Hostel’s drug ban to remain in force

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The Broome Aboriginal Short Stay Accommodation.
Camera IconThe Broome Aboriginal Short Stay Accommodation. Credit: Jakeb Waddell

The State Government has stood by its decision to ban alcohol and drug-affected visitors from staying at a new multimillion-dollar indigenous hostel following its official opening.

Housing Minister Peter Tinley officially launched the $20.1 million Broome Aboriginal Short Stay Accommodation last fortnight, which has been providing a safe place for people from surrounding communities to sleep since December.

The facility provides 80-100 beds that can be used by people for less than 28 days while visiting Broome for medical or social services; work or business; and funerals and amenities not available in remote areas, such as shopping.

Statistics provided by the Department of Communities show about 48 beds have been used each night since the facility opened on December 4.

The complex on Dickson Drive has a zero-tolerance policy for people under the influence of alcohol and drugs.

An article in the Broome Advertiser last month highlighted that businesses were at breaking point over itinerant people using their properties for sleeping, defecating and cooking, which prompted calls from community members for the BASSA to loosen its restrictions on substance abuse.

Member for the Kimberley Josie Farrer said she supported the ban implemented at the State Government facility.

“Allowing people who are under the influence of drugs or alcohol would create an unsafe environment for staff and visitors,” she said. “We know there are problems around Chinatown and other parts of Broome relating to homelessness and antisocial behaviour, and I’m working with my ministerial colleagues, government agencies and local organisations to address these issues.”

DOC regional service delivery assistant director Rachael Green said the aim of the complex was to offer a safe and secure place to stay.

“(It) is unable to accept people who are intoxicated or unwilling to abide by the facility rules regarding use of drug and alcohol,” she said.

“It is not a homeless shelter or a crisis accommodation facility, and guests seeking to stay at the facility need to advise of their reason for being in Broome, how long they are proposing to stay, and their return home date.”

Shire of Broome president Harold Tracey said the council was in favour of the conditions of entry.

“It was our understanding the the short-stay facility was there for people visiting town to access services, whether it be health, legal or personal,” he said.

“It is definitely not the answer to the problem of itinerant people in Broome.”

Broome Chamber of Commerce and Industry president Peter Taylor said the facility was a much-needed and welcome addition to the community, but was underused. “With a 60 per cent vacancy rate in the facility, maybe there is an opportunity to think outside the square and find ways to actively divert some of the itinerants sleeping out who are not affected by alcohol and drugs,” he said.

BASSA is managed by MercyCare in collaboration with Centacare Kimberley, Nirrumbuk Aboriginal Corporation and land owners Nyamba Buru Yawuru.

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