of this challenging puzzle.

Even in relation to the growing presence of Tent City, it has been incredibly difficult for surrounding businesses being impacted to know who to call, what help can be provided and how to address a person under the influence, in need or in a traumatised mental health state.

We understand the complexities of the issue but firmly believe more policing, or a one off Tent City, isn’t the only answer. As an urban centre, Fremantle needs greater resources, service capacity and revised charters for our Community Service providers to act with compassion and strength to ensure we can work together to improve the atmosphere around Fremantle – both during the day, and late into the evening.

We are actively trying to find solutions, alongside other stakeholders, through our work with the leadership group of Imagined Futures, round tables like the one initiated recently by the City and other forums.

From the Chamber perspective, we welcome ways to come together to try to find solutions to this complex issue. We see a strong difference from those who come into Fremantle as an urban centre to gather, those sleeping rough and those who are experiencing the challenges of homelessness on a long term basis.

The Imagined Future’s Leadership Group (on which The Chamber is represented) noted increased requirements for those in need in their post COVID-19 action plan back in April, and we have been working with local Police, the City of Fremantle’s Community Safety team and other stakeholders to lobby the State Government for a more strategic approach to address those in need, or those who find themselves in Fremantle under the influence, without a roof over the heads or in a traumatised state.

The Chamber met in December with the Mayor, Councillors Director of Business, and Community Safety Team from the City of Fremantle, the Police, Representatives from the Minister’s Office and representatives from the Office of Director General Department of Communities. Some of following ideas were put forward for action were:

  • Creation of a safe space / sobering up centre somewhere south of the river to free up police resources, with suggested options for Dept of Communities to look at partnering with existing providers such as the Salvation Army or Palmerston House to provide this service. Currently Bridge House is the only temporary sober up type facility in the Perth metro area.
  • Ensure Fremantle CBD Liquor Stores demonstrate a business need to open earlier than 11am weekdays in an effort to reduce those coming into the City to fuel for the day,
  • More mental health support / intervention options within the City
  • More proactive charters within community patrols and other such services to directly assist those at a loose end
  • Information and training regarding services available so that our Fremantle businesses including retailers, hospitality staff, bank tellers and other service staff at the front line of this issue can refer on with compassion and know what to do when situations arise and they are trying to manage it within their workplace.
  • Inform and provide greater understanding of the services offered by the Dept. of Communities to help the homeless and Aboriginal communities currently in the CBD.

We eagerly await the audit currently being conducted by St Pats, in partnership with the Wungening Aboriginal Corporation, to assess the needs of each of the people in the camp and hope that with better understanding of their needs, we see these individuals get prompt access to the services they need, they find safe and appropriate accommodation, and tent city can be wound up to reduce the impact on surrounding businesses.

ABC NEWS: Fremantle Chamber of Commerce chief executive Danicia Quinlan says the tent city has highlighted bigger issues. Read more here: https://www.abc.net.au/news/2021-01-04/fremantle-mayor-brad-pettitt-calls-for-tent-city-to-be-cleared/13030334

(Image Credit : ABC News: Hugh Sando)