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Homeless Offered Alternatives Following Unfortunate Encounter

Homeless by a Wall

Sunshine Coast Council has responded after a man was asked to move on from a park near the Caloundra Aerodrome recently. 

The man said he was not offered any alternatives and also threatened with a fine.  

A Sunshine Coast Council spokesperson said "Council officers approach every incidence of people experiencing homelessness with sensitivity and compassion. Council recognises and appreciates that people experiencing homelessness are amongst the most vulnerable members of the community and often have a range of support needs".  

"The Queensland Government is primarily responsible for funding specialist homelessness support services and social and emergency housing. Council works closely with Queensland Government agencies and community service organisations to ensure any person who is rough sleeping in a council managed public space is referred to an appropriate community service or housing provider as soon as possible.

"Council is responsible for managing council run spaces – such as parks and gardens – on behalf of our community and when it receives complaints or concerns are raised in relation to public safety in these areas, council is obliged to investigate. Council officers will always seek to assist and be respectful of human dignity when encountering people rough sleeping in public areas.

"Through the Sunshine Coast Community Strategy 2019 – 2041, council has taken a strong position to advocate to other levels of government to ensure they deliver on their responsibilities to provide affordable housing options and support services that are needed by the members of the Sunshine Coast community.

"Caloundra Aerodrome is a functioning aerodrome and as such, it is not safe for people to camp in the area. Council officers have been working closely with the people camping in this area to ensure they are aware of the law but also to ensure they are connected to the relevant agencies and human services organisations to access housing solutions.

"Signage will also be placed in public areas near the Caloundra Aerodrome informing the public that camping near this facility is not permitted.

"Council officers attended Caloundra Aerodrome and spoke with several campers last week – including the man mentioned. The man asked whether a fine would be issued and he was advised that this is not council’s approach.

"He was however, informed that council’s local laws do not permit camping at this location and that a fine may apply for the offence. Unlike some other councils, Sunshine Coast Council does not issue infringements to homeless people, but works with them to ensure they are connected to relevant State Government and community services organisations who have responsibility for providing housing support services for people experiencing homelessness.

"Council officers are respectful in their interactions with all campers" the spokesperson said.  

"Council does not issue fines to people identified as homeless, however people camping illegally on council controlled land may ordinarily receive an infringement of $266. Camping is only permitted in a place designated as a camping ground or where camping is authorised" the statement concluded.  

Aaron Pimlott from the Salvation Army said there are a variety of reasons someone might find themselves living on the streets.

He said family and domestic violence accounts for a majority of cases. Relationship breakdowns, mental health and substance abuse are also factors. Financial difficulties or housing affordability stress can also see people wind up on the streets.

Mr Pimlott said sometimes people who wind up homeless can turn to substance abuse for comfort and that is where the Salvation Army can help.

He said every professionals can find themselves without a roof over their heads, adding "Homelessness doesn't discriminate".

Mr Pimlott said the Salvation Army can help homeless locals find accommodation, if it is available. He pointed out that although the Salvos do work closely with the Department of Housing and Public Works, they do find that there is still a lack of available housing.

He added that they also work with philanthropic donors to locate new accommodation opportunities.

He said one of the most important roles they play for these individuals is 'case management' where they work alongside them and figure out what they need and help them get their lives back on track.

To get in touch with the Salvos Upfront Intervention Team please phone 07 3832 1491.

By Michelle Brewer 

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