'Get them out of Flinders Street': Melbourne’s homeless shame during Australian Open
Tempers have flared at a Flinders Street’s homeless camp in Melbourne, as rough sleepers lash-out with Australian Open tourists merely metres away witnessing the events unfold.
Authorities have admitted they’re powerless to act.
Tourists in town for the Australian Open have said it’s not a good look for the city.
One woman has been sleeping rough since she was just 15-years-old.
The campers insist they have nowhere else to go.
"Where do you want us to go... the gutter?" one rough-sleeper Anthony Thorpe told 7 News.
They concede drugs are rampant here on Flinders Street.
“Yeah I am worried about the drug use but it's the only thing that keeps us going man,” Thorpe told 7 News.
When tourist, Julie Scot, was asked if it was a poor reflection on Melbourne she replied, “Oh yes, I s’pose. I think more should be done to shift them off.”
"We see it in so many places across the globe and hopefully it'll get better as time goes on,” another tourist, Tom Nolan, from Boston told 7 News.
Another man, Jeff Dobson said, "Get them out of Flinders Street this is our showcase."
However police and the council say they can’t do anything.
"It's not an offence to be homeless. It's not a very good look what's down at Flinders Street, but it is not an offence to sit or sleep on the streets,” Superintendent David Clayton for the Victorian Police told 7 News.
"We don't have any move on powers and neither do the police so we can't physically do it,” Melbourne Lord Mayor Robert Doyle told 7 News.
Once again today, campers refused help from charity workers.
The Salvation Army's Brendan Nottle offered to temporarily house them in the Army's historic citadel.
"Because we don't see there's any other way of getting people off the streets right now,” Mr Nottle told 7 News.
However, some are demanding permanent housing.
"To move away from here, all these people have to have a house, every single person here," a rough sleeper named Orca told 7 News.
They say if they're eventually moved on by police and council workers, they will not go easily from Flinders Street.
Some have even threatened to embarrass the city internationally.
"We'll go where they play tennis. We'll sit down there and let them see the world,” another told 7 News.
News break - January 18