Saturday, May 25, 2024

Sunshine Coast hosts homelessness forum

Key government agencies, church groups and other community organisations yesterday gathered for a roundtable discussion on homelessness within the region. 

The roundtable, chaired by Sunshine Coast Council Mayor Mark Jamieson, forms part of council’s commitment to work in partnership with the relevant State Government agencies, housing providers and community services to take collaborative action on homelessness across the Sunshine Coast. 

Mayor Jamieson said the meeting examined the Sunshine Coast’s homelessness response during COVID-19, the emerging housing crisis as well as place-based responses to address rough sleeping in our community.

“Homelessness can affect anyone at any point in their lives. It is a complex issue that requires a long-term and systematic effort across agencies, sectors and the community to address,” Mayor Jamieson said. 

“Key agencies should be commended for their response to homelessness at the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. 

“This included council delivering the COVID-19 Housing Crisis Response in partnership with the State Government and IFYS Ltd, including establishing a Homelessness Hub at the Sunshine Coast Stadium.

“The roundtable discussions yesterday focused on 2021 priorities to help address homelessness on the Sunshine Coast, such as innovative options including overnight accommodation, crisis options needed in our region and ongoing advocacy work required.

“Through a collaborative approach with our community partners, council is focused on implementing a program that provides short-term overnight accommodation for people rough sleeping. 

“Action planning was undertaken yesterday to outline what is needed to make this program a reality. 

“As mentioned in our Sunshine Coast Community Strategy 2019-2041, addressing homelessness is a key priority for residents within our community.”

A key outcome from the roundtable discussion was to establish a leadership group which will coordinate a pilot overnight accommodation project to:

  • Work with local services and government agencies to deliver a collective response to homelessness and rough sleeping
  • Seek advice from those who have experienced homelessness and rough sleeping to develop the pilot project
  • Assess, and if appropriate, trial overnight accommodation solutions at council facilities such as venues and secure car parks 
  • Explore accommodation options such as buses modified with sleeping pods. 

The three regional advocacy opportunities to be progressed as a priority are:

  • Explore opportunities with the State Government to enable the new Sunshine Coast Planning Scheme to require social and affordable housing as a condition of development and remove inhibitors in the planning system to housing diversity
  • Engage local business leaders, commercial property owners, private sector stakeholders and philanthropists with an aim to drive investment into crisis accommodation and shelter options needed on the Sunshine Coast
  • Advocate to the Federal and State Government for a funded assertive outreach service for people rough sleeping in public spaces and other locations. This is to proactively initiate face-to-face contact, provide access, assessment and appropriate referral to services. 

Outside the roundtable forums, council says it continues to meet regularly with the State Government, with meetings focused on responding to the growing need for social, affordable and specialist housing responses.

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