Perhaps it’s our remoteness, but it can be easy to forget that issues such as crime, labour shortages, rising prices and a lack of child care places aren’t unique to Broome and are being felt across the country. But with the unenviable record of some of the highest rental price increases in Australia and the highest in regional WA, and the lowest available occupancy levels, it’s no exaggeration to say Broome is at the epicentre of the national housing crisis. Headlines strewn across the pages of the Broome Advertiser since 2021 tell stories of working families facing homelessness or being driven out of town by high rents, visitors forced to camp illegally, and social issues caused by overcrowding. In 2021 three of the top four suburbs in Australia for rental price growth were in Broome, with Bilingurr, Old Broome and Djugan, along with Finlay in NSW, experiencing rises beyond 33 per cent. One factor in the spike in rental prices is the State Government paying more than the asking rental rate to house government workers. It’s quite ironic the Government is willing to spend more money to house its staff, while holding back from investing to actually help alleviate Broome’s housing crisis. While housing isn’t primarily a local government responsibility, the Shire last year prepared a business case for the Sanctuary Road Key Worker, Over 55s and Caravan Park site, which would be constructed by a private developer and include 91 long-stay residential homes for key workers. These works require $16.5 million in State Government grant funding to offset market failure and headwork costs, and I felt we came another step towards receiving this funding after a productive meeting with Regional Development Minister Don Punch during his visit to Broome last week. However, despite his pledge that the Government has made housing a key priority, we did not get a firm commitment to fund the Sanctuary Road headworks, with the Minister saying he would speak to other ministers. I know such things take patience and time, but our community is beyond the stage where we can afford either. There has been a lot of talking during the past two years but no real solutions. I reckon the Shire has a good one with Sanctuary Road so it’s now time for the Government to act.