Working with the State Government to Help Rough Sleepers

This morning I joined Brad Hazzard MP, NSW Minister for Family and Community Services, to announce a new joint protocol to help homeless people during severe weather emergencies. The protocol will help us provide support to rough sleepers during major weather events such as storms and heatwaves and other crises.

Minister Hazzard and I decided to formalise an agreement following the success of emergency shelter provided during severe storms in April.

Personnel from the City, FACS, Neami and Mission Beat provided 61 people with warm meals, hot drinks, clothing and bedding. During that time we helped 46 people into temporary accommodation and two people were offered long-term housing.

The formal agreement we signed today will allow us to replicate that response at short notice for future emergencies and respond in other ways to the needs of rough sleepers when needed.

The science is clear that climate change will cause increases to the frequency and intensity of extreme weather events. It is important for cities to be ready for such events and to protect vulnerable people.

The City's dedicated homelessness unit works hard to get rough sleepers into accommodation. They work with police, the state government and a number of specialist services to reduce homelessness and its impact in the city. The team's public space liaison officers visit rough sleepers every day and work with them to access housing, Medicare and Centre link assistance and other support.

Even though it is a State responsibility, the City invests $2.4 million each year to reduce homelessness and its impacts in the city - more than any other council in Australia.

We have committed $4.2m over the next three years to fund homelessness outreach services, which have housed hundreds of people over the past five years, and ultimately aims to help as many rough sleepers into housing as possible. Our homelessness team also conducts two street counts a year. During them the City collects accurate and up-to-date information about the numbers of people sleeping rough.

This helps inform ongoing policy development and to assess the effectiveness of current policies and initiatives, as well the priorities of the city's public space liaison officers.

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