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Homeless People Count in Councils

Authorised by Verity Webb P O Box 388 Yarraville 3013

In another episode of the alternative Council universe, six Councils across Melbourne are spending more than $300,000 to help the homeless - by counting them.

Every two years Councils take part in an event called ‘the Homeless Street Count.’

The 2020 Homeless Street Council has been delayed due to Covid, but according to the Maribyrnong City Council meeting in July, five Councils are kicking in $50,000 each plus $50,000 from DHHS and a generous $90,000 from City of Melbourne, to conduct the street count once Covid is over.

There are several reasons why I’m bothering to mention this.

  1. All the Councils, plus DHHS have staff who are already paid. So why does it require extra funding?

  2. The 2018 street count ‘counted’ 392 people sleeping rough. No mention of what happened to them as a result of the street count.

  3. The Homeless Protocol agenda paper provides estimates of numbers from emergency housing services, so why do Councils need to spend money collecting other data?

It seems the aim of the street count is mostly to provide PR opportunities for Councils.

“The 2018 count received significant media coverage across Melbourne including the ABC online, The Age, The Guardian, and Channel 7 and 9 News” according to the Council blurb.

And on Yarra City council’s website, there's an extensive story about the results of the count, including a quote from every Council and agency that took part.

Have any staff, or any Councillors who approved this, stopped to think that maybe it’s being insensitive and exploiting rough sleepers, to spend money counting them, rather than housing them?

There is actually one sensible item in the Maribyrnong Council Homeless Protocol - and it cost absolutely nothing.

It’s a simple guide that tells Council staff what to do if a member of the public reports a homeless person sleeping rough, or in need of help. Council has drawn up a simple flowchart for staff so they can quickly contact the correct welfare agency and direct assistance to where it's needed. (Provided the agency has the funds to help of course.)

This actually does something useful. And I repeat, it costs nothing.

If I’m elected to Council I’ll be approving more of the sensible, effective policies and protocols and none of the expensive PR stunts.

Vote 1 Verity Webb in Yarraville.

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