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August 17, 2021

Adelaide Zero Project requests city council support amid homelessness increase

A homeless support agency has called on the Adelaide City Council to consider offering $140,000 to fund its ongoing work after a report found there were 60 more rough sleepers in the CBD in June.

  • Words: Angela Skujins
  • Main image: Nat Rogers

Former executive director of the Dun Dunstan Foundation and current CEO of the Australian Alliance to End Homelessness, David Pearson said at an Adelaide City Council committee meeting this week there was an increase in CBD rough sleepers.

As of 30 June, 266 rough sleepers were recorded in the inner city, according to the most recent Adelaide Zero Project list.

This is a 20 per cent jump on the month prior, which counted 206 people sleeping rough.

Pearson attended Town Hall on Tuesday night as part of a presentation to councillors on the Toward Home Alliance — the State Government’s $15 million homelessness services reform, led by Lutheran Care.

He also provided an update on the Adelaide Zero Project and requested funding from the council. 

“The Adelaide Zero Project was led by the Don Dunstan Foundation, but that fell away last year,” Pearson said.

“We allowed these strategic partnerships with the council to lapse because we didn’t know what the future would hold.

“Now we have that certainty of the Housing Authority’s commitment and Towards Home, we’ve written to the Lord Mayor to re-establish our strategic partnership with council, and to make sure we continue the focus on the inner city and rough sleeping. 

“We’re seeking to maintain the momentum of what we’ve done.”

Seeing campers, on the way here from my house, in the south parklands shows we’ve still got a long way to go.
—David Pearson

Pearson said Toward Home Alliance has requested the council consider “re-committing” by providing $140,000 funding over 12 months “for the continuation of the project.”

Councillor Phil Martin asked the administration if and when this would be put to the council as a proposal.

Clare Mockler, who was recently selected as the city council’s CEO after serving as acting CEO since April, said the intention was to bring the item back to council members for a vote.

Pearson told Town Hall the leap in homelessness recorded in June could be partially attributed to “a technical element” regarding how the Adelaide Zero Project collects its information, “but it has increased, there’s no denying that.”

“Since the project was created, we’ve housed 1300 people who were sleeping rough,” Pearson told the chamber.


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“But seeing campers on the way here from my house in the south parklands shows we’ve still got a long way to go.”

The Adelaide Zero Project, run by a consortium of non-government and government organisations, has collected a by-name list of rough sleepers since May 2018.

The dashboard aims to provide real-time data on city homelessness and ensure the number of people sleeping rough in the inner city is no greater than the amount of housing available within the next month. 

The project also tracks the total number of people sleeping rough “for the first time”, which, as of 30 June, was 71 — a 43-person increase from the month prior (28).

The number of people temporarily sheltered reduced slightly from 76 in May to 73 in June, and those permanently housed also decreased, from 27 to 19 for the same period.

Councillor Alex Hyde said he’d noticed anecdotally a large crowd of “anti-social” rough sleepers in Whitmore Square, and asked if the alliance had made tackling First Nations homelessness in that area a priority. 

Pearson said the council commissioned a study to investigate “exactly this issue”, titled the Aboriginal mobility data report, but eight months after its publication in January it’s unclear what has been done.

“That report is now with the State Government,” Pearson said.

“They (the government) set up a taskforce with a number of representatives a month ago, and they are still considering it, but there is a bit of urgency behind the State Government’s response. 

“We need to know what the State Government’s response is.”

CityMag asked the Department for Human Services if any of the report’s 29 recommendations had been actioned or considered.

A spokesperson from the State Government said in a statement the Wellbeing and Safety Taskforce is “an across-government taskforce established to improve the safety and wellbeing of vulnerable visitors to Adelaide from remote communities, as well as reduce anti-social behaviour.”

The taskforce is supporting both visitor and resident safety and is also facilitating the return to country for those people who wish to go home,” the spokesperson said.

To support this important work, the taskforce is also working with Aboriginal elders from a range of nations, as well as service providers to assist people with health needs, safety, court matters and opportunities to return home.”

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