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Councils putting homelessness in focus

Article image - Councils putting homelessness in focus Across Australia, 1000 business leaders slept rough and raised just over $5.2 million for Australia’s homeless in the annual St Vincent de Paul CEO Sleepout. The Centre for Housing, Urban and Regional Planning (CHURP) is working in partnership with the Australian Local Government Association (ALGA) and state-based local government organisations to explore the role of local government in addressing homelessness and housing.

A survey is being conducted to collect data on what local governments are currently doing to address the issues. The aim is to gain a comprehensive snapshot of the behaviours, actions and strategies being used by local government to address homelessness and related issues.

Funded by the Department of Families, Housing Community Services and Indigenous Affairs (FaHCSIA), the research will inform a final report and handbook of best practises for local government.

Both City of Melbourne and City of Adelaide councils are taking steps to address homelessness in their respective areas, suggesting that the issue is already of concern for many local governments.

 The City of Melbourne carried out its annual StreetCount survey on June 6, (traditionally one of the coldest mornings of the year), gathering information on the number of homeless people sleeping rough in the city.

Streetcount 2012 revealed that 101 people are sleeping rough in Melbourne’s streets and parks as winter takes hold. Fifty-four of the homeless were surveyed, revealing that 61 percent had been homeless for more than two years and 33 percent had been homeless for more than five years. Lord Mayor Robert Doyle said the figures highlighted the issue of homelessness in Melbourne.

“Over the past few weeks, winter has really taken hold and it’s obvious that anyone who is forced to sleep on park benches, in doorways or on the streets on such bitterly cold nights really has nowhere else to go,” said Lord Mayor Doyle.

“People who sleep rough are those most in need of help. By collecting data on how many people sleep rough we get an idea of who the most vulnerable people are and can target our efforts towards helping them.”

Adelaide City Council staff members have drawn attention to and raised funds for South Australia’s homeless, joining CEO Peter Smith for the annual St Vincent de Paul CEO Sleepout on June 1st.

“Many of the city’s homeless services rely on the support of the community to carry out the work they do; to transition people from living on the street to living into an affordable housing arrangement,” said Mr Smith.

“The Vinnies Sleepout is an important cause and I am hugely supportive of the staff in their desire to organise their own community event.”
St Vincent de Paul Society state president Dominic Lagana spoke at the staff sleepout about some of the challenges the Society faces in tackling homelessness.

“To see Adelaide City Council staff going to the lengths of organising their own community sleepout to raise funds is a true example of community working together to make a positive change for people doing it tough,” Mr Lagana said.