August 6-12 marks Homeless Week, where police will again partner with Mission Australia to collect and donate spare police issue boots to those in need, as part of the corporately supported annual ‘Boot Drive.’
Police from the Hume last year gave 30 pairs of shoes, and will spend the next week gathering more donations across the district.
Although a drop in the bucket, this is a very simple initiative where police officers across the state can make a small contribution and heighten awareness surrounding the realities of homelessness.
Although minor compared to capital cities, homelessness remains an issue within the Hume Police District, and there are common misconceptions held in regard to legalities and what help is available.
The NSW Police Force has long been committed to the Protocol for Homeless People in Public Places, which provides a framework for how government agencies, including police, deal with victims of homelessness.
Homeless people have the right to move through public spaces, carry with them their belongings and attend public events just like any other member of the community.
Being homeless or sleeping rough in a public space is not a crime. The primary reason police will interact with homeless people is to offer assistance.
The interagency protocol articulates that police will not move on or detain persons unless they are committing an offence, are behaving in a manner which causes fear or alarm, or are in need of protection.
Police urge members of the public to contact local police if they have concerns for a homeless person; especially during this cold period. Police will always attend and make a welfare assessment and we can act as a conduit to support services and crisis accommodation if need be.
Short term and crisis accommodation can be sought through the NSW Government “Link2home” service (1800 152 152) which operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week. For those escaping domestic violence, assistance is also available through the NSW Domestic Violence Line (1800 656 463).
Again, local police are able to assist people getting in contact with support services – we are here to help.