Shalom House’s Fight Against Recommendations To Relocate

Shalom House rehabilitation centre is at the mercy of the City of Swan Council’s recommendations.

Recent disputes between Shalom House and the City of Swan, have been referred to the State Administrative Tribunal and Supreme Courts, with the fight still continuing.

Recommendations given by the City of Swan want Shalom House to relocate within 12 months, due to zoning complications.

CEO and Founder, Peter Lyndon James, said the ongoing disputes are disappointing.

Zoning is required to go through the City of Swan and the Swan Valley Planning Act before it can be approved.

However, the City’s recommendation is not congruent with the State Administrative Tribunal’s ruling, as Shalom House has recently been classed as a community purposed building.

Therefore making the zoning restrictions redundant, with the City of Swan eligible to zone the affected Park Street property as community purposed.

Mr James does not believe their decision to relocate Shalom House within 12 months will come into fruition.

When the original application, to change from residential to community purposed, was put in, within two weeks it was rejected by the City of Swan.

He explained that legally you’re allowed to have six unrelated people in one house, so with the property consisting of three houses, he could have had up to 18 men at the centre.

At the time Mr James only had 14 people living there, and was following the rules when he lodged the application.

As it was rejected, Mr James appealed to the State Administrative Tribunal, and as the process was ongoing, the number of men increased, eventually leading to 33 men all in the one property.

The City of Swan was informed of the rapid growth and was asked for assistance, but they pleaded they could not talk until after the court hearing.

From then, Mr James purchased another property consisting of two houses, and divided the men up.

“The numbers increased to 72, and it happened again, and again, and again. I currently have 15 properties in the Swan Valley, 140 men and nearly 100 staff. We’re still in a court battle and we’re still growing and looking for another premises,” Mr James said.

Shalom House is fully self funded, with Mr James working as a full time volunteer.

“Because we’re not a money generating business, we’re a people generating business – we build people. We actually don’t have financially the funds to relocate all of us to one property. So we actually couldn’t move even if we wanted to,” he commented.

Mr James said he doesn’t understand why a rehabilitation program like Shalom House, with a 90% success rate upon completion, and at no cost to anybody seeking help, doesn’t receive assistance from the local government and authorities.

Peter Lyndon James then joined the local government as a councillor in an effort to understand why they weren’t offering any help. After reading the policies, regulations, and guidelines, Mr James publicly apologised in front of the council, recognising as part of being a councillor means they couldn’t actually help him.

“But what we’re doing is we’re elevating the policies and procedures above human life…”

“I think that the City of Swan and the decisions that they’re making will be exposed for what they are. Myself personally, I’m not going to let their choices affect me, I’m not going to let their choices affect the decisions that I make or how I do what I do,” he stated.

Despite the program positively changing the lives of those who need it most, he said there will always be negative comments from the community, insisting the negativity only comes from those without a great awareness about drugs and addiction.

“The negative comments that are coming from people, they have no idea about drugs or addiction, but they hear the words drugs, addiction, rehabilitation, jail and they just say ‘not in my area!’…”

Shalom House helps people from all over the country, not just those affected by drugs, but also people consumed by life controlling issues e.g.: sex addictions, anger issues, workaholics.

He says the issues and hard parts of life leave these men with a lot of anger, bitterness and resentment.

“We just clean up people’s hearts.” he said sincerely.

Mr James has a saying – “You can take the prisoner out of prison, but then you’ve got to get the prisoner out the prisoner.”

The significance of program to Mr James allowed him to find a way to do that, in recognition of all the people still trapped within the lures of the prison system.

Mr James has significantly helped so many men from all over the country, and he says he will continue to fight the city’s recommendations, with no intention of moving.

“I will continue everyday to act with honesty, integrity, transparency, and I’ll hold my head up high and take each day at a time..”

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