Short-stay unit pledgeto help tackle social woes

Taylar AmoniniNorth West Telegraph

In a pre-election visit to the Pilbara, WA Premier Colin Barnett has announced a “first-step” plan to create short-stay accommodation in South Hedland to reduce social, health and safety problems.

Visiting Two Mile on Sunday afternoon, Mr Barnett met Town of Port Hedland Mayor Camilo Blanco along with Pilbara Liberal candidate Mark Alchin to see for themselves the rubbish and destruction going on in the South Hedland camp.

In response to the growing attention alcohol and antisocial issues were gaining in Port Hedland and the state of Two Mile, Mr Barnett announced on site a plan to develop South Hedland Short-Stay Aboriginal Accommodation.

“It’s very obvious that a lot of people (who) come in from other communities are staying in places like this (the Two Mile camp), causing antisocial behaviour, and some town people are also coming here,” he said.

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“So it’s becoming a growing problem and that’s unacceptable.

“It’s not going to solve the problem but it’s a necessary first step.”

The facility would emulate the Kalgoorlie-Boulder accommodation, which has the capacity to house 40 people at any time.

“The approach we’ve taken in Kalgoorlie is the State Government would contract a not-for-profit organisation to actually manage it, run it as a dry location and that obviously allows them to check on the health of residents, their children and so on.”

Mr Barnett said the accommodation would contribute to closing the gap on health and homelessness by addressing overcrowded households and sleeping in the parks surrounding South Hedland Shopping Centre.

“The capital construction of the facility is expected to be approximately $5 million, and the recurrent operating cost, subject to a tender process, in the order of $1.2 million,” Mr Barnett said, adding that in 2016 more than 4000 nights accommodation was provided by the Kalgoorlie-Boulder facility.

In addition to his pledge for short-stay accommodation in South Hedland, Mr Barnett outwardly supported the adoption of further alcohol restrictions on the Hedland community, urging the Federal Government to support a cashless welfare card if it was to be introduced throughout the Pilbara.

Mr Barnett also took time to visit Hedland Senior High School during his visit to Port Hedland, announcing a $5 million upgrade to the local high school if re-elected this month.

The upgrade funds would come from the proceeds of the partial sale of Western Power and will be channelled into new classrooms, design and technology, visual arts and the sports hall as well as new facilities to cover over the hard court. Mr Barnett said the upgrade was urgently needed by the school, which was opened in 1971.

“Hedland Senior High has a fine reputation in promoting academic excellence and providing a supportive place to learn,” he said.

“The commitment we are announcing today will further modernise the learning environment. This school is a great example of how a community works together to provide a variety of educational opportunities that are the envy of many schools across Western Australia.”

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