Parramatta homeless initiative a success

Homeless old man

Homeless old man

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by StreetCorner

The first ever street count of homeless people in Parramatta was held on Monday 15 February and organisers have said the results will assist in future policy development to combat homelessness.

“This project has provided us with firm data that will form part of the overall research program we are undertaking with our partners at the University of Western Sydney” said Lord Mayor of Parramatta, Cr Paul Garrard.

”The data includes consultations with homeless people, businesses and service providers to better understand the reasons people end up sleeping on the streets,” he said. “Our homelessness policy will be developed to improve social outcomes and this data will be invaluable.”

Street count data assesses the number of rough sleepers, or primary homeless, as well as the numbers of people using emergency and crisis accommodation, the secondary homeless. The survey counted 81 rough sleepers on the night and a further 285 secondary homeless, a total of 366.

The count was a joint initiative between Parramatta City Council and the University of Western Sydney (UWS) and was made possible by the efforts of 130 volunteers who undertook a training course and were led on the night by trained supervisors.

“I’d like to thank all the volunteers who gave up their time to assist with the street count,” said Cr Garrard. “Without their support, and that of the local police services and homeless advisors, we would not have been able to complete this important work.”

Associate Professor Michael Darcy, from the Social Justice Social Change research group at UWS, said it is important to develop a thorough understanding of the extent and experience of homeless.

“Having these figures is extremely helpful, as it provides a clear picture of the homeless situation in Parramatta as well as evidence that homelessness is a problem that is not confined to the centre of the city.”

The Parramatta street count took place at the same time as a similar exercise in the City of Sydney in order to gain an accurate regional picture of homelessness. The results of the study will now inform Parramatta City Council’s homelessness policy and program development.

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Bill Cashman posts

The number of homeless is startling, and increasing. While Councils are developing programs to address the issue (hopefully with significant success), the general public can help by supporting initiatives like "Swags for Homeless". These schemes don't solve the issue, but they do provide some level of protection for those imperiled by lack of shelter. Donations of money are tax deductable - donations of time are wonderful! And no, I'm not associated with this organisation in any way - I just think it seems very worthwhile.

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