City of Greater Geelong Acting Manager Central Geelong Justin Hinch:
Has council received complaints regarding the people who have been living/loitering outside of 7/11 over the past few weeks?
The City has been in contact with businesses in central Geelong who are concerned about individuals sleeping rough in Little Malop Street Central.
Did these complaints come from traders/and or the public? What were complaints relating to and how has council responded?
We have provided information to central Geelong business operators about a variety of activities and initiatives that are planned or in place to support those that find themselves in unfortunate circumstances.
Does council have the ability to intervene and/or work with police to move these people on?
This includes the Towards Home Program, which is one component of the Victorian Government’s ‘Home for Victorians Strategy’. The program, due to commence in Geelong in February 2019, will include assertive outreach, specialist personnel and case management.
The City has also secured funding through the Department of Health and Human Services as part of its Social Housing Investment Planning grant program to develop a Social Housing Plan.
We will continue to work directly with Victoria Police and social support agencies to find a solution for those that may be sleeping rough in central Geelong.
Is council keen for more police presence in the mall area?
The City does not have authority to direct individuals to move on from a public space, and refer any reports of criminal behaviour to Victoria Police.
Improving social spaces such as Little Malop Central require a holistic approach involving many stakeholders, such as police, the City, traders and community support service providers.
We’re working with Victoria Police to keep track issues in the area, and we will continue to address any emerging issues as proactively and effectively as possible.