Rottnest Island accommodation already sold out for Christmas 2021


When it comes to island escapes, Australia really is spoiled for choice.

From Fraser to Lord Howe, Norfolk and even the luxurious offerings at Lizard Island, there’s no budget that hasn’t been accounted for.

But one island off the coast of Western Australia has proven so popular amid the pandemic you won’t even be able to get a spot for the busy Christmas period eight months away.

Rottnest Island, home to the super cute quokka and surrounded by crystal clear waters, has had almost every camp site, bungalow and cabin sold out for the busy festive season.

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Quokka paradise an easy ferry ride away

The island, just 8km off the WA coast, is not only a popular place to stay overnight – day-trippers love it as well.

Typically, a visit to the island takes just 25 minutes on a ferry from Fremantle, 45 minutes from Hillarys Boat Harbour in the northern suburbs of Perth, or 90 minutes via a ferry from Perth’s Barrack Street Jetty.

With over 63 beaches across the island, the attraction of calm and clear waters is an easy sell.

Rottnest’s most popular activities include swimming, snorkelling, diving and fishing, as well as whale watching cruises and even skydiving sessions.

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Surge in bookings across Western Australia

While the island always experiences high demand during the peak season of Christmas, this coming festive period saw more bookings than normal.

Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and the week of December 27 to 31 were all booked and paid for by travellers, with the official booking authority listing May 3, 2021 as the next available date to book accommodation for New Year’s Eve.

Since Western Australia’s borders opened to other states and territories, various regions including the Margaret River and Broome have experienced a surge in enquiries and subsequent bookings.

Speaking to PerthNow, Seashells hotel general manager Deb Williams said that their hotel in Broome was fully booked until the end of the year.

“The last couple of months have been way busier than usual and we’re very full from now all the way to the end of school holidays in October,” she said.

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Mother of four locked out of emergency accommodation due to paperwork issue


The head of South Australia’s Housing Authority has apologised to a mother of four who has been locked out of her emergency accommodation five times in the past fortnight because the agency failed to complete the necessary paperwork.

Kirsty told ABC Radio Adelaide this morning that her family would not have anywhere to go if the SA Housing Authority did not get the paperwork through today to extend her stay.

“My key was disabled again this morning because Housing SA hasn’t done the appropriate paperwork,” she said.

Last September, Kirsty was told she had to leave her home of five years.

Since then, she has applied for about 200 rental properties without success.

After couch surfing for three months, housing services placed her in a motel room.

“If Housing SA don’t get the paperwork promptly to them this morning, then they are probably going to ask me to pack all my stuff up and get out and I won’t have anywhere to go,” Kirsty said.

After hearing Kirsty’s story, SA Housing Authority Chief Executive Michael Buchan issued an apology.

Mr Buchan said there was an increasing number of families looking for public housing.

“Kirsty is not alone at the moment, there are lots of people in very similar circumstances,” he said.

“It goes to show the challenges we have at the moment and, in particular, when the private rental market isn’t able to provide housing for people who would otherwise be in it.”

Labor MP Nat Cook called for more to be done to help Kirsty and other families in similar circumstances.(

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Opposition’s Nat Cook says ‘go back to your office and do the work’

Opposition human services spokesperson Nat Cook said she was furious at Mr Buchan’s response to Kirsty’s situation.

“I’m absolutely gasping at this, seriously Michael Buchan, you need to look at the policies and take charge of this and change them,” she said.

“People in the sector knew months ago that families were going to be homeless — like Kirsty — suffering this indignity and this embarrassment.

Ms Cook said she had received three more calls over the weekend from women in similar circumstances to Kirsty.

“I just cannot believe that someone can sit there in that position and wring their hands and say sorry,” she said.

“You’ve got no answers, you’ve got nothing for Kirsty and nothing to say about the 1,700 homes that are empty that we have found with kitchens that are brand new available for someone like Kirsty to live in.”

Mr Buchan said there were currently 600 properties available and awaiting allocation and another 1,400 homes that were vacant but needed upgrading or repairs.

“We would have properties that match Kirsty’s needs, but they are probably not in the area that she wants to live,” he said.

He said policy making had been “very agile” in recent times.

“We were able to find a huge amount of accommodation [for people] who were really needy during the COVID period and we continue to do that essentially every day,” Mr Buchan said.

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NSW residents to be offered 200,000 $100 vouchers for Sydney accommodation


Up to 200,000 accommodation vouchers worth $100 each will be available to NSW residents as the Berejiklian Government looks to protect jobs when JobKeeper ends on March 28.

