Salvation Army pays tribute to 'Mousey'
Salvation Army leader Major Brendan Nottle remembers homeless man 'Mousey' who was found dead at Enterprize Park in Melbourne's CBD.PT1M20S http://www.canberratimes.com.au/action/externalEmbeddedPlayer?id=d-30eb4 620 349 January 7, 2014
Wayne "Mousey" Perry was living under a railway bridge next to the Yarra.
"You have to sleep with one eye open because you don't know who's going to bash you or stab you or rob you," he told The Age last Friday about street life.
Mousey, 42, died on Sunday morning. He was stabbed.
Wayne Perry 'Mousey' was stabbed in his bed here at Enterprize Park. Photo: Angela Wylie
It was 5.30am at his makeshift camp next to the Melbourne Aquarium when he was stabbed.
Tourists on sunny Sunday strolls along the north bank of the Yarra River looked on with passing interest as police rifled through the man's blood-stained bedding.
At the edge of the crime tape his three tear-stained friends – Paul, Mark and Rita – huddled together. They watched on as police combed the river for the knife. They found one.
Police investigate the scene. Photo: Luis Enrique Ascui
"He was a popular guy," Paul said. "Everyone who would come down here would stop and chat with him."
Paul, 39, said a skinny young man with a shaved head had come down to their camp in the early hours of the morning.
The man, dressed in a black hoodie and black leather jacket, had stabbed his friend in his bed after ranting about vampires and werewolves, Paul said.
Just three days before, Mousey had been photographed by The Age as part of a planned story on homelessness. He gave the photographer a box of chocolates and was proud of "taking in" other street people, by inviting them to stay under the bridge.
Most of his life was spent homeless. The concrete block at Enterprize Park was his last encampment.
''Living on the street is not easy but it's not hard either. Imagine camping out in the bush - survival skills out in the bush, survival skills out in the street. If you know how to camp, you could survive in the street. If I didn't look at it like that, I'd look at myself and say I'm homeless," he said.
"I have a million-dollar view and I don’t pay a cent. It’s not easy, but it’s not hard either. Imagine camping in the bush.’’
Having battled homelessness for 28 years, Mousey says life on the street can be hard and it can depressing.
‘‘It’s long and it’s cold. And you have to sleep with one eye open because you don’t know who’s going to bash you or stab you or rob you.
‘‘But at least I have somewhere I can sleep and lay my head at night.’’
Major Brendan Nottle of the Salvation Army has been left deeply saddened by Mousey's death, having known the man since he was 16 and a resident at a youth homelessness refuge that Major Nottle managed.
"He reappeared about eight or nine months ago and it was like being reunited with family," he said.
"We had been trying to get him off the streets but Mousey had said there were things that he had wanted to resolve."
In the 2013 financial year, the number of people unable to be helped by Victorian homelessness services jumped more than 30 per cent on the previous 12 months, to 29,930 - or 82 a day. Almost 7000 were turned away due to insufficient accommodation and staff, as a direct result of a shortage of government funding.
Major Nottle said he hoped Mousey's death would bring real reform, so places like the Enterprize homelessness camp would cease to exist.
"When you work with homeless people they're not nobodies. They actually become family to you," he said.
Mousey said he was 14 when he and his sister were abandoned by their mother, who ran off with a gangland figure, and left them in a flat in Mordialloc.
''Then when my sister moved out, I was left with nowhere to live. I broke back into the flat - the only place I knew - and the coppers came and arrested me.''
He was moved to a crisis centre in St Kilda, met shady characters, got involved in drug-dealing and later fled from escalating gang violence, moving between squatting and living on the street.
''The federal government doesn't care about us street people,'' said Mousey, who called for greater investment in housing and services for Melbourne's homeless people.
''Start looking after your own people - we're the ones that get left out.''
Homicide squad detectives are investigating the circumstances surrounding the death, but on Sunday evening no arrests had been made. An autopsy will be conducted to determine the cause of death.