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Sydney homeless protocol

May 18 2009
Sydney police abide by a protocol that protects the rights of homeless people during the recent Apec summit More than 100 homeless people living within the security zone of the Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation (Apec) summit in Sydney, Australia were allowed to remain undisturbed as police were ordered to abide by a protocol that protects the rights of homeless people. With security stepped up for the summit, especially during the Leader's Week of 2nd-9th September, a homeless group had raised concern that the resident homeless people would be barred from their usual sleeping areas. Before the September conference, in a move supported by homeless advocates, the estimated 3,500 police officers from New South Wales, plus those from interstate, were ordered to adhere to the Protocol for Homeless People (which was printed in the training handbook for Apec security procedure) and not to disturb homeless people or prevent them from entering 'declared areas'. The Protocol, introduced during the Sydney Olympics in 2000 and endorsed by 10 New South Wales government agencies, states that everyone has the right to be in public places and that homeless people should be left alone unless "they require assistance... appear to be distressed or in need of assistance... their behaviour threatens their safety or the safety and security of people around them... [or] their behaviour is likely to result in damage to property or the environment." This is not the first time that debate over treatment of homeless people has surrounded an Apec summit. Thailand faced angry criticism when it hosted the forum in 2003 and carried out a massive 'clean-up' operation, which included removing homeless people from the streets of the Bangkok where the summit was being held. We'll be looking at the use of protocols, and what happened to Sydney's homeless during the 2000 Olympics, with it is relevance to readers with the approach of 2012. Editor