Announcing a $51.5 million economic package today, the government said it was investing in initiatives designed to re-ignite live music and tempt more people back into Sydney’s CBD.

The vouchers will be allocated on a first in, first served basis and are expected to be rolled out in June to help during the sector’s quieter winter period.

The vouchers only apply to accommodation providers within the City of Sydney. (Nine)

Vouchers will only be eligible to be used at accommodation providers in Sydney’s CBD.

NSW Treasurer Dominic Perrottet said the scheme is designed to help people spend a little longer in the CBD before heading home.

“Thousands of businesses in the Sydney CBD lost significant revenue with so many people working from home, when you add in almost no overseas or interstate travel, it’s been a tough 12 months for them,” Mr Perrottet said.

“This scheme will encourage people to explore more of what the Sydney CBD has to offer, and spend a little bit more on the way through, and support local jobs.”

The vouchers will be allocated on a first in, first served basis and are expected to be rolled out in June to help during the sector’s quieter winter period. (Nine)

In addition to the vouchers a further $24 million will be spent on a live music support package to encourage more bands to perform in Sydney’s CBD.

Tourism Minister Stuart Ayres said supporting the live music and business events industry was vital as NSW continued its economic recovery.

“Everyone has missed live music, the industry is coming out of hibernation, and this package will ensure our much loved venues are there to host the gigs people want to see as they celebrate NSW emerging from the pandemic,” Mr Ayres said.

In addition to the vouchers a further $24 million will be spent on a live music support package to encourage more bands to perform in Sydney’s CBD. (Nine)

“There will also be support for business events and more money to market local tourism attractions as part of the Love NSW platform.

“Our success in containing COVID-19 means we can now focus on assisting these vital industries get back to business.”

Details for accommodation providers interested in taking part in the scheme will be rolled out in the coming weeks.

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Owner of illegal Lockyer Valley backpacker accommodation fined $65k


A Queensland woman with a history of running unsafe accommodation that puts backpackers’ lives at risk has been convicted and fined $65,000 for her latest breaches.

Mayla Patterson was sentenced in the Brisbane Magistrates Court on Wednesday for nine offences, including failing to install smoke alarms, emergency lighting and evacuation signage at properties at Gatton and Atkinsons Dam, in the Lockyer Valley.

The Gatton woman was also found to have non-compliant doors and failed to prepare fire safety management plans.

Accommodation on the properties was rented to backpackers who worked in the fruit picking industry.

The Queensland Fire and Emergency Services (QFES) said Patterson was previously fined a total of $75,000 for similar offences in 2013, 2015 and 2017.

She had also previously received a three-month jail term wholly suspended for three years.

The QFES took action after it inspected the Gatton budget accommodation in 2018 and deemed it “illegal and unsafe”.

QFES Acting Superintendent Mark Halverson said Patterson’s latest conviction should act as a deterrent to others.

“If you are undertaking and operating illegal and unsafe budget accommodation buildings then we’ll take every measure available to us to bring you to justice,” he said.

“And to send a message to the rest of the community that this sort of activity will not be tolerated.”

QFES Commissioner Greg Leach said the service could conduct surveillance and unannounced checks of buildings found to breach safety standards.

“Providers are expected to meet high safety standards,” he said.

“And QFES tries to work with owners to help them meet their obligations.

Lockyer Valley teacher Margaret Cole holds English classes for backpackers and other overseas workers in the area.

She said some of the reports of the workers’ living conditions over the years had shocked her.

“At one stage, I heard that there were over 20 people living in one house,” Ms Cole said.

“If something went wrong in that house, it could be disastrous.

Ms Cole said she believed the issue had improved in recent years but warned authorities needed to continue to police the industry.

“The fact that there have been people found out possibly has warned others that they’ve got to lift their game,” she said.

“We need to keep an eye on it still because there’s always someone who will break the rules again if they think they can get away with it.”

QFES has urged members of the public to report any reasonable concerns about accommodation.

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Logan homeless shelter expands operations amid ‘urgent’ need for emergency accommodation


When Sarah walked into a Logan homeless shelter five months ago, she had no home, had lost custody of her children, and was addicted to meth.

Months later Sarah is, in her own words, “flourishing”, with the support she needs to recover and rebuild herself and her future.

“I’d been on methamphetamine, ice or crack or whatever you want to call it, for a year and a half,” Sarah told ABC Radio Brisbane.

“I’d been couch surfing, and one morning I just woke up after having acid trip and just decided to leave … where I was living and rung up Sheltered By Grace myself.

