City centre homelessness situation escalates

City centre homelessness situation escalates

Moves are being made to address a situation where homeless people are sleeping in Mount Gambier’s Commercial Street.

Community concern has been growing regarding several homeless people who had been sleeping in a front alcove of the Town Hall 

The situation escalated last week, after Mount Gambier police were called to the Cave Gardens on Tuesday evening after reports of a disturbance.

A SAPOL spokesperson said a group of adults behaving disorderly was directed to leave the area.

A 30-year-old Mount Gambier man threatened police and failed to leave the area as directed resulting in his arrest.

The arrested man was bailed to attend Mount Gambier Magistrates Court on May 7.

The following evening members of the group moved further west along the main street to the former Sundial Jewellers entrance, before relocating elsewhere.

A SAPOL spokesperson said local police were aware of the situation.

“Homelessness is not a crime but is a matter for the community as a whole,” the spokesperson said.

“When police respond to incidents and it becomes apparent a person may be homeless they are referred to Homeless Connect SA and AC Care locally.

“Police perform a collaborative role assisting people with contact and referral to appropriate services.”

The spokesperson said the Cave Gardens area was a declared dry zone.

“It’s an offence to possess open liquor or consume alcohol in the dry zone,” they said.

“These offences are expiable and both attract a fine of $160 + victim of crime levy $99 for a total of $259.

“Police encourage members of the public to report incidents when they are occurring … by contacting the police assistance line on 131 444.

“I have spoken with Limestone Coast management and it is my understanding that patrols regularly are present in the area.”

Mount Gambier City Council’s Corporate and Regulatory Services general manager Jane Fetherstonhaugh said council was actively involved in remedying the situation.

“We are aware of this situation and council is in the process of arranging a meeting with SAPOL and relevant support agencies to discuss the matter further,” she said.

“At the time of writing, it appears the group has moved on however, we recognise that homelessness means that people do move around our community in their search for safety and shelter.

“The action that council can take is limited under Council Bylaws.

“However, we will not tolerate any unacceptable behaviour in the area and will continue to report instances of inappropriate behaviour to police.

“We also need to ensure that people experiencing homelessness are treated with respect, and hence our efforts to link not only with police but also with homelessness support services.”

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