The NSW Government will urgently move to change laws to allow authorities to remove the Martin Place tent city following inaction by the City of Sydney, Premier Gladys Berejiklian has announced.
Ms Berejiklian said the Government will introduce legislation into Parliament this week to end the impasse in Martin Place.
“Homelessness is a major challenge in our community and I am proud of our Government’s record to help our most vulnerable and of course there is more to do,” Ms Berejiklian said.
“However we will not let protestors play political games with those in genuine need of support.
“The NSW Government is putting an end to Council’s refusal to act and will strengthen laws to ensure it does not happen again.”
The bill will empower NSW Police to remove people or goods from Martin Place, and other public reserves in the City of Sydney by proclamation, where there are unacceptable impacts on the public.
“With this new legislation, police will have the power to act quickly to ensure the area remains for the use and enjoyment of all of the citizens of NSW,” Ms Berejiklian said.
Minister for Social Housing Pru Goward said the Department of Family and Community Services (FACS) had been in Martin Place 46 times and secured permanent housing for 73 people.
FACS staff were in Martin Place again this morning and will continue to be there to provide support and accommodation for homeless people.
“Any person who has engaged with FACS workers on the ground in Martin Place has been offered accommodation,” Ms Goward said.
“FACS will continue to visit Martin Place every single day this week.”
The NSW Government has also today announced that an after-hours service for rough sleepers in Sydney has been secured.
The Wayside Chapel will deliver the hub in Potts Point, with the after-hours service to be fully funded by the NSW Government.
The Wayside Chapel has been providing support and sense of community to the City’s homeless since 1964. The service could also operate 24 hours a day pending a development application with the City of Sydney.
This service will in no way be run by the protestors at Martin Place, but the space will be a place where rough sleepers can engage with services so they can get off the streets and into accommodation as well as access to hot showers, meals and laundry facilities.
“Countless people who’ve fallen by the Wayside at some time can testify to the value of finding the support of the right people as crucial to their journey back to life,” said Reverend Graham Long AM, Pastor and CEO of The Wayside Chapel.
The NSW Government has the biggest social housing building program of any state or territory across the country.
The Communities Plus Program will deliver 23,500 new and replacement social housing and affordable housing dwellings and 40,000 private housing dwellings over 10 years.
The NSW Government’s $1.1 Billion Social and Affordable Housing Fund will also deliver 2,200 additional social and affordable homes in phase 1.