“They had an opening for me and I came in, did an interview, and as soon as I walked in, [I] signed the paperwork. I’ve been on rehab for about five months now.”

Sheltered By Grace is a homeless shelter based in the Logan suburb of Waterford, about half an hour south of Brisbane, with space for 24 people without homes.

Founded by Jason and Lisa Loakes, the not-for-profit charity offers people a safe, private bedroom of their own, with a communal kitchen and living areas, and support services for complex problems such as domestic violence, sexual abuse, drug and alcohol addiction and mental health.

“It’s all referral-based and we don’t advertise,” Mr Loakes said.

“A lot of it is through government agencies — the local hospital systems will do referrals to us, but we are getting more and more self-referrals.

“People that are homeless, a lot of them or most of them do have mobile phones and can google and find us that way.”

About 50 people annually leave the shelter ready to be independent, Mr Loakes said, and it was, to his knowledge, one of only three shelters operating in south-east Queensland without regular government funding.

The shelter is almost entirely reliant on private donations and fundraising, while clients do pay some rent.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics estimates about 21,000 people are homeless in Queensland, and during the pandemic, the state government offered rough sleepers emergency accommodation.

Many were then put into social housing or assisted into private accommodation, but others were not.

More broadly, 26,400 families remain on Queensland’s social housing waitlist, and anecdotal reports show more people are being pushed into homelessness in the wake of rising rents across south-east Queensland.

Mr Loakes said people like Sarah who came to Sheltered By Grace needed more than the often-limited support available to them through state or federal government programs.

“It’s just a daft model to put them in housing by themselves and hopefully one carer may see them once a month.”

Sheltered By Grace only recently doubled its capability for clients, adding a 12-bedroom wing that will be available for men who have suffered domestic violence, funded by a one-off $97,000 grant through the Gambling Community Benefit Fund in 2019.

Mr Loakes said he believed it would be only the second shelter nationally to house men suffering from domestic violence.

Further expansion plans will see the shelter add 20 self-contained tiny homes for clients who have progressed from needing full-time support to becoming more independent.

“The model is to go from shared accommodation to single rooms, and then hopefully to their own unit to see how they’re coping with not only their mental health, their physical health, but everything else in the world,” he said.

“If they can look after that, we know they’re well and truly ready to stand on their own two feet and hopefully never need our services, or services like ours, again.”

But, Mr Loakes said, the reality was that only 5 to 10 per cent of people would walk out not needing support again; many more would need help consistently.

For Sarah, knowing there is no time limit on her stay means she can focus entirely on her own mental health and recovery.

Her room is one of 12 down a long breezeway, akin to a simple miner’s camp. Photos of her children and family adorn one wall, and she has a comfortable bed, and room for personal belongings.

“It’s really amazing to know I’ve got my own space that I can come sleep in and know that I’m safe,” she said.

“I’ve come a fair way in my journey by being here, and also grown more as a person.”

Sarah said she was now up to step seven of Narcotics Anonymous, and was volunteering her time back to the shelter.

She anticipates she will be living at the shelter for a year before she is ready to move on and find a permanent home where, she hopes, her children can stay.

“I’ve always kept the focus on my kids and knew that when I was ready to [go into rehab], I had to do it, and I’ve never lost focus of my kids,” Sarah said.

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Homeless people stuck in ‘unsuitable, sometimes dangerous’ accommodation


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“For Victoria to reach the national social housing average [4.5 per cent of total housing stock], it would need to build up to 3400 new social housing dwellings per year until 2036,” the report said.

According to the report, the median period someone remains homeless in Australia is 4½ months, but it lasts more than a year in about 20 per cent of cases.

People under 35 are the largest age group of people experiencing homelessness in Victoria, although older women were a fast-growing cohort, the report noted.

Family violence was the main reason individuals accessing homelessness services sought assistance in Victoria.

“Because the homelessness system is so overwhelmed, it only has the resources to provide short-term accommodation for the very needy,” said inquiry chair Fiona Patten.

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The inquiry made 51 recommendations, including increasing the provision of affordable, stable long-term housing and prioritising early intervention measures, such as assistance for those fleeing violence.

It recommended the government set up innovative housing models, such as pop-up housing in underutilised buildings, transportable housing and the use of surplus government land (through leases or sale), to create social housing.

It also suggested the government look at implementing mandatory inclusionary zoning, which would compel developers to include social or affordable housing in all new major developments across the state.

