Homelessness – an issue for us all

Tomorrow over 1,500 people will participate in the CEO’s Sleepout, an awareness and fundraising event for the services of St Vincent de Paul society for the homeless.

I was really pleased to support Larrakia man and CEO of the Larrakia Development Corporation, Nigel Browne, in helping him reach his fundraising goal.  Donating to this cause is so important.

Recently Council passed a motion to formally ask the Northern Territory Government to address the need for short term accommodation in our community.

This action was born from the fact that we have a lot of people living rough in our city.  And it is not a good look for anyone.

While this severely affects the amenity of this great city; it is also a sad indictment of our community and our apparent inability to deal with the issue.

As Lord Mayor I will continue to advocate to the Federal and Northern Territory Governments on the issues that concern the community, regardless of whether it is within Council’s power to affect change or not. I will work hard, not give up and champion practical, positive solutions that deal with this very real social issue.

The Debate

The debate in the Chamber was broad ranging covering questions of:

  • Who exactly will the accommodation be for?
  • Is it Council’s role to be advocating for housing options?
  • Is Council willing to do more and invest in infrastructure?
  • Do rate payers really want Council to spend more money on this issue, given we already spend $540,000 on the Darwin Safe Project?
  • Is this a drinking camp, transitional housing, sobering up shelter, refuge from family violence or is it all of these things or none of them?
  • How will the issue of cultural clashes be accommodated?

Ultimately the main reason why Council supported this motion is a recognition that it is a community debate that has to be had.

There is no doubt that this is a complex, multifaceted issue.  There are no easy answers and playing a blame game is of no use to anyone.

It is not an issue that Council can solve, but we can play a part in working towards the solutions. It does require other levels of government to look at how their policy settings affect the number of rough sleepers we have to deal with.

Together as a community we can work on this – it won’t be easy or quick but we cannot and should not ever stop working towards practical solutions.



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