Homelessness is an increasing issue in NSW. People are considered homeless when they are without accommodation that is safe, secure, appropriate and affordable. Homelessness can result from a range of many factors including unemployment, poverty, cultural disadvantage, ill health and particularly poor mental health.

The NSW Department of Communities and Justice have developed a Protocol for Homeless People in Public Places.

The Protocol provides a framework for interactions between Council officers, officials of participating NSW Government organisations and homeless people in public places.

Underlying Principles of the Protocol

The protocol is based on the following principles:

Homeless people have the same entitlement as any member of the public to: 

  • Be in public places, at the same time respecting the right of local communities to live in a safe and peaceful environment
  • Participate in public activities or events
  • Carry with them and store their own belongings.
The Protocol

A homeless person is not to be approached unless: 

  • They request assistance
  • They appear to be distressed or in need of assistance
  • An official seeks to engage with the person for the purpose of information exchange or provision of a service
  • Their behaviour threatens their safety or the safety and security of people around them
  • Their behaviour is likely to result in damage to property or have a negative impact on natural and cultural conservation of environment, including cultural heritage, water pollution and fire risks
  • They are sheltering in circumstances that place their or others’ health and safety at risk (for example, staying in derelict buildings, high risk areas)
  • They are a child who appears to be under the age of 16
  • They are a young person who appears to be 16 to 17 years old who may be at risk of significant harm
  • They are a child or young person who is in the care of the Secretary of the Department of Communities and Justice or the parental responsibility of the Minister for Families and Communities.

Protocol for homeless people in public places | Family & Community Services, 2019


If you or someone you care about is experiencing homelessness or at risk of experiencing homelessness please contact the following services.  

Argyle Housing

Provider of social and affordable housing.

Website: https://argylehousing.com.au/

Telephone: 1300 274 953 or email

Link 2 Home

A state wide homelessness information referral service available 24 hours, 7 days a week, every day of the year.

Website: https://www.homelessnessnsw.org.au/

Telephone: 1800 152 152

The Illawarra and South Coast Tenants Services (ISCTAAS)

Website: https://illawarralegalcentre.org.au/
Telephone: 02 4274 3475 or 1800 807 225