“A mandatory model of inclusionary zoning would ensure that the private market takes partial responsibility, alongside government, for the provision of housing that meets the needs of all Victorians,” the report said.

It says there are concerns this could constrain the financial returns of property developers, but incentives could be provided to guarantee the cost of other dwellings in a development would not be driven up because of the inclusion of affordable housing.

The inquiry said measures put in place during the COVID-19 pandemic saw many people previously sleeping rough placed in emergency accommodation, such as hotels, with plans for this to transition into long-term housing.

“This event showed that with sufficient will on the part of the Victorian government, it is possible to end homelessness for many people experiencing it. Whether that will remain the case is yet to be seen.”

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Perth hotel left in the lurch amid bickering over $20,000 homeless accommodation bill


The hotel claims the guests arrived in droves in late January after authorities moved to dismantle the homeless camp at Pioneer Park and promised hotel stays to those sleeping at the site.

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At first, Mr Kamil thought it would be a temporary solution until the government stepped in to help but three weeks later the bills for 13 rooms are yet to be paid and the hotelier said he was stuck between a rock and a hard place.

“I’ve got a mortgage here. I am here seven days a week, 12 hours a day. I’ve got to worry about when the next dollar comes in,” he said.

“We are just trying to do our best and survive, trying to do a good deed at the same time. It’s so stressful. I am not sleeping at night.”

Also staying at the hotel are about a dozen rough sleepers from the Lord Street homeless camp, whose rooms are being funded by Wungening Aboriginal Corporation through a Lotterywest grant and the Department of Communities until February 17.

With most of the rooms taken up by rough sleepers, Mr Kamil said he was being forced to turn down bookings from regular customers and send them to other Perth hotels.

Hotel accountant Anthony Coll said he had provided the names of all the guests to the Department of Communities but had been told they were not on their list, despite receiving regular visits from service providers and department staff.

“They keep saying: ‘we haven’t been consulted, they are not our people’,” Mr Coll said.

“But these are all people that are on the list. I just don’t understand the government. They’ve got to take some responsibility.”

Department of Communities acting executive director Glenn Mace said the rooms had been booked through a private client on January 21 and as such, the department would not pay the bill.

“Neither Communities nor any of its sector partners were consulted in relation to this booking and the private client remains responsible for this expense,” Mr Mace said in a statement.

Activist Jesse Noakes admitted he had taken the occupants of two rooms to the hotel of his own accord over concerns about their health and “brokered” an arrangement for most of the guests to come to the Wellington Street accommodation from the homeless camps in Fremantle and Perth.

“The government said on the record they would pay for accommodation for everyone for as long as necessary,” Mr Noakes said.

“If the government says they will pay, like most people I take them at their word, and I expect the hotel does too. If the government wants to renege on its guarantee to protect highly vulnerable people including babies, pregnant women, and young families that’s on them.”

Mr Coll said Perth City Apartment had been left with no other option but to crowdfund the money to pay off the outstanding bill in a desperate bid to make ends meet.

“Come next week, I don’t know how long we can keep them here,” he said.

“We don’t even get JobKeeper.”

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Australian Open 2021, when is it on, dates, schedule, entry list, accommodation, tickets, COVID, quarantine rules


Furious apartment owners at the Westin Melbourne could potentially see the Australian Open delayed once again, after Tennis Australia announced the hotel would be exclusively used to quarantine hundreds of players.

Lodged by the owners of the Westin’s 36 penthouse apartments, the complaints state the influx of international travellers will pose an “unacceptable health risk to them and the broader community,” reports The Age and the Sydney Morning Herald.

The owners also state that hotel management failed to properly consult with the residents prior to the approval of the plan. Although the Andrews government approved the terms on December 18, residents were only notified via email on December 23.

One of the many high-profile apartment owners and retired investment manager Mark Nicholson called the plan “incredibly arrogant”.

“It‘s incredibly arrogant to ambush us this way as if it’s a done deal. There are substantive public health and legal issues that have not even been examined,” he told Fairfax.

Another resident, the prominent hotelier Digby Lewis even said he’d donate “$10,000 or $20,000” to help the legal fight.

“At 84, I‘m in the vulnerable group and it’s shocking the way they tried to ram this through without any attempt to consult with us,” he said. “I’m more than happy to toss in $10,000 or $20,000 to help the legal fight; it’s bloody shocking.”

With the Owner’s Corporation threatening a potential last-minute Supreme Court injunction, this could be the second delay faced by the Australian Open. The major tennis tournament was previously delayed to begin on February 8, with players expected to jet in from January 15.

