19 January 2023

Premier's office won't commit to housing support

| Zoe Cartwright
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Temporary housing at Moruya Airport

Temporary housing at Moruya Airport. Photo: Kim Treasure.

Eurobodalla Mayor Mathew Hatcher remains hopeful the NSW Government will shortly offer a solution to the homelessness crisis at Moruya’s North Head campground, but the Premier’s office was tight-lipped about any potential support.

Mayor Hatcher wrote to NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet in December, outlining the seriousness of the situation and asking the Premier to urgently find housing appropriate to the needs of the people currently making the campground their home.

The campground is managed by Eurobodalla Council, which is allowing the growing number of people living there to stay beyond the NSW Government’s mandated 50-day-per-year rule.

Region asked the Premier’s office if the announcement of a solution – or any other support – would be forthcoming.

READ ALSO Housing crisis prompts Eurobodalla council to develop new strategy

The Premier’s office handballed the inquiry to the Department of Planning and Environment, which provided the following response.

“The Department of Planning and Environment continues to work with council to explore solutions to address housing supply in Eurobodalla Shire,” a spokesperson said.

“Last year, the council secured $1.4 million under the Regional Housing Fund to deliver essential infrastructure, and a further $350,000 to speed up assessment of development applications and planning proposals through the Faster Local Assessment Grants program.

“It has also applied for funding under the latest round of the $300 million Accelerated Infrastructure Fund program, with successful councils to be informed soon.”

Even if the council is successful in its application for an Accelerated Infrastructure grant, it appears unlikely any targeted support, or any support directly from the Premier’s office, will be forthcoming.

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Mayor Hatcher said the council was showing discretion and compassion in not enforcing the 50-day-stay campground regulation because there was nowhere else for people living there to go.

But beyond that, there is little the council can do.

“The NSW Government is responsible for crisis and social housing, and they must step in and help us solve this issue,” he said.

“These are primitive campgrounds, meaning there is no permanent hot water or enclosed showers. They simply aren’t a suitable place for people to be living permanently.”

The council has been working with local homelessness agencies, and case managers have made weekly visits to the campground, where more than 50 people experiencing homelessness are currently living.

“The local agencies are doing great work in terms of providing support, but what no-one can offer right now is a suitable place for these people to live,” the Mayor said.

“We need the Premier to act quickly. The NSW Government could buy a motel or a block of units to temporarily house people in a crisis.

“The situation has become critical and now is the time for the NSW Government to do something.

“I don’t want people living in freezing cold tents again this winter, and the local council installing temporary hot showers to provide some small comfort and dignity.

“In Australia in 2023, everyone should have a roof over their head and the security of a place to call home.

“I’m asking the Premier to provide this basic human right for the people living at North Head campground.”

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