Managing homelessness responses in a local government setting provided me with a masterclass in negotiation, collaboration and frustration. While simple geography often places Councils at the forefront of response, local government in Australia has little responsibility and even fewer available funds to embark on the big actions that will make a difference in addressing homelessness.
It is a constant negotiation, and Councils are often ill-equipped to meet the complexities of individual situations and torn by conflicting responsibilities. In addition, a range of social, political and economic expectations can often mean that decisions made by Councils further entrench, rather than reduce homelessness.
But I don't think this should be the case. Local Government is in the perfect position, at the frontline, to make a difference.
Drawing on local and international experience, my research, undertaken in the UK, US and Canada, fills a gap in knowledge regarding the role of Local Government in homelessness response. The report includes a set of guidelines and case studies that will help build effective whole-of-community responses, for use in Australia and overseas.
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