Under the current plan, international players flying into Melbourne for the tournament will be required to quarantine at the Westin for the standard 14 days, however they will be allotted a daily five hour period for training and treatment.

All athletes will also be tested for the virus at least five during their quarantine period, use a separate entrance and lift to existing residents and will be under supervision when outside of their hotel room.



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Malaysia to charge second glove maker over poor worker accommodation


KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia aims to file 30 charges against glove maker Brightway Holdings and two of its subsidiaries, after raids that found workers’ accommodation was not up to legal standards.

The Labour Department, part of the Ministry of Human Resources, conducted a raid on one of the glove-making factory in Kajang district, just outside Kuala Lumpur, last week where they found workers living in cramped, dirty shipping containers stacked behind the premises.

The ministry said in a statement late on Sunday (Dec 27) it had found “facilities that do not meet the minimum standard specifications” and the employer did not have a proper certificate of accommodation.

Brightway did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The ministry said it was in the process of completing investigation papers against Brightway and its subsidiaries Biopro and La Glove.

Malaysia is the world’s top producer of rubber gloves and its factories have been particularly busy meeting orders since the novel coronavirus pandemic began.

READ: Malaysia’s Top Glove fired whistleblower before virus outbreak

The charges come as Malaysia steps up scrutiny of workers accommodation at glove manufacturing firms after a COVID-19 outbreak at Top Glove, the world’s biggest maker of medical gloves.

Malaysia said this month it would file charges against Top Glove because of poor worker accommodation, which it found to be cramped and poorly ventilated.

Malaysia has seen a spike in coronavirus cases since September, with more than 105,000 cases and 452 COVID-19 deaths reported as of Sunday.



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Doctors lash WA’s hotel quarantine system as ‘voluntary’ after woman fled her accommodation



Doctors have described Western Australia’s hotel quarantine system as “voluntary” after a woman who posted on social media she would leave was later caught by police after fleeing her accommodation.

Jenny Maree D’ubios hadn’t completed mandatory 14-day quarantine after recently arriving from overseas when she absconded on Saturday morning.

WA police found her overnight at Rockingham Hospital, southwest of Perth.

She has been charged with failing to comply with a direction under the Emergency Management Act.

WA Acting Premier Roger Cook said D’ubios, who described her quarantine experience as “traumatic” on social media, had since returned a negative COVID-19 test result.

D’ubios on Facebook said she wanted a “non-toxic safe place to quarantine”, while also making several conspiracy theory claims.

Australian Medical Association WA president Dr Andrew Miller said the hotel quarantine system needed to be more “humane”, with fresh air available in order to prevent people from trying to flee.

He also wants a “transparent and open” explanation of how the state’s quarantine system is working following the incident.

“The quarantine seems to be a bit of a voluntary thing just now and the hospitals are overloaded,” Dr Miller told reporters on Sunday.

“We know there are going to be uncooperative people, we know mistakes are going to be made, but in my job we have to have systems in place that make up for that, otherwise people die.

“Now unfortunately that’s also the case with hotel quarantine … so there’s lots of work to be done because COVID is not taking the Christmas/New Year period off.”

D’ubios was refused bail in Perth Magistrates Court on Sunday, the ABC reported, and was remanded in custody until 4 January.

Mr Cook said the woman, who arrived in Perth from Madrid on 19 December, faced a maximum penalty of $50,000 or 12 months in prison.

While in hotel quarantine she had regular contact with an on-site medical, health and wellbeing team, he said, and was twice taken to Royal Perth Hospital for medical assistance.

Mr Cook said more than 20,000 travellers had been processed in the state’s hotel quarantine system without an incident until this point.

“Western Australia provided this woman with safe haven from a disease which has killed well over one million people worldwide,” he said.

“So the fact she would take advantage from that hospitality and … put herself and many other people at risk is quite unacceptable.”

Mr Cook also said the fact she had been initially assessed as “low-risk” would be reviewed, as well as the state’s current policy of not monitoring the social media accounts of people in hotel quarantine.

WA Health says the state recorded two new overseas-acquired cases – a man in his 40s and a woman in her 20s – in hotel quarantine on Sunday, following on from the six overseas-acquired coronavirus cases in hotel quarantine on Saturday.

Sunday’s two cases have taken number of active infections in the state to 13.

The total number of COVID-19 infections recorded in Western Australia is 855, with 832 people having recovered.

A total of 662 people visited coronavirus clinics in the state on Boxing Day.



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