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Yarra Council advocacy to address homelessness in Melbourne

8 March 2017

Yarra City Council will offer to work closely with Melbourne City Council on homelessness, as part of a formal written submission to the council about its proposed amendments to Activities Local Law 2009.  

The amendment, which has attracted much public attention in recent months, seeks to increase Melbourne Council’s ability to remove items that are left unattended in public places.

Yarra Council’s submission will outline a number of concerns with the proposal, while acknowledging the work of Melbourne Council staff over many years to respond constructively and compassionately to people experiencing homelessness.

Yarra’s submission will also offer to work with Melbourne Council to coordinate an advocacy campaign to state and federal governments to address the root causes of homelessness, as well as sharing Yarra’s best practice approach to addressing homelessness in the city.

The latest Census data states that 941 people are homeless in Yarra, approximately four times the state average.

Inner-city areas like Yarra often have higher rates of homelessness because people feel safer sleeping in well-lit and densely populated areas, and don’t have to travel long distances to connect with support services.

Council acknowledges that homelessness is a complex issue and is often associated with a wider set of structural, social and economic factors.

It can be challenging for our community to see people sleeping rough. Our approach aims to balance the rights and amenity of the community with a compassionate and respectful approach to supporting people who experience hardship.

In 2012, Council developed a protocol that aims to help residents, businesses and Council staff respond effectively to issues related to homelessness. The protocol aims to connect people with appropriate support and community outreach services, including Launch Housing, a housing support organisation part funded by Council. Yarra works closely with Launch Housing to ensure the best outcomes for people who face complex barriers to accessing secure housing.

In 2014, Council teamed with Homeground and Hanover Welfare Services to trial 'The Engagement Response to Primary Homelessness' model.  The model provided additional funding to these services to increase outreach support in the City of Yarra. It also included training for key Council staff on how to respond when they see people squatting or sleeping rough and how to refer them to the right services. 

Housing is a human right, and Yarra Council advocates strongly at a local, state and federal level for more public, social and affordable housing. We also work within the planning system to include affordable housing in new residential developments. 

Additional support services are provided by Council through our Youth and Family Services, Buildings and Property Branch, Environmental Health Unit and Social Policy Unit.

Yarra Council will make its formal submission to Melbourne City Council by 17 March.


Further information

Anne Barton
Community Planner – Housing and Advocacy
9205 5094
Anne.Barton@yarracity.vic.gov.au

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