Council to extend Safe Night Space

The Safe Night Space has succeeded but some women wait long hours to get let in at 7pm.

THE Safe Night Space for women in East Perth has been granted another six months’ funding from Perth council to keep operating until November 30.

A split council also voted to look into continuing the service in other locations after it vacates the Rod Evans Centre, a proposal that was described by Cr Brent Fleeton as a “horrible decision” in a statement he then withdrew.

The SNS was due to close in May but several women staying there told us they’d have nowhere to go, as few other women-specific shelters had a similar low barrier to entry.

The council will spend around $724,000 for the six-month extension, funding service provider Ruah to operate the shelter in hopes that by November the state government will have opened more shelters.

Councillor Sandi Anghie moved an amendment requesting council staff “investigate the feasibility of continuing this service or a version of this service at another location” and report back to council.

Cr Anghie said “there’s a need for a gender-specific location of this kind… the program has already demonstrated its impact.” Cr Anghie’s motion was supported by Crs Viktor Ko, Liam Gobbert, Di Bain, and Clyde Bevan.

Lord mayor Basil Zempilas voted against that plan along with Crs Fleeton, Catherine Lezer, and Rebecca Gordon.

Cr Fleeton said “what you’ve done here is basically written a blank cheque on behalf of ratepayers that we are going to stay in service delivery in this area, where it was supposed to be a short-term trial… why would the state government now do anything in this space knowing the majority of people in this room, who’s in control of the budget, are happy with potentially continuing this service?

“I just think this was a horrible decision that some people in this room have made not fully thinking about it,” Cr Fleeton said, before Mr Zempilas reminded him it was just a feasibility investigation, and suggested he might like to leave comments like ‘horrible decision’ out of the chamber.

“Alright,” Cr Fleeton said. “The ratepayers will say that, and I’ll withdraw it.”

The Rod Evans Centre used to be a community centre used by seniors and boardgame enthusiasts before the previous council closed it down in 2017. It was empty for four years before the SNS trial, and the council now wants it to be a community centre again.

A council report said having the shelter there also seemed to deter use of the nearby playground. The council’s Citywatch security service fielded 53 calls over issues at the SNS in the first 18 months.


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