'Where are we supposed to go?' Homeless told to move on

"WHERE are we suppose to go?"

Despite living on the streets and having his bed stolen earlier this year, James, one of the homeless men residing near the Wide Bay Volunteers building on Woongarra St, has been thrown yet another curve-ball.

James said he was approached by a Bundaberg Regional Council office employee at 5.30/6am yesterday who told him police wanted them to move away from where they were set up.

"It's really weird," James said.

"We are still unsure as to what the problem is as we have talked to a few of the council workers that we know - as we talk to them most days - and they are very surprised and don't understand why we were told to move.

"We have never had any complaints, we are always tidy and polite but the council employee that told us to go told us that the police told the council that we can't be there; which doesn't make sense. I have talked to the police about 10 times in the last month reporting crimes to them and not once have they even hinted we had to move."

He said he has been staying under the stairs at the Wide Bay Volunteers building for a few months with another two people.

James said he was half asleep when the worker approached him, but he could see the uniform and that the employee had a council four-wheel drive.

"We are very approachable," he said.

"If someone has a problem with us, come and talk to us so we understand.

"We have been talking to the people that could have problems with us that work for the council, like the cleaners and they don't have a problem with us staying there.

"And as a few council employees have said, why would the police call the council and tell them to make us move when council policy is if there is any problems call the police?"

A spokesman for the council said council is always respectful in its dealings with homeless people.

"Council responds to community concerns regarding homeless people and the locations they choose to stay," he said.

"Our advice to the men is to seek assistance for appropriate accommodation through Centrelink.

"Fines apply to anyone camping, sleeping, occupying or remaining overnight in any area under Council control or in a park or reserve without approval. Council never will instigate fines against genuine homeless people. Where we can identify that someone is occupying a public area as a result of homelessness beyond their control, we work with the relevant departments to find the best outcome for everyone involved."

He said the Bundaberg region has a homelessness committee of which Council is a member along with other relevant agencies such as police, local social services organisations and the Department of Housing to find solutions to this concern.

James said with no idea where else to go, he would stay under the stairs over the weekend.

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