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HomeLatest NewsDee Why dune dwellings demolished

Dee Why dune dwellings demolished

A makeshift camp within the Dee Why dunes has today (31 August) been demolished for a second time. The move follows a unanimous vote of Northern Beaches Council last week that the camp posed an unacceptable risk to community safety.

Councillors voted to ask the new CEO, Scott Phillips to ‘take action’ on the matter, in partnership with police and local homelessness agencies, as required by the Northern Beaches Homeless Persons Protocol.

Those inhabitating the camp will again be offered temporary housing.

Manly Observer first raised the issue of the growing ‘tent city’ in September last year, but the camp was not removed until a violent fracas at one of the sites wherein a man set fire to a tent and was seen chasing another with a machete.

Police arrest one man over a violent fracas in October 2022. Credit: Luke Gavahan

The camp began to rebuild over summer and has been left to grow since then.

A similar event involving a man assaulting another with a sharp implement occurred earlier this month at the same location.

The dunes in late December 2022, already back after demolition in October.

While referred to as one camp, Manly Observer is aware of there being a few different sites across the dunes– one known for drug use, dealing and thefts, another with one or two tents where older less disruptive campers frequent, and further away a site more often used by teenagers as a social hang out site.

Local homelessness agencies, chiefly Mission Australia, have offered and, in some cases, successfully provided alternate housing for some inhabitants since it was first noted in 2020, but it is understood some of the longest term dune dwellers have refused offers to relocate.

It is also worth noting that accommodation is often short-term or temporary.  Homelessness is a complex issue, and when coupled with issues such as mental health or addiction even more so.

As such, Mayor Sue Heins said Council would “continue to take a balanced and compassionate approach to work with relevant agencies to support the individuals affected.”

“We have been working with relevant homeless support agencies for several years now to provide assistance to those living in the dunes at Dee Why, but this assistance has been declined.

The southern of two tent camps in the sand dunes between the beach and the lagoon on Dee Why seafront. Photo: Alec Smart

“Following recent incidents at the location involving people experiencing homelessness and the escalation of behaviours that create a safety risk to our community, Council has resolved to work with the NSW Police and homelessness support agencies to resolve the long-standing issue. This could include further offers of assistance for housing and/or removing material from the area,” Mayor Heins said.

Northern Beaches Mayor Sue Heins. Photo: Kim Smee

While primarily concerned with community safety due to the “serious, malicious wounding offences”, among other alleged incidents, Curl Curl ward councillor and Deputy Mayor David Walton, a retirement police commander,  said there was also significant environmental damage done to the dunes, which are meant to be protected.

While supporting the motion to act because of community safety concerns, Curl Curl ward councillor Cr Kristyn Glanville urged for compassion.

“I am not justifying criminal behaviour but I do think that some empathy for people who have reached this point in their life where they’re living in a camp, it is a reflection of the lack of support and care and connectivity.”

“I am not justifying criminal behaviour but I do think that some empathy for people who have reached this point in their life where they’re living in a camp, it is a reflection of the lack of support and care and connectivity.”

Cr Vincent De Luca said he hoped the CEO could also address similar concerns in the Narrabeen Lagoon area given a series of incidents involving attacks and verbal abuse, particularly on women, along the popular circuit.

Since the official decision at last week’s meeting was for the “Chief Executive Officer [to] work closely with the NSW Police and homelessness support agencies”, there is no specific plan or timeline for action in place. Services swooped in on the area early today, 31 August.

The primary agency responsible for connecting with those at the site will be Mission Australia, who have transitional accommodation service called Ebbs House in Brookvale.

Ebbs House supports resident with case management, practical support, and social connection to help them transition into sustainable housing – a particularly challenging area in Sydney.

Manly Observer visited this service last week and will have a story on it published early September.

This story is an updated version of the original, which was published on 23 August.

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Manly Observer is an experiment in providing non-sensationalist hyperlocal news on Sydney’s Northern Beaches. We cover the big news across the LGA, but with a hyper focus on the Manly electorate encompassing Balgowlah, Seaforth, Freshwater, Brookvale and Curl Curl up to Dee Why. It is run by those living in the community for the benefit of an informed community. We care about an informed and connected community. That’s it. Simple. Thank you for your support in keeping quality local news alive!

Kim Smee, Editor

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