PERTH city council has cracked down on beggars in the Perth train station overpass, posting signs reminding them of a ban on sitting, standing or lying in the thoroughfare.
The overpass is where Salvation Army volunteer Shirley Mort collected $1.7 milllion for charity over the last 26 years, and according to the signs, nowadays she’d have been up for a fine.
As well as being a hotspot for shaking a collection tin, the footbridge was a favourite of homeless people begging for coins from commuters.
There were usually two or three sitting with cups in hand, but when the Voice went by this week they were all gone.
Conrad Liveris from homeless advocacy group Street Smugglers described the move as “disrespectful” and “ill-considered”.
He lived rough on the streets for a week so he could better understand the experience of homeless people.
“The City of Perth fundamentally does not understand the importance of access to public spaces,” he says.
“Targeting public spaces, especially those where homeless people go, isn’t just disrespectful, it is ill-considered.
“Forcing homeless people away from public visibility is the definition of NIMBYism and also precludes them from access to the services they need.
“Homeless people have become out of sight, out of mind and out of reach.
“These sorts of actions don’t just fail to solve issues of homelessness, but make them harder to solve … the City of Perth should not push them out of sight but work with services and individuals to limit the impact it may see.”
We asked Perth council media man Michael Holland what was behind the move but he continued his 17-month streak of not responding to Perth Voice media requests.
by DAVID BELL