The City of Greater Bendigo has met with representatives of Haven Home Safe, Victoria Police and Parks Victoria to discuss support for people sleeping rough across Greater Bendigo.
The City is aware of areas across the community where rough sleeping is occurring, some of which is happening on City owned or managed land and in other instances on land that falls into the responsibility of other agencies.
Mayor Cr Dr Jennifer Alden said the meeting was productive but management of this issue was an ongoing challenge.
“There is no quick fix to helping rough sleepers in our community into more stable accommodation,” Cr Alden said.
“Given the previous trauma that some rough sleepers have experienced, it can take a long time for support agencies such as Haven Home Safe to build a rapport with them and get to the point where help will be accepted.
“It is also important to remember there are currently more than 2,700 people in Greater Bendigo waiting to access low-income housing.
“The current challenges at Huntly Lions Park were discussed as part of the meeting. It was agreed all agencies will undertake regular visits together and provide outreach to the campers, in an effort to build relationships and help improve behaviour and amenity of the park.
“The meeting also focused on the designated use of public land across Greater Bendigo, some of which can be used for short term camping, however the City does not provide any long-term camping grounds.
“To remove the option of short-term camping involves changes to the reservation purpose, which can take up to six months. Also, in doing so and evicting people from these sites, the rough sleepers will move elsewhere in the community and divert the problem but not solve it.
“Following Council’s decision last month, the City has committed to working with Haven Home Safe to relocate current campers at Huntly Lions Park and review the status of the park in early 2022.
“There will be monthly meetings to plan a way forward and consider where Local Laws changes can be made, keeping in mind that alone will not solve this social challenge.”