Further Statement on Wentworth Park Rough Sleepers

Media reports this week that rough sleepers were evicted from Wentworth Park are wrong.

No one was asked to leave the park.

Following public complaints and concerns from police, City of Sydney staff cleaned up the area to keep it safe and accessible for all the community, and removed items that pose a fire or safety risk.

Over the past four months the City's Homelessness Unit has offered the following services and support to the people who have been sleeping in Wentworth Park:

  • 97 referrals to support providers;
  • 12 letters to Housing NSW in support of applications for housing for individuals and/or couples;
  • four reports to Department of Family and Community Services - Child Protection Services about children sleeping rough or pregnancies;
  • assisting five rough sleepers to take up employment opportunities including providing references and/or contact details for employers.

Of the rough sleepers in the area:

  • seven have been housed since November 2014. An additional two were offered housing but declined;
  • four are from New Zealand and are not eligible for services in Australia. All have been offered assistance to return home and declined.

More than 300 people sleeping rough in inner Sydney is a serious concern directly linked to the State Government's failure to provide adequate refuges, hostels and social housing across NSW. The government continues selling public housing and its recent "Going home, Staying home" reform plan would have ripped $5.6 million from inner city support services, if not for a strong campaign by the community and council.

I have written to the Minister for Family and Community Services, The Hon Gabrielle Upton MP, asking for an urgent discussion about what steps she and her Department are taking to deliver secure housing outcomes for the rough sleepers of Wentworth Park.