Responding to people sleeping rough during extreme weather in Byron Bay

Project Proposal: To be piloted in 2018/2019

Project Proposal

Through the provision of temporary shelter during extreme weather events, this project will increase the resilience and wellbeing of Byron Shire’s rough sleeping community. This project aims to:

  • alleviate the physical and psychological impacts of extreme weather events on rough sleepers in Byron Bay
  • alleviate community-wide concerns regarding security and the impromptu use of both public and private property by rough sleepers during extreme weather events, and
  • increase the capacity of under-pressure community service providers in the region.


Homelessness is an increasing issue in Byron Bay. The Byron Shire has the second highest number of rough sleepers in NSW behind inner city Sydney. There is nowhere for rough sleepers to go for shelter on any given night in Byron Bay, and no day-time drop in centre for those experiencing various forms of homelessness.

Each year, the Byron Shire experiences 3-6 extreme weather events, typically heavy rainfall over a number of days and nights and associated flooding. Generally, these events aren’t serious enough to trigger formal State Government Emergency Evacuation Responses, but they have significant physical, emotional and psychological impacts on the large numbers of rough sleepers in the local area.

The Project

This collaborative project seeks to address the immediate need of rough sleepers in the Byron Shire during extreme weather events. It will provide shelter, bedding, food and drinks, dry clothing and basic material aid for short periods (typically 3-5 days max.)

The project will be auspiced by the Byron Community Centre. Shelter will be provided by The Byron Uniting Church and Anglican Church. St Vincent de Paul will provide financial support as well as dry clothing, and tea and coffee facilities. The Liberation Larder will provide food, and trained volunteers will be sourced via the Byron Shire Volunteer Hub. Appropriately qualified security staff and community service workers will be contracted to oversee the operation of each shelter.

Instead of being forced to shelter in shop alcoves or other private property, the response will provide a safe and supportive solution for rough sleepers during extreme weather events and ensure that those affected have the best chance of a swift recovery. As well as directly benefiting rough sleepers during extreme weather events the project will improve the safety and security of the wider community and alleviate community-wide concerns regarding the impromptu use of both public and private property by rough sleepers during extreme weather events.

$20 000 in funding is required as a seed-grant to assist in the design, implementation, evaluation and refining of the project during the pilot period. Funding will also assist with the purchase of practical project resources.

For more information about this project contact: Elyssa Purdie P: 02 66 856 807 E: