Wednesday, April 13, 2011

local law passes

report from the roundtable - 12 apr

At this week's council meeting council had to consider the making of a local law to deal with a number of issues. This was the second time the local law was before us, back in January when the local law was first tabled, it raised the ire of groups and agencies who represent and help homeless people (see blog). The key issue at the time was the criminalisation of homelessness.

Although the local law covers off on a number of different matters, the issue which had the most attention was the part of the local law aimed at dealing with campers at Lillydale Lake and other parks around Yarra Ranges.

I moved the motion to make the local law. With that motion I also moved that an amendment be made to the Guidelines for Assessment, which is the document that provides guidance for staff on the interpretation and implementation of the law.

Since January, shire officers have been in contact with PILCH and other agencies around the wording of the local law and the Guidelines for Assessment. Councillors wanted to ensure that we picked up on concerns raised by advocates of homeless persons.

I noted in the draft that it failed to pick up an issue raised by both PILCH and the Salvation Army around our officers, should they indentify a person as homeless, the need to contact a relevant community agency to notify the agency of the existence and location of that homeless person (with their consent, of course). I thought it was important to include this in the Guidelines, it provides that bridge between council and homeless persons and connects people with help. In the event that a homeless person doesn't want assistance our local laws officers will provide them with a Homelessness Contact Card.

The Shire's local laws team have already been briefed by local agency, Anchor, so they will be better prepared should they indentify a homeless person when administering the local law. It's important to council that homelessness is dealt with in a sensitive manner, with respect and dignity and that homeless people are not disadvantaged by the local law.

Councillors supported the motion unanimously.

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