Proposed homelessness laws heavy-handed and counter-productive

The NSW Government’s proposed new laws to give police more power to forcibly evict homeless people from public spaces are heavy-handed and an ineffective way of dealing with homelessness in the inner city.

‘There are over 400 rough sleepers in the city on any given night, and these laws will affect all of them,’ said Roslyn Cook, Managing Solicitor at PIAC’s Homeless Persons’ Legal Service.

‘The NSW Government’sresponse to this situation does nothing to address the real issue causing homelessness, which is the lack of appropriate crisis accommodation – and more critically, the severe shortage of affordable long-term housing options,’ she added.

Lou Schetzer, Senior Policy Officer at PIAC’s Homeless Persons’ Legal Service, said that the proposed new laws undermine two decades of carefully negotiated policy in relation to rough-sleeping in the inner city.

‘For the past eighteen years, NSW Police have been guided by the Protocol for Homeless People, which sets a national benchmark when it comes to ensuring homeless people are treated respectfully and aren’t discriminated against because of their homeless status.

‘These proposed new laws take us back to the last century when it comes to dealing with people sleeping rough,’ said Lou Schetzer.

PIAC calls on the NSW Government to take real action to address the causes of homelessness. ‘We need a compassionate response to this issue,’ said Roslyn Cook. ‘Instead of addressing the real issue, the proposed laws will make life harder for people who are already doing it incredibly tough.’

MEDIA CONTACT: Media and Communications Manager, Gemma Pearce: 0478 739 280.

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