Perth Women's Shelter Relocation Approved

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Perth Women's Shelter Relocation Approved

Perth Lord Mayor Basil Zemplias has reversed his stance on relocating a women's shelter to a new Northbridge location. Despite previously expressing strong opposition, Zempilas now supports the proposal. The Safe Night Space, which provided shelter for vulnerable women, closed nearly three months ago amid a disagreement between the City of Perth and state government over funding and a suitable location.

Two competing plans emerged to reopen the service. The state government favored the proposal from Ruah, the original service operator, while the City of Perth preferred a competing plan from Uniting WA. Homelessness Minister John Carey committed funding to Ruah, but the service required planning approval from the City of Perth.

Zempilas initially voiced concerns about the proposed James Street location due to its proximity to an entertainment precinct and residential areas. However, he now acknowledges that it is the only location currently being considered. He believes that rejecting the application would only delay the reopening and lead to government intervention.

Ruah CEO Debra Zanella welcomes the mayor's support but expresses concerns about the city's willingness to collaborate and manage the service. Minister Carey shares similar concerns, citing politicization of the issue and public campaigns against Ruah.

Experts believe that the closure of the Safe Night Space has left many women vulnerable, with reports of sexual assaults in nearby parks. The mayor maintains that the situation could have been avoided if the government had provided funding earlier.

If the council rejects the planning proposal, it is likely to be appealed to the State Administrative Tribunal, where the minister could potentially intervene and make the decision himself. However, if the proposal is approved by the council, the city would retain oversight of community safety and engagement with neighbors. Premier Roger Cook supports the proposal, highlighting Ruah's expertise in operating such facilities.