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Homeless advocate: media reports 'inaccurate, inflammatory'


Liam Ducey

An advocate for the homeless has lashed out at media reports of homeless people using intimidatory tactics when begging for money in Perth carparks.

The report, in Saturday's The West Australian, detailed emails between the City of Perth and staff at Wilson Parking in the CBD, where staff said they were subjected to intimidation from homeless people and did not feel safe.

The report also depicted a homeless woman abusing people who refused to hand over money.

Conrad Liveris is the co-founder of Street Smugglers, a group committed to raising awareness about homelessness.

Earlier this year, Mr Liveris spent a week sleeping rough on Perth streets to highlight the plight of the homeless, and on Sunday he described the reports as "inaccurate and inflammatory".

He said that while begging was on in rise in the CBD, his experiences had taught him the homeless were generally "exceptionally nice".

"I don't think that report was seems to be based on adecdotal evidence," he said.

"I have never seen a homeless person being particularly violent or aggressive.

"If you spend any time in the city you know that, yes, begging is on the rise but turning all these people into pseudo-criminals isn't going to solve that problem.

"This is a completely inflammatory piece which doesn't have any real basis."

He added that the City of Perth needed to take real action to solve the problems, which be believes are isolated incidents.

"We can all be a bit assertive at times and we're dealing with people that are dealing with lack of sleep, mental health issues and not having access to services," he said.

"If the City of Perth really wants to start supporting and reducing homelessness, they need to recognise that the services are there, like the Salvos and St Vincents, and that they do talk to each other."

Department of Child Protection and Family Support acting director general Emma White said homelessness was not just a housing issue, adding that support and understanding were important.

"The issue of homelessness is complex," she said.

"Many people who experience homelessness have a range of co-occurring problems and have experienced great adversity.

"They need support, understanding and services that can positively impact on their life circumstances.

"The department funds 81 homelessness services, many of which offer direct outreach to people living on the streets.

"Coordination and collaboration are important features to effective and meaningful intervention."

HuffPost Australia

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