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Homeless register debate

ON THE CARDS: At the Liberation Larder lunch are Kusha Gale, Christian George, Luan Souza and co-ordinator Helen Hamilton.
ON THE CARDS: At the Liberation Larder lunch are Kusha Gale, Christian George, Luan Souza and co-ordinator Helen Hamilton. Megan Kinninment

CREATING a register of the permanently homeless in Byron Bay will be debated by Byron Shire Council at its next meeting.

A proposal to establish a Resident Homeless Card, identifying the homeless, has been proposed by Cr Paul Spooner who said it would be a way for local services to identify those within the community who needed assistance; collect data on the extent of homelessness in the area; and, monitor trends on homelessness

The card would be a practical way to provide Medic Alert information and be a recognised identification method for police and council staff.

It may even allow retailers to support the homeless by providing discounts or free services, such as suspended coffees, he said.

The council has a homeless policy that could be amended to include support for the Resident Homeless Card, Cr Spooner said.

The idea has the support of service providers in the Bay including Liberation Larder and the homeless group along with various charity groups who deal with the homeless on a daily basis, Cr Spooner said.

Helen Hamilton from Liberation Larder - a free meal service operating out of the Byron Bay Community Centre - said the homeless card would help people living rough in the town.

"Having a homeless card will provide more safety for the permanently homeless. They'll be able to use it if they are at a doctors or it could be used as identification if their belongings are stolen," she said.

"The advantage for us and other service providers is that the registration process will allow us to measure how large the permanent homeless population is in Byron Bay ... (therefore) allowing us to improve services and help apply for grants and the resources we need.

"It will be helpful for the council rangers as well to know who is actually permanently homeless so they can direct that person to the right services instead of just being fined and moved on.'

Ms Hamilton said Liberation Larder had introduced a similar concept requiring people to be registered before they are served meals.

Topics:  byron shire council, homeless



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