City opens new safe night space

Photo Caption: A smoking ceremony prepares the Safe Night Space ahead of opening day. Photo supplied

THE Safe Night Space for women has opened in the Rod Evans Centre and has seen 53 women take shelter there in its first eight days.

Perth city council originally planned to open the space by late January or early February, but were unable to get state government funding to help cover the $3.1 million cost of a two-year trial.

The Rod Evans Centre had also fallen to bits since the council closed the seniors centre in 2016. It needed far more extensive repairs than planned, adding $250,000 on top of the original $575,000 of fixes. 

But it finally opened on May 31 with not-for-profit Ruah providing services on site. 

Perth lord mayor Basil Zempilas says: “On 53 occasions, women who would otherwise have slept rough on our streets came in from the cold and spent the night safe and warm with a roof over their head.

“Importantly, they have also been able to make a connection with the wrap around services provided or facilitated by RUAH.

“As lord mayor I am proud the City of Perth is stepping up to help those people who are most vulnerable in our community.”

He said a safe night space for men would open in the next month. 

It’s a two-month trial at the at the train station’s Citiplace Centre, costing $80,000 to upgrade the building and $150,000 to staff it with service providers and security. 

The safe night spaces are hangout spots with no beds. Installing beds means meeting far higher building regulations that’d cost about $500,000 and take another three months to get Citiplace up to scratch.

Mr Zempilas again said homelessness was a state government responsibility but given their plan is a long-term one, “in the meantime something needs to be done”. 

More than 400 people were sleeping rough in Perth according to April’s count, and the council expects state government solutions will take about three years to come online. 

by DAVID BELL

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