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New safe house provides respite for Perth’s rough sleepers

Western Australian Premier Colin Barnett with Shirley Fisher, wife of the late Mr Tom Fisher, WA Child Protection Minister Andrea Mitchell and SVDP CEO Mark Fitzpatrick. Photo: Supplied

A new safe house for the homeless will continue offering the same compassion, support and hope of its namesake.

The new Tom Fisher House, located in the suburb Highgate, is now in operation, with Perth’s rough sleepers now able to enjoy the new surroundings.

The new service of St Vincent De Paul Society was opened on Tuesday, 9 August by Premier Colin Barnett, alongside Shirley Fisher, wife of the late Mr Tom Fisher.

Mr Fisher passed away on 4 June this year, aged 95, however he did tour the site as it was being constructed.

Previously running out of an interim location, Tom Fisher House provides a safe sleep for up to 12 people, including couples, for up to seven nights for long term rough sleepers, along with access to meals, clothing and bedding, medical assistance, referrals to drug and alcohol, mental health and other support services.

Part of the Street to Home Program and funded by the Department of Child Protection and Family Support, Tom Fisher House is a purpose built premises staffed by skilled support workers. Referrals come from other agencies including the Street to Home Program, Nyoongar Patrol, Aboriginal Drug and Alcohol Service and the WA Police.

Tom Fisher House is named to acknowledge the significant contributions Mr Tom Fisher OAM made to the St Vincent de Paul Society since 1960. Mr Fisher held the positions of Regional President, Vice President and State President in Western Australia. He served on the Society’s National Council for five years, and played an integral role in opening one of the Society’s first services for men experiencing homelessness.

St Vincent de Paul Society WA CEO Mark Fitzpatrick, said it is fitting that this service be named after Mr Fisher, because it will continue offering the same compassion, support and hope Mr Fisher offered to so many during his time with the charity.

“Tom was so chuffed to learn that such a wonderful service would be named in his honour. It is a living testament to his life of kindness and generosity to the community he served so selflessly,” Mr Fitzpatrick said.

The project had its genesis in a meeting the Premier Colin Barnett had with the then Archbishop Barry Hickey and other heads of churches in 2010.

The Department for Housing has contributed $4 million towards the land and capital works, with the Department for Child Protection and Family Support funding the operation of the service with a $1.4 million investment for three years. Lotterywest contributed $450,000 towards the fit-out of Tom Fisher House.

Watch the Premier of Western Australia, Hon Colin Barnett MLA, and CEO of St Vincent de Paul Society (WA) Inc, Mark Fitzpatrick, speak about the new service here.