The Narrm-Melbourne branch has made a formal submission to the Melbourne City Council in opposition to the proposed ammendments to local laws which would essentially criminalise rough sleeping. Read our submission below.
To the Manager Governance and Legal, Melbourne City Council
Please accept my submission to the proposed Activities (Public Amenity and Security) Local Law 2017, as secretary of the Narrm-Melbourne general membership branch of the Industrial Workers of the World.
The IWW recognises that homelessness is a crisis which effects a large and growing proportion of our community. We welcome opening debate on complex societal and demographic issues, but unreservedly condemn the ammendments as proposed.
Firstly, The IWW is deeply committed to democratic processes. We hope that the Melbourne City Council is also. A fundamental tenet of democracy is and should be that those who make a decision are those who make it. In this regard we believe that - while all Melbournians deserve a voice in this matter - homeless people and their representative bodies (eg the Homeless Persons Union Victoria) should take precedence in these proceedings, and no decision should be made without their approval.
Second, The IWW considers the proposed ammendments to be incompatible with the intent of the Victorian charter of human rights. Specifically, the proposed ammendments contravene section 10 of the charter, as these ammendments would clearly treat homeless people in a demeaning and disrespectful manner.
Furthermore, there are a great many options available to council which do not involve penalising people for homelessness - but rather, prioritise giving homes to peoplw who need them. The IWW encourages council to pursue those options.
Finally, the ammendments as they stand will not only not alleviate the concerns raised by councillors but exacerbate them. Removing the security and posessions of those who live on a razor's edge with the stated intention of improving the city and the lives of its occupants is deluded at best and an intentional falsehood at worst. This raises an important question: is the Council interested in helping homeless people, or is it seeking to make homeless people invisible? Is homelessness the problem - or homeless people?
The IWW suspects that the Melbourne City Council, in proposing these ammendments to the Activities (Public Amenity and Security) Local Law, is more interested in preserving the image of Melbourne as a prosperous and welcoming city than it is in engaging in the harder work of ensuring that all are welcome in Melbourne and all Melbournians prosper.