Brunswick Street Oval grandstand: Helping people find safer accommodation
Wednesday 06 May 2020
This week, Yarra Council’s Municipal Building Surveyor issued an emergency order stating that people cannot use the Brunswick Street Oval grandstand for accommodation. This is because the grandstand is not safe for long term accommodation, and we have a duty of care to anyone using Council facilities.
We have a longstanding partnership with Launch Housing, which provides outreach services to people experiencing homelessness. We have been working closely with Launch Housing to find appropriate emergency housing for people who need it, using State Government funding in response to the COVID-19 emergency.
Outreach teams from both Yarra Council and Launch Housing have been visiting this site regularly. Over the past week, along with offers of accommodation, we have arranged transport for people and their belongings. Where possible, we have kept people’s belongings safe until they could return for them.
To improve safety for the people sleeping at the grandstand, we had installed smoke detectors and fire extinguishers at the site on 14 April. This is when our electrician discovered some dangerous and unauthorised modifications to our electrical wiring. This created a major safety hazard and severely increased the risk of electrocution and fire.
At the end of the day, we have a duty of care to people using our facilities. There is not adequate power, running water or sanitation to house this many people long term. That’s why we are doing what we can to make sure safer accommodation is available.
It’s our experience that Yarra residents by and large support this community and, like us, care about their safety and welfare. Our concern is making sure all members of our community remain safe and healthy, particularly while using Council facilities.