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Byron Shire
May 22, 2024

Rising homelessness rate prompts call for govt help

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Byron Shire has the highest number of rough sleepers of any local government area in the state, and urgently needs state government support for an assertive homelessness outreach program, Mayor Michael Lyon says.

As Council continues its crackdown on the Shire’s van campers, Cr Lyon successfully moved a motion calling on NSW Housing Minister, Rose Jackson, to fund the outreach program that supports those who were genuinely homeless, rather than ‘those who choose to freeload in our streets’.

‘In the last two years, our rough sleeping count has gone up 50 per cent – from 200 to 300 people,’ Cr Lyon told last week’s Council Planning Meeting.

‘This hasn’t been officially released yet, but we’re aware of the figures.

Rough sleeping is on the rise in Byron Shire. Photo Flickr/Deadly Sirius

Number one in NSW

‘We’re now the number one local government area in the state, in terms of raw numbers of people sleeping rough.

‘It’s just not good enough. It’s something that, as a Council, we can no longer say that we can deal with. We need to lobby really strongly for help. We need to demand an appropriate response to this problem.’

Councillors unanimously passed Cr Lyon’s motion, and will now write to Ms Jackson and request an assertive outreach program which matches the resource allocation provided to the Tweed Shire.

‘We need a matching allocation in our Shire, so we can properly address this issue, so that we can get the qualified people to go out into the community, to the people who are sleeping rough, and find out what they are facing and what they need,’ Cr Lyon said.

Council will also demand an expansion of supported emergency, crisis, temporary and transitional accommodation in the Shire.

He said that Council had begun talking to Reflections Holiday Parks, the state-owned corporation which runs many of the Shire’s caravan parks, about making their services available to rough sleepers.

How will medium-density housing will change the region? Image https://bdaa.com.au/

Cr Lyon also raised the possibility of other measures that might be put in place to address the chronic shortage of housing in the Shire which was contributing to the homelessness problem.

This included increasing building height limits and changing local planning policies to permit more medium-density residential development in certain areas.

‘I’ve been heartened by some of the conversations that I’ve been having with people locally and I think the view has started to change,’ Cr Lyon said.

‘I think people are starting to recognise that we need to build a lot more housing. Something does have to give.’

He also raised the prospect of opening up farmland for development.

‘Our regionally significant farmland, which covers two-thirds of our Shire, has been a constraint that’s prevented housing,’ Cr Lyon said. ‘Perhaps the DPI (Department of Primary Industries) is going to have to give a bit there.’


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1 COMMENT

  1. Paul,

    our local Councilors should take a look at the My Home project in WA creating small homes for vulnerable women and a fantastic blueprint to help tackle the #1 issue of our housing crisis, homelessness.

    myhomehousing . org .au

    ABC online news – reporter Keane Bourke – did a feature June 10 that is heart warming and well worth checking out.

    It is a wonderful example of how a private enterprise secures vacant, unused Government, Church and privately owned land, and works with contractors locally to help solve a national issue.

    Who can wait for Government? Hello Lismore…
    Our State Governments “Resilience NSW” department was so resilient it lasted less than 2 yrs from it’s inception 1 May 2020 until it was disbanded on the 1st of April 2022. A fitting day to end a bad joke!

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