People are considered homeless when they are without accommodation that is safe, secure, appropriate and affordable. Homelessness can result from a range of many factors including unemployment, poverty, cultural disadvantage, ill health and particularly poor mental health.
The NSW Department of Family and Community Services, Housing NSW has developed a protocol for Homeless People in Public Places. The protocol provides a framework for interactions between Council officers, officials of participating NSW Government organisations and homeless people in public places.
The protocol states that a homeless person should be left alone unless:
- They request assistance;
- They appear to be distressed or in need of assistance;
- Their behaviour or where they are seeking shelter threatens their or others’ safety;
- Their behaviour is likely to result in damage to property or the environment;
- They are a child who appears to be under the age of 16;
- They are a young person who appears to be 16 to 17 years old who may be at risk of significant harm; or
- They are a child or young person who is in the care of the Director-General of the Department of Family and Community Services or the parental responsibility of the Minister for Family and Community Services