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Response to Proposed City of Melbourne Bylaw Amendment (Homelessness Bylaw)


The proposed amendments to the City of Melbourne’s activities local law (2009) will
have two substantive effects:

Broadening the applicability of the term ‘camping’ so us to effectively prohibit rough sleeping (throughout this document we will call this measure the camping prohibition), and Council to Homeless Persons – Submission to City of Melbourne –Proposed amendments to the Activities Local Law 2009.

To increase Council officers’ power to confiscate unattended belongings, and to charge those owners seeking their return (which we call the unattended goods provision).

While not explicitly stated in the bylaw, such changes are clearly designed to be primarily applied against those who are experiencing homelessness in the City of Melbourne. A broad ban on camping that fails to specify the defining traits of camping leaves Council officers with significant discretion over its application. It is extremely likely that it will be applied in such a manner as to prohibit those people who have no access to private space from sleeping in public space. Not only is this an indirect ban on homelessness, but it creates a bylaw which is impossible for people experiencing homelessness to comply with, and as such will not be effective.

Once we fully recognise housing as a core component of mental health care we can take steps towards preventing the onset of mental illness, achieving positive treatment outcomes, and sustaining mental health gains into the future.

Please note, this publication was published prior to CHP’s branding refresh in 2022.

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