Aussie council shuts down claims of 'anti-homeless campaign'

The council told Yahoo News recent wet weather was to blame for the loud noise coming from the speaker.

Brisbane City Council has shut down claims it has ignited an “anti-homeless campaign” as the state continues to grapple with a dire housing crisis.

A resident said they were walking down Roma Street in the heart of the city on Sunday night when they discovered a “speaker blasting obnoxious sounds to prevent people from sleeping” on benches in the area.

A video posted on Reddit shows what appears to be a CCTV camera with a speaker emitting loud static. While a few people said such a move would be “awful and anti-human”, others doubted the local authorities would take such action and suggested other reasons for the noise.

The post with a speaker and camera overlooking benches in Brisbane.
A Brisbane resident said they were walking in the city when they discovered a speaker blasting static to prevent people from sleeping rough. The council says a faulty speaker is to blame. Source: Reddit

“Are you sure that’s what the sound is for and not some glitch like water in the wiring from all the rain recently?” one person suggested. “It’s just that the sound doesn’t seem obnoxious or deliberately anti-social, my old stereo would make similar when it had bad wiring.”

Council says noise is 'a fault with the speaker'

Brisbane City Council confirmed to Yahoo News Australia on Monday the noise “was a fault with the speaker caused by wet weather”. “Technicians are currently addressing the issue,” a spokesperson said.

It’s not the first time the council has been accused of mistreating rough sleepers, with allegations it had been regularly throwing out their tents and belongings emerging in October. Paul Slater, who provides bedding for those in need through the Northwest Community Groups Incorporated, told The Courier Mail he has seen council workers binning tents he had passed out just days earlier.

In response council said it would place a notice on an abandoned tent 24 hours before it would be removed.

Homelessness services at 'snapping point'

Australia’s housing crisis has been well-documented, with services that help struggling Aussies admitting they are at “snapping point”.

Homelessness Australia reported late last year a 6.2 per cent increase in demand for already overwhelmed services from those impacted by the cost-of-living crisis and skyrocketing rental prices.

The number of people using homeless services in Queensland has risen from 41,587 in 2022 to 45,469 in 2023, prompting the state's government to promise another 500 social housing residences in the next two years. 

This follows the government’s record $3.9 billion investment in social and affordable housing to deliver 13,000 homes across the state. Service providers have previously warned that the state’s housing crisis could intensify even further, with nearly 300,000 Queenslanders experiencing housing insecurity.

The median rent for a house in Brisbane was $600 per week in January, according to recent statistics from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare.

The tents lining the Brisbane River during the rental crisis.
In December, at least 20 tents were filmed lining the Brisbane River, highlighting the reality of the city's rental crisis. Source: Reddit

Critical response team launched to help homeless

After disturbing footage in December of dozens of homeless people living in a “tent city” along the river in Brisbane, Queensland’s Department of Housing told Yahoo it had “activated a Critical Response Team dedicated to undertaking joint outreach visits across known hotspot locations across the state” in conjunction with other specialist homelessness services.

“This joint outreach includes engagement with rough sleepers at Musgrave Park, the Go-Between Bridge and the Kurilpa Park Precinct,” a spokesperson said.

“To date, we have assisted 315 people who had been sleeping rough into alternative accommodation from across Brisbane predominantly from the Musgrave Park, the Go-Between Bridge and the Kurilpa Park Precinct areas.

“We will continue to ensure that anyone who is sleeping rough at Kurilpa and wants housing assistance can be assisted into appropriate accommodation.”

with AAP and NCA NewsWire

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