Let’s fix this crisis … now
PEAKER Sue Hickey’s proposal to establish shipping container “villages” to serve as crisis accommodation for those who otherwise would be forced to sleep rough appears to have merit.
It’s exactly the sort of short-term solution to this very real problem that the Mercury’s Give Them Shelter campaign wants to see delivered.
Not only could these villages be established within weeks at insignificant cost to taxpayers, but Ms Hickey’s proposal to include in them space for crisis service providers to set up shop means they could deliver real outcomes.
But we also acknowledge that we are no experts when it comes to providing frontline support to our community’s most vulnerable.
Perhaps those who are will say the village proposal is too simplistic, or that it would not work — for whatever reason. If so, fair enough. The point is that at least Ms Hickey is having a crack. Premier Will Hodgman and his Cabinet should follow suit.
As we have now been forced to point out three times in this column over the past week, the initiatives that Housing Minister Roger Jaensch has implemented in this space are welcome. But they are all — at best — medium to long-term options. There is nothing new that the State Government has yet come up with that helps those at rock bottom get through this winter.
And this is a government responsibility. It should form a collaborative taskforce to deal with this crisis, to corral the many ideas — and deliver outcomes. Now. Today. Don’t delay.
As TasCOSS chief executive Kym Goodes says, this is now a crisis that “requires leadership and a strategic approach that moves beyond the current ‘business as usual’ options and initiatives”.
For the Cabinet to — so far — apparently decide that there is no need for urgent action on this crisis will no doubt leave many in the community agreeing with Speaker Hickey’s conclusion that the government just doesn’t “give a sh … t” about helping.
The Mercury does not subscribe to that view. We believe Minister Jaensch really does want to help. But perception in politics is reality. And the perception on this issue is far from great for the government.
It is therefore a good thing that the government says it is “actively considering” the proposals put forward by Ms Hickey — both the shipping container village plan, and what she calls a “community emergency housing taskforce” charged with coordinating a response to the emergency housing needs of the community.
It is clear from our reporting today that there is much work to be done, not the least of which might be in clearing some of the obstacles standing in the way of a commonsense approach to addressing this crisis.
Witness the ban on people living in caravans on private property. Yes, that rule makes sense in normal times. But surely council officers could be empowered to turn a blind eye for the next few months.
Meanwhile, up in New Norfolk the Mayor tells us is there is a perfectly serviceable 30-room facility lying vacant — but the State Government says it fails to pass some WH&S rules. Come on. Ridiculous!
As we said yesterday, the time for talk is over. As a community we need to act now on homelessness — and the government must lead the way.
The government should form a collaborative taskforce to deal with this crisis, to corral the ideas — and deliver outcomes.