The Hon. T.A. FRANKS (14:57): I seek leave to make a brief explanation before addressing a question to the Minister for Human Services on extreme weather response for people rough sleeping.
The Hon. T.A. FRANKS: Members would be well aware of extreme weather responses for those who sleep roughly not just in our cities but across our state, the Code Reds and the Code Blues that we hear of. Those Code Reds and Code Blues assist those sleeping rough by connecting them with support services and providing additional services, including extended operating hours, increased shelter operations, additional food, etc., when weather conditions are extreme. The current triggers for a Code Blue are:
conditions predicted to continue for at least three days by the Bureau of Meteorology with any two of the following:
temperatures dropping below an average night-time low of 6º Celsius;
significant rainfall causing difficulty for unsheltered individuals to remain dry; and
damaging wind gusts posing a high risk for the safety of those unsheltered individuals;
conditions predicted by the BOM to continue for at least five days when temperatures drop below an average night-time low of 5º Celsius; or
any other factors related to extreme winter weather which require a Code Blue response.
This week on Tuesday night we had a temperature of 4º Celsius, on Wednesday night the prediction is for 4º, on Thursday night 5º, but then on Friday the prediction is for 7º. This will not trigger a Code Blue response, but I think all members would agree that this is now very much the time when winter cold is hitting those of us in our comfortable homes, let alone those of us on the streets. My questions to the minister are:
1. What rationale is there for the current Code Blue criteria?
2. Are there any plans to review it?
3. Why, in a week that is this cold, are we not seeing a Code Blue response triggered, given the cold?
The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK (Minister for Human Services) (15:00): I thank the honourable member for her question and her interest in this important area. The triggers for the Code Blue are as she has accurately outlined, with one caveat. My notes say that it is 'at least two of the following', but I do take her point that we are going through a period of extended cold. The South Australian Housing Authority has a service response in place to address the needs of those sleeping rough during extreme weather, and the decision to activate the Code Red or the Code Blue is made jointly between the authority and the chief executive of Uniting Communities.
We also had Code Red activation earlier this year in February when we had exceptionally warm weather. My understanding was that that was not just triggered in the CBD but also in the regions. So the Code Blues and Code Reds do provide additional services to people who are sleeping rough.
In terms of the rationale for the triggers, my understanding is that that was determined by the specialist homelessness service providers in conjunction with the Housing Authority. I think it has been reviewed, in either 2018 or 2017, so there may well have been a change to the Code Blue activation. I will double-check what that change was because it is something where we don't rely on our own advice but we certainly seek the advice of the direct service providers in homelessness.
I think it's fair to say that there are services that operate 24/7, regardless of whether there is a Code Blue or a Code Red activated. Indeed, certainly within the CBD, we have Neami, who operate an assertive outreach service. Members of the public can notify them of someone whom they come across who is sleeping rough via the Street Connect app.
There are other services that operate throughout South Australia to provide people with assistance. We have a Homelessness Gateway, which is available for people 24/7 as well. Regardless of whether a Code Blue or a Code Red is activated, we do have services. Some of those are quite assertive services to assist people throughout the year, regardless of any extreme weather events. I will take on notice the part in relation to when it was last reviewed and seek some further information that may be of use to the honourable member.