Local solutions and contacts crucial in tackling homelessness

Jan Barham, Greens MP and Housing spokesperson, welcomes the focus on addressing homelessness but emphasises the vital role of local services, including local government, in delivering innovative and effective solutions.

Her comments follow the release of the NSW Government’s Going Home Staying Home Reform Plan. “It’s positive to see that the Government has taken on board comments from the homelessness sector about the need to focus on delivering services that meet the needs of different individuals and regions,” Ms Barham said.

“Encouraging regional planning and identifying local innovations that might be transferred to other areas are a good starting point, but to carry this through the role of local government needs to be recognised. Councils across the state are making concerted and innovative efforts to address homelessness in their local government areas, and supporting these services is crucial.”

Ms Barham noted that immediate, local access to information and support was essential to helping people who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless.

“A state-wide phone service and a ‘no wrong door’ policy are good starting points, but the key is ensuring that people can find the local support they need, as soon as they need it. As one example, a local service centre was established in Byron Bay to be a ‘one stop shop’ where people can talk to someone and access the range of services they might require, from both government and non-government providers. It also gives them a place where they can have some basic needs met like showers and washing machines, meals and somewhere safe to leave their belongings.

“In implementing this plan, I hope the NSW Government and their homelessness advisory bodies will recognise the importance of supporting local government in the service framework.”

Jan Barham’s Motion on Homelessness, 18 October 2012