Code Blue Emergency Code

Published Thursday, July 6, 2017 | Share:

Mr BELL ( Mount Gambier ) ( 12:30 :52 ):I rise to support the motion by the member for Chaffey. He is a very good member for his electorate, which I will have the pleasure of spending some time in over the weekend, which I look forward to. Code Blue has already been activated a number of times this winter throughout South Australia, including in the regional areas of the Riverland, Port Lincoln, Port Pirie, Whyalla, Port Augusta, Ceduna, Coober Pedy and, of course, Mount Gambier, where in fact it has been activated twice. If you have ever spent much time down in Mount Gambier, which I know you have, Deputy Speaker, it is surprising that it has only been activated twice.

Code Blue commenced in metropolitan Adelaide as a result of wild weather during September 2016. It was positively received by community members and has now been extended throughout the regional areas. At night, when we are in our warm homes in front of a roaring fire down in the South-East or when the heater is on—if you can afford the energy bills—over 5,000 people in South Australia are experiencing homelessness. Unfortunately, one in seven people who is facing homelessness will sleep rough. Homelessness is not a choice; it can happen to anyone. I quote Hutt St Centre's definition of homelessness:

…that state in which people have no access to safe and secure shelter of a standard that does not damage their health, threaten their personal safety or further marginalise them through failing to provide either cooking facilities , or facilities that permit adequate personal hygiene.

There are a number of reasons why people find themselves homeless. It can be a result of domestic violence, family breakdowns, financial difficulties or suffering from mental health issues.

The state government activates Code Blue, ensuring that there is shelter and food available for rough sleepers during expected extreme weather. Extreme weather conditions can include very cold temperatures, rain and high winds. In Mount Gambier, and the South Australian Housing Trust work together collaboratively when a Code Blue is activated to provide additional accommodation during these extreme weather events. In Mount Gambier alone, during June the overnight temperatures have fallen to 5° and below on 13 occasions, with one night reaching minus 2°. Together with rain and howling winds, this can make for very unpleasant and sometimes life-threatening conditions.

Mount Gambier consistently has colder weather than the rest of the state, which I can definitely attest to. During our cold conditions, Mount Gambier has a number of rough sleepers. Should anyone find themselves seeking shelter in Mount Gambier, they need to present to Housing   SA, or contact the South Australian Homelessness Gateway number on 1800 003 308. The other day, when I was volunteering at our Sunset Community Kitchen, a facility that provides warm meals to people in the Mount Gambier region on Monday and Wednesday nights, I was talking to a number of the people who came in, some with young children, who had nowhere to sleep that night.It was mentioned to me that it was a Code Blue night, so they had accommodation for that evening. The Sunset Community Kitchen provides wholesome meals to the disadvantaged in Mount Gambier and has been doing so for eight years.

On the particular night that I worked—and I have done a number of nights now—we served over 70 meals. The volunteers for the night where there was a Code Blue were Maxine Marney, Jacqui Michalski, Cathy Toss and Carolyn Gazzard. Pauline Kenny, who has been awarded the Mount Gambier city council Australia Day Citizen of the Year Award, was and still remains a driving force behind the Sunset Community Kitchen. I commend the actions of the state government with Code Blue and creating statewide awareness of the issues of people sleeping rough. With that, I commend the motion to the house.