Birch Ward councillors convene homelessness forum this Friday

While it may not be an issue which is often discussed in regional and rural Victoria, two Hepburn Shire councillors are shining a light on homelessness throughout the region. 

Answers: Birch Ward councillors Kate Redwood (pictured) and Fiona Robson have convened a homelessness forum for Friday.  Picture: Dylan Burns.

Answers: Birch Ward councillors Kate Redwood (pictured) and Fiona Robson have convened a homelessness forum for Friday. Picture: Dylan Burns.

Birch Ward councillors Fiona Robson and Kate Redwood will hold a homelessness forum at the Daylesford Neighbourhood Centre on Friday afternoon, bringing together community members and housing experts to inspect the scope of the issue. 

I was hearing about people found sleeping in places like church porches so there seemed to be a bit of an issue.

Kate Redwood - Birch Ward councillor

Cr Redwood said the forum had been an election promise back in November and would seek to identify the figures and the nature of those sleeping rough in Daylesford and beyond. 

“There was a lot of talk on social media about homelessness in the area before the election and Tony English from Parks Victoria approached the neighbourhood centre saying he was concerned there were lots of people living in the parks,” Cr Redwood said.  

“I was also hearing about people found sleeping in places like church porches so there seemed to be a bit of an issue.” 

The forum which will take place from 2pm until 5pm will feature representatives from Child and Family Services, local churches, Hepburn Shire representatives as well as Macedon MP Mary-Anne Thomas. 

The various groups will look to establish how many people within the community are sleeping rough regularly and what their circumstances are.  

While some estimates have been as high as 60 individuals in Daylesford, the statistics often fail to account for people couch surfing who also may not have a fixed address. 

Cr Redwood said an important element of the forum would be identifying the types of homelessness throughout the shire and then tailoring a response to their needs. 

“It's often quite complex because the needs of someone who was a substance abuse problem and can't hold down a job are vastly different to a mother with three kids who is fleeing an abusive partner.”