Homelessness in Nepean Region shows up Liberals: Maurice Girotto calls for Council Action

The New South Wales State budget proclaimed last week offers nothing more to homeless people and it gives nothing more to Public Housing.

The Nepean area of Sydney already has high levels of homelessness. The demand for Public Housing has also increased.

The problem of homelessness in the Nepean area is something the big plans to explode the population of Penrith City do not address. The New South Wales Liberal government has a lot to say about first home buyers’ relief and making house construction easier and so forth. But for whom are these measures put in place?

In the case of Penrith City it can only really be for the hordes of immigrants who are yet to set foot in Australia.

Whatever the scenario, the poor and the disadvantaged cannot benefiit from stamp duty relief, special bonuses and easier planning laws.

Way back in September 2008, the Rudd government’s Minister for Housing, Tanya Plibersek, was a keynote speaker at the forum Towards Ending Homelessness in the Nepean held at Penrith.

It was agreed at that forum to establish a Regional Task Force bringing together all stakeholders including the four local Councils, key government agencies, business,  homelessness networks, NGO’s and the community sector. Plibersek launched that Regional Taskforce at Penrith City Council in September 2009. Since then, what?

A Nepean Youth Homelessness Service (NYHS) was founded for the estimated 100 youth who live rough in the City. A worthy thing. But …

Yet, the situation is now getting more complex. On March 20, a Forum was held in Parramatta on “refugee” and “immigrant” youth homelessness. It is very nice going that this new band of arrivals whose elders have helped themselves to Public Housing and Community Housing are now also to be privileged again.

The situation was always adjudged as serious. A so-called Nepean homelessness consortium came into being representing the following organisations and to work in the other areas too.  They represent a range of different funding streams.

The agencies were:

  • Wentworth Community Housing
  • Youth Accommodation Interagency Nepean(YAIN)
  • The Salvation Army Recovery Centre, Leura
  • Barnardos Penrith Centre
  • Penrith City Council
  • Nepean Network Office- Community Services
  • San Miguel
  • Mackillop Family Services
  • Blue Gum Inc.
  • Nepean Youth Homelessness Service(NYHS)
  • Nepean Youth Accommodation Services(NYAS)
  • Nurreen- Hawkesbury Women’s Accommodation and Support Service
  • Penrith Women’s Refuge
  • Salvation Army Hawkesbury
  • The Turning Point Youth Accommodation Services
  • Aftercare – PHaMS, HASI and HASI for Kooris
  • Dept of Corrective Services (NSW)
  • The Richmond Fellowship
  • Fusion Accommodation and Support Services
  • Blue Mountains Youth Accommodation and Support Service (BMYASS)
  • Project 40 Blue Mountains/Hawkesbury
  • Project 40 Penrith/Blacktown
  • Wimlah
  • Dept of Education and Training (NSW)
  • Centrelink- including Community Engagement Team  (Cth)
  • Wesley Mission- Adolescent Services; Aged Services
  • Mission Australia including Fairfax House and Lemongrove Lodge
  • Adult Homelessness Network Nepean (aka the ASAAP Network)
  • Baptist Emergency Accommodation Ministry (B.E.A.M.- Windsor Baptist Church)
  • Blue Mountains Family Support Service
  • Blue Mountains Women’s Health Centre
  • Mountains Community Resource Network (MCRN)
  • Blue Mountains Men’s Emergency Accommodation
  • Domestic Violence Support Western Sydney Service (DVSWSS)
  • Hawkesbury District Health Service
  • Hawkesbury Community Kitchen
  • Hawkesbury Community Services
  • Jobfind Windsor
  • Mountains Youth Support Team (MYST)
  • The Women’s Cottage (Richmond)
  • Indigenous Disability Service
  • Sydney West Area Health Service including Mental Health and Drug and Alcohol services
  • Sydney West Multicultural Service
  • Church of the Rock  (Pastor Martin Beckett)
  • Breakthru Employment
  • Western Sydney Regional Public Tenant’s Council
  • Junaya for Families

Of course, the solution of homelessness at the National and State level demands the sort of radical action that the mainstream parties would not sanction.

We would initially demand:

  1. The nationalization of certain unused buildings and other facilities and their conversion into emergency housing;
  2. The diversion of funds away from the useless infrastructure projects of the Big Australia madness – and into Public Housing.

However, at our local level and in the here and now, the Penrith City Council can and should act alone to provide emergency accommodation.

  • The Council should review its available resources of land and buildings.
  • It should offer various concessions to other groups involved in housing.
  • The Council should note that the provision of housing to marginalized Australians serves to minimise crime and other problems in Penrith City making it a safer community.
  • The Council should involve the entire community in solving a dangerous and tragic social problem.

One thing is sure the Liberals who want power over Penrith City will give nothing tangible to solve the problem. Their Macquarie Street masters make that very clear.

In the election of September 8, Maurice Girotto in East Ward is dedicated to radical action.