The step of issuing notices to people staying in Wilks Park requiring them move on over the next 28 days was an action undertaken by Council in close consultation with the NSW Government. The NSW Government is responsible for providing genuine solutions to the people sleeping in Wilks Park who have no alternatives.
It was surprising and disappointing that the NSW Government, and in particular the Department of Communities and Justice (DCJ), did not acknowledge this extensive consultation over recent weeks.
The Councillors met last night to workshop the Council role in relation to the issue, which is the role of the manager of the site. Again, surprisingly, when asked to participate in the meeting and provide information to the Council on exactly what it is that they are doing, DCJ failed to attend.
The NSW State Government is responsible for providing services and solutions to the people currently sleeping in Wilks Park. The NSW Government is also responsible for their safety in the event of a flood given they are sleeping in a floodway. The NSW Government is also responsible for the safety and welfare of all the people sleeping there and passing there for whatever reason people might fear for their safety.
Council will again call on the NSW State Government to explain what they are going to do in relation to providing the people sleeping in Wilks Park with genuine solutions for their care and homing.
If the silence and inaction of the NSW Government continues, the Council will in all likelihood take no further action to move people on from sleeping in Wilks Park, where they have no alternative.
Since last week when the NSW State Government retreated from consultation with Council, the Council has been left in a vacuum in relation to the options and the care which is being provided to the people in Wilks Park.
In the absence of any information, and in the absence of any known action by the NSW Government, Council does not intend to move people from where they are sleeping.
This is not to say that Council considers this to be the appropriate outcome. It is not. Council will not, however, accept responsibility for exposing members of the public to even harsher and uncertain living conditions. If that is the outcome which the NSW Government chooses to deliver, then Council will not be the enabler.
People deserve a whole of government response to their care. Council urges the NSW State Government to act and address the unacceptable conditions of the people sleeping in Wilks Park and the concerns of the community generally.