Homelessness in the Byron Shire

Homelessness is a complex issue with no single solution. It requires long-term collaboration across agencies, sectors and the community.

Working collaboratively we aim to:

  • support people sleeping rough 
  • work towards ending rough sleeping
  • apply a compassionate and proactive approach to the management of public spaces.

Our programs and initiatives

Byron Shire is the first area in NSW, outside Sydney, to pilot an internationally-renowned project aimed at drastically reducing and hopefully ending rough sleeping. It is called the Ending Rough Sleeping Byron Shire project.

It is a community-initiated collaboration that is supported by the state-wide organisation, the End Street Sleeping Collaboration.

This initiative is also part of the NSW Premier’s Priority Commitment to reduce rough sleeping by 50% by 2025 and end rough sleeping by 2030 – a target now shared by the Byron Shire.

Connections Week 2020

From 16 – 20 November 2020, 73 people sleeping rough participated in a survey across the Byron Shire. The information gathered in the survey assists us to understand the needs of people sleeping rough and coordinate support services.

Connections Week was conducted by our Community Development team in partnership with End Street Sleeping Collaboration and group of local community service providers and volunteers.

We want to make positive changes and prevent people ever having to sleep rough.

Who was surveyed?

  • 77% identified as male.
  • 18% identified as female.
  • 23% identified as Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander.
  • 44 was the average age.

Some key findings

  • 25% have been sleeping rough for 1 year or less.
  • 21% have been sleeping for rough for 10 years or more.
  • 57% of people had a high level of vulnerability.
  • 21 is the median age when an individual became homeless.


  • 77% have a physical health condition.
  • 38% have dental problems.
  • 21% have foot or skin infections.
  • 18% reported dehydration.

Self-reported causes of homelessness

  • 32% couldn’t find an affordable house.
  • 27% relationship breakdown.
  • 18% family conflict.
  • 18% loss of job or couldn’t find a job.
  • 15% domestic and family violence. 

When asked what people needed to be safe and well, housing was a key theme.

Download the Connections Week Byron Shire infographic(PDF, 352KB)

A full report on the results is available on End Street Sleeping Collaboration’s website

By-Name List

The data gathered during Connections Week was used to populate the By-Name List.  It stores privacy-protected information about each person who was sleeping rough at the time of the survey.  It is updated in real-time by service providers to more effectively coordinate care.

As well as helping individuals access the right housing, health care and other supports, the information collected will help the sector develop better policies and programs.

De-identified data will be used to advocate for change and resources to end homelessness in our community. 

Public spaces can be accessed and enjoyed by everyone including people who experience homelessness.

We encourage responsible behaviour by everyone in our public spaces. We want to make sure that people experiencing disadvantage are not discriminated against and are treated with compassion and respect.

Our Public Space Liaison Officers work with community, local businesses, service providers and people sleeping rough to manage the impacts of homelessness in public spaces. The team also work directly with people sleeping rough to ensure they have access to the support they need.

Council’s Fletcher Street Cottage, in the middle of Byron Bay, is set to be reopened as a service hub. The hub will help the increasing numbers of local people at risk of becoming homeless, as well as people already sleeping rough.

The hub is a collaboration between Council, the Byron Community Centre and Creative Capital, who are helping to fund the venture.

The Cottage will provide homelessness and related services with the option of a limited, well-managed drop-in centre. It will help people sleeping rough to easily access services, while ensuring that everybody feels safe.

The Cottage will help the services in our community that are working hard to respond to the increasing volume and complexities of issues for people sleeping rough.


Safe and affordable housing is a basic human right.

Affordable is defined in relation to income. A common benchmark is rent costing no more than 30% of a low or moderate household’s gross income.

In partnership with community groups and other levels of government, Council is working on a variety of initiatives to address the chronic shortage of affordable housing in the Byron Shire. 

Visit the Housing affordability initiatives  and Short-term rental accommodation web pages to learn more.

Wallet Card

We have published a Wallet Card that contains useful information for people seeking housing support.

Printed copies of the card are distributed among people sleeping rough and shared with local service providers.

COVID-19 Community Supports Brochure

We have published a brochure that contains useful information for people experiencing homelessness. Printed copies of the brochure are distributed to people sleeping rough and shared with local community services.

The brochure is updated regularly and contains information about where to find help and who to contact for assistance during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

If you would like a copy of the COVID-19 Community Support Brochure or our Wallet Card please email roughsleeping@byron.nsw.gov.au or call us on 02 6626 7000

Homelessness Interagency newsletter

The Interagency newsletter provides a forum for organisations to collaborate, exchange information and share success stories.  Newsletters are sent monthly.

If you would like to receive regular updates, please subscribe to the Homelessness Interagency newsletter.




Street Counts are conducted annually by the NSW Department of Communities and Justice to determine the number of people experiencing homelessness in towns and local government areas throughout NSW.

Gathering accurate data about the number of people experiencing homelessness is essential to deciding where to target resources and support.

In 2021, 198 people were counted - up from 174 in 2020.  

Visit the Communities & Justice website to download the technical paper.