Peter Sandeman told InDaily that “NIMBY [not in my backyard] solutions like dry zones” did nothing to help at-risk people who used the parklands, instead promoting alienation and resistance to help from social services.
“Buck passing and displacement does nothing to help the vulnerable women and men sleeping rough in the parklands,” Sandeman said.
“While apparently meeting the demands for action, dry zones and evictions have only a short-term effect and simply reinforce the alienation and resistance of rough sleepers to accepting help and moving to alternate accommodation.
“This is a complex situation, and demands for simplistic NIMBY solutions such as dry zones and displacement do not tackle the real issues.
“Some of the rough sleepers are ill, some are vulnerable, some are resistant to being housed and all are deeply suspicious of services seeking to help.”
Councillors Alex Antic and Anne Moran told a council committee meeting this week that the “blunt instrument” of the dry zone had been effective because it had moved people suffering addictions and exhibiting anti-social behaviour away from city residents, particularly those living along South Terrace.
They suggested it was outside the remit of local government to deal with mental illness, drug addiction and anti-social behaviour.
“If the problem of annihilation drinking [continues], that’s squarely at the foot of the State Government,” Moran told the meeting, adding that opponents of the dry zone were “the uncaring ones”.
But Sandeman said the council should accept more responsibility for helping rough sleepers in the parklands.
“We are all responsible for helping the homeless amongst us, and this problem requires a whole-of-community response,” he said.
“Rough sleepers in the parklands are members of our community who have high and complex needs.
“All levels of government and community and business groups need to contribute and jointly support the most vulnerable in our city.”
In response to Sandeman’s comments, Lord Mayor Martin Haese said that the issues around vulnerable people were complex, “which is why the Senior Officers Group (SOG) is working together to implement a range of measures that address these issues”.
“The extension of the dry zone provisions is a necessary transitionary mechanism available to council to directly address the issues,” he said.
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