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WA's five big churches could soon be working together to provide social services such as homeless shelters, counselling and help with substance abuse under a radical shake-up of the sector.

In what would usher in a new era for the State's biggest social service providers, Heads of Churches secretary Iain Trainor said yesterday that the churches were for the first time working towards a new collaborative approach that would hopefully cut duplication and improve social care.

He said under existing arrangements the "five big players" - the Catholic Church's Centacare, Anglicare, Uniting Care West, Baptistcare and the Salvation Army - were competing for the same clients, projects and pool of funding.

Under the new approach, which is still subject to a comprehensive study, it was envisaged one organisation could take a lead role providing homeless facilities while others predominantly handled substance abuse or counselling.

Mr Trainor said there could be joint facilities or programs and the study would look at solutions in other countries.

He said the new direction was agreed unanimously by church leaders after a regular meeting with Premier Colin Barnett.

They were now awaiting the outcome of a State grant application to start the six-month study.

"We have always been in competition with each other," Mr Trainor said. "(But) theologically and philosophically we're all about trying to make the community a better place . . . so why on earth can't we work together?"

The churches' collaborative approach comes as the Catholic Church confirmed it was behind a proposal submitted to Mr Barnett for a new drop-in centre in the city.

Auxiliary Bishop Don Sproxton said the so-called "crash pad" would be where the homeless could feel safe at night, access basic services and store belongings.

Lord Mayor Lisa Scaffidi supports the facility but was "offended" that such proposals were seemingly getting more Government attention to put on a good look for CHOGM rather than being a priority at other times.

The West Australian

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