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Byron Shire
February 27, 2021

Community Gardens under pressure from long-term campers

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For years, the volunteers at the Community Gardens in Mullumbimby have sought to accept and assist campers that periodically park up next to the much-loved green space.

But their patience is beginning to wear thin.

Patience for the illegal campers at the Mullumbimby Community Gardens is beginning to wear thin. Image Jeff Dawson

A bumper crop of long-term campers, most likely brought by the hardships of COVID-19, have reportedly been engaging in a range of antisocial activities.

These include leaving spilt food, cigarette butts and alcohol bottles in the community buildings that they have been permitted to use.

According to the Community Gardens president, Melody Edwards, there have also been times when anger flares in heated arguments between campers, and occasionally with those growing their food there.

‘We are not trained in dealing with mental health issues’, she said. ‘Nor do we have the time to do our supervision tasks when we are having to help stressed allotment holders, or scared mothers and children who feel unsafe in the children’s garden, owing to the loud angry arguments happening nearby,’ Melody said.

The volunteers are also reportedly left to re-sort the rubbish that is left in the garden’s bins by the campers.

Melody acknowledged that the issue of homelessness and itinerants was complex, and that a compassionate whole of community approach was needed.

However, it was not appropriate for the garden’s volunteers to be given the entire task.

‘We fully encourage this, and are certainly willing to assist, but not carry all the load’, Melody said.

‘We have been told by campers that, even though there are Council signs saying NO Camping, the rangers have told them that unofficially they will turn a blind eye to continued camping here’,

But Byron Council said this was not the case.

‘Council does not “turn a blind eye” to illegal campers in Mullumbimby, or anywhere else’, a Council spokesperson said.

‘Our enforcement team operates seven days a week, patrolling across the Shire, including the area near the Mullumbimby Community Gardens, issuing fines where and when necessary.’

‘With respect to rough sleeping and homelessness – Council is one of the most progressive in NSW in relation to the employment of Public Space Liaison Officers, who are working with people who are homeless, to connect them with NSW agencies and organisations that can help them’.


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3 COMMENTS

  1. The old saying of “give them an inch and they take a mile” is sadly true. Either the Byron Ranger or the police should be moving them on. If they can’t treat the priviledge being handed to them on a plate, with respect, hen they don’t deserve it. Oh silly me, they will come out with a valid hardship excuse for their disgusting behaviour.

  2. “…NSW agencies and organisations that can help them” ?
    If there were such entities then everyone would have long term safe suitable homes to live in, near friends or family, who obviously are unable for their own reasons to accommodate them, but may be supportive in other ways.
    Instead it is just another bunch of placations and fob offs and passing the buck , without solutions. Same old same old; move on move on. 30 years ago homeless kids were rallying for government to fix this huge problem and since then it has only worsened manifold. Homeless people are treated like plague worse than ‘covids’. All they have to look forward to is bullies with paperwork, officialdom, badges or uniforms, with attitudes lacking understanding, compassion or humility, dismissing, disrespecting, in some cases brutalising, and removing the homeless from view of the snobs who believe such action protects the value of their assets.
    Well done Aussies.
    Even temporary housing is often completely unavailable to people, and ‘temporary’ means exactly what it says, often just days, or at best, weeks, therefore often just adding to the stress of the insecurity.
    Volunteers providing hugs, clothing, or food for the really helpless, ofcourse, are angels, including those working with the RSPCA and other agencies supporting non-human people, because when humans become homeless, so do their much loved and needed non-human family members. My criticisms certainly do not extend to you.

  3. Coloured named bins for rubbish disposal…blue for plastic green for food scraps brown for paper and cardboard and yellow for glass and purple for anything else. and one for tins and cans.

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