Criminalising homelessness in Melbourne

Victoria Police and the Herald Sun have demanded changes in city by-laws, which would further reduce the rights of homeless people. On Tuesday night, they got them.

Melbourne City councillors voted to allow police to confiscate, sell or destroy unattended property. Camping is already illegal in the city, but its definition has been broadened to encompass any rough sleeper. The message is clear – homeless people will be driven off the streets of this city.

During the debate, homeless people and their advocates requested alternative options. They have no home, where are they supposed to store their few possessions? People suggested lockers or a sort of baggage check drop-in centre – solutions that would not strip the homeless of their dignity and belongings.

Kate Colvin from the Council to Homeless Persons said it would criminalise people who had nothing but “a bit of cardboard or a blanket”. She’s right. But that’s the whole point of the right wing campaign to clean up the streets.