Concerned Aussies have slammed a series of seats at a train station they say is designed to discourage those experiencing homelessness. In a photo shared online, three metal poles appear to have been installed in place of a bench at a heavily used platform.
"My poor bum recoils in horror at those, I can't imagine many people choosing to sit there," one commuter responded, while others suggested the seat had been intentionally created to be uncomfortable.
"They're designed so people who are living rough can't sleep on them," another Reddit user said. "It's called the 'we would rather hurt everyone than have homeless people have comfort if they choose to rest here' bench" or 'hostile architecture' for short."
Making things less comfortable
Hostile architecture is a term that's all too familiar to Mick Rowan, from Walk With Us — a Queensland charity supporting those experiencing homelessness. It refers to an urban design strategy that uses elements of the built environment to purposefully guide or restrict behaviour and targets those who use public space more than others, such as those sleeping rough or young people.
"There are things to make it less comfortable so people will just move on, they won't hang around too long. And we're seeing more and more of it," Rowan told Yahoo News Australia after observing the uncomfortable-looking seat at Victoria's Union Station.
"Up here on the Gold Coast, for instance, wherever there are places where people can get a little bit of shelter, the council is quite likely to block that off and block access. It is a fairly common practice, unfortunately."
Rowan said the flow-on effect is devastating, with people "ending up in trees or in bushes down the beach, especially in the poor weather", but even locals don't want to help much.
"People like the idea of helping those less fortunate and they don't mind kicking in some money, but they don't want them near their business or homes unfortunately," he explained. "It's like, 'you keep that problem away from my house', and it's not an uncommon thing to come up against."
Yahoo News has requested a comment from Public Transport Victoria about the seats.
The Wiggles caught up in 'disappointing' scheme
Just last week a council in Western Australia made global headlines after it was caught blasting a song by the Wiggles 24/7 to deter people experiencing homelessness from gathering at a bandstand.
The City of Bunbury had been playing Hot Potato on loop at the Graham Bricknell Music Shell outdoor stage south of Perth until the Aussie bandmates stepped in.
"The Wiggles' music is created to bring joy and happiness to children and families around the world," the group said in a statement to the ABC. "We are deeply disappointed to hear that it is being used in any other way."
Do you have a story tip? Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.