The Perth City Deal was signed in September unveiling a raft of projects to energise the Western Australian capital by increasing population density in the central business district.

Seven City Deals already under way are Townsville, Launceston, Western Sydney, Darwin, Hobart, Geelong and Adelaide with the South East Queensland and the North and West Melbourne Deals advancing but not yet signed off.

Regional Deals are likewise progressing in Barkley, Tennant Creek, Northern Territory; Hinkler, Bundaberg/Fraser Coast, Queensland and in Albury/Wodonga, which straddles the Victorian/New South Wales border, a deal is under negotiation, to be signed off mid-2021.

City Deals were implemented under former Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull, as a ‘partnership between the three levels of government and the community to work towards a shared vision for productive and liveable cities’ with the intention of targeting public and private investment to accelerate jobs and growth in a
planned way.

An interesting inclusion in the Perth City Deal list of initiatives to receive funding is $36 million to provide facilities, safety improvements and services for homeless people in the city. This is a somewhat unusual project as to date most City Deals feed into the national Smart Cities Plan with its focus on ‘smart investment, smart policy and smart technology’.

While councils are beginning to involve themselves in this space, developing policies on homelessness and pledging support for NGOs and community groups providing care and shelter for this group – e.g. The Regional Local Government Homelessness and Social Housing Charter 2020 by thirteen councils in Melbourne’s east and southeast, Newcastle and Hunter Ending Homelessness pledge, Adelaide Zero project – many see responsibility for this issue, especially financial responsibility, lying in another’s court.

City of Darebin, in Melbourne’s north, has found an innovative way to deliver affordable housing with a decision to lease a Council owned property to not-for-profit housing provider, Housing Choices Australia, for $1 a year. The plan for the site, currently a public car park, is a five-storey, 41 dwelling block of affordable housing containing 23 x 1-bedroom, 6 x 1.5-bedroom (Specialist Disability Accommodation) and 12 x 2-bedroom dwellings with a minimum 6 star NatHERS energy rating. The Lord Mayor’s Charitable Foundation will contribute $1 million to construction and provide the proponent a $2 million low interest loan.

Many stakeholders cry loud and long for more money to solve the many complex social issues that plague our modern world, but few have the vision or the will to take responsibility for making even small changes that could make a big difference to the life of even one person.