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Asia Minute: Homeless in Sydney

Wikimedia Commons
Wikimedia Commons

A dispute over a homeless encampment in Australia’s largest city has apparently come to an end. The mayor of Sydney says the city will provide a safe space for the homeless—although several details remain uncertain. HPR’s Bill Dorman has more in today’s Asia Minute.


For more than a month, dozens of tents have occupied a pedestrian mall in Sydney’s central business district. Homeless people have gathered in the area in differing concentrations in the past, but the pace has picked up over the last year.

Police cleared the area about six weeks ago calling the situation a public nuisance.

A more organized tent city then sprang up in the same location. A kitchen tent was established and volunteers laid down certain rules—among them, no alcohol and no drugs.

Local media say the grouping had grown to more than 40 tents by the weekend on Martin Place – steps away from the Federal Reserve Bank of Australia.

The state government of New South Wales said it was the city’s responsibility to clear the area.

The Lord Mayor of Sydney said she would not move anyone unless a safe space was provided for them.

Monday night, Sydney’s city council approved 100,000 dollars to establish that space—although the location of a permanent site remains uncertain.

The mayor said she hoped the state government would add another 100,000 dollars, but that financial commitment remains unclear.

By Tuesday morning, local media reported tents still remained.

Organizers of the tent city say their actions were designed in part as a protest against the lack of affordable housing in Sydney.

Bill Dorman has been the news director at Hawaiʻi Public Radio since 2011.
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