Homeless numbers double in the Royal National Park

The number of people sleeping rough in the Royal National Park has doubled on the previous year according to Sutherland police.

Earlier this month around seven officers spent two days scouring bush to report and mark where people were living. 

Sutherland Crime Prevention officer Senior Constable Dave Hayes said 20 sites were identified- up from 10 in 2015.

‘’Every year we work with the Rural Fire Service and the National Park and Wildlife Service to plot the locations of these sites in case of a bush fire,’’ he said.

‘’Not only do we know where they are in case anything happens but we can put them in touch with services if they want to.’’

Most of the people living roughly were men with some sites a two hour walk off the main tracks.

As part of the operation Polair was used to plot the rough area before officers on the ground found the exact sites.

Senior Constable Hayes said some men were living in tents while others have more sophisticated set ups.

‘’There is a massive barrier there initially,’’ he said.

‘’They’re wary of police but you break down the barriers and they begin to trust us.’’

He said they had success in recent years helping people out of homelessness and find work and a stable home.

A Sutherland Shire Council spokesman said over the last 10 years there has been a steady increase in homelessness in the Sutherland Shire. 

‘’While exact numbers are hard to estimate, anecdotal evidence indicates there are around 30 homeless people residing in the Royal National Park and 12 known people residing in various parks, reserves and rough sleeping in public places,’’ he said.

‘’These figures do not include secondary homelessness which is characterized by temporary unstable accommodation in the homes of friends or family.’’

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