The challenge of homelessness and begging in Fremantle

This last week was Homeless Persons Week and there has been a renewed focus on the issues of homelessness and begging in Fremantle by the WA  media. It is a tough and complex issue and I thought the ABC’s 7.30WA  did a particularly good job of dealing with this in a balanced and compassionate way.

The 7.30 WA  from August 10th 2012 can be found at:

This is not an issue where I feel like the Freo Council has all the answers or even all the powers to implement if we did.

It is clear to me however that a stronger and more effective response that starts to tackle the underlying issues of homelessness, mental health and addiction in needed. In boom state WA it is not good enough that so many people are doing it so tough and falling through the cracks and finding themselves on the streets of Freo. It is not good for Freo and not good for them either.

I’d welcome your thoughts on this tough issue.

About Mayor of Fremantle Brad Pettitt's blog
City of Fremantle Mayor

11 Responses to The challenge of homelessness and begging in Fremantle

  1. janinemarshall says:

    You know, I was only talking about this issue last night with friends. What brought the topic up was all the left over food after dinner, then the conversation led to how many food outlets actually throw away food at the end of the day or bag it up and give it to people who need it.
    This is a topic that I feel strongly about, it breaks my heart to see people living like this.
    You are certainly right in saying that ignoring it just wont work – the amount of people I have seen who avoid walking past them just so they wont get asked for money, is a lot. That seems to be how the world is these days, avoidance and denial but thats a whole other topic.

    I think that what the gentleman said to you Brad about the fact that if there was going to be a ban on begging, that indeed more crime would be seen as people become desperate. More tolerance and understanding is certainly needed, but also a need for more services, accommodation and the availability of food.

    No one person is better than any other, from the homeless, right up to the Queen of England, we all came into this world the same way, but life takes us on certain paths, some of us are lucky and some are not. It is rare that a person would become homeless for just one reason, however, poverty is common among nearly everyone who experiences homelessness, falling below the poverty line makes a household vulnerable to becoming homeless. Mental health is also a serious issue that is seen more than ever. Whether it be through certain life experiences, substance abuse, whatever the case maybe, we just simply cannot ignore people in need.

    I think the answer is that more services need to become available, more volunteering, food vouchers, instead of giving cash, give to the organisations who use the money directly for the homeless. Theres also respect, one of the best ways to help a homeless person is to show them respect. As you look into their eyes, talk to them with genuine interest, and recognize their value as an individual, you will give them a sense of dignity that they rarely experience.

    You do a great job Brad and I’m sure whatever you and others decide, it will only be in the best interest of the homeless and the community.

  2. Paula Amaral says:

    Hi Brad
    I have noticed that the number of people begging has also increased in Perth city centre, not just in Fremantle. If people are desperate and need to beg they have to do it in crowded areas, certainly not in the suburbs. I agree with the young man in the story, begging is preferable to crime. But it would be even better if people didn’t need to beg.
    There are wonderful examples in the world ( the Sikhs of India come to mind) of communities that run food kitchens just through volunteering.
    Perhaps the Over 55s Shop with the help of the City could come up with such a project. The City has a big kitchen downstairs that I noticed during the last Oxfam dinner that could be used.The Markets, the local cafes, restaurants and supermarkets could donate their surplus food.
    I would certainly volunteer 1/2 a day of the week to work in the kitchen preparing food washing dishes etc.
    I don’t think we can stop poverty, but at least we can alleviate it. I don’t agree with a ban on begging, it is impractical and unrealistic and doesn’t do anything to address the real problem.
    I hope lots more people read this blog and come up with wonderful, doable ideas.

  3. Brett Montgomery says:

    I am in Freo often and haven’t noticed a great amount of begging. I am uncomfortable with the idea of a ban on begging — to use a disease analogy, this would treating the symptoms, not the cause.

    I have a strong preference for prevention. Let’s work towards a fairer and more equal society as a way of reducing the amount of begging on our streets. Not easy, I know, and I agree that Freo council does not have the power to reshape all of the various social forces leading to poverty. It’s a challenge for all of society.

  4. Lisa says:

    Does anyone know the description of Randall Lee Duncan the homeless guy that was brutally murdered? Is he the homeless man that wears orange all the time or is he the young boy that confronted Brad Pettit on Television in regards to the homeless turning to bag snatching if they are not allowed to beg for money on the street?

    RIP Randall Lee Duncan

    • Shawn Thomas says:

      Yes I know Randall. He was a nice young bloke. Wouldn’t hurt a fly.
      Kept to himself very quiet and considerate of others. He had all the traits of a really nice bloke and he was a dad. He stayed at St Pats for a while thats where I met him. He had a bad left leg,foot turned inwards and was unable to run or even walk fast.He was only a small bloke in stature but a big bloke from the heart.He is not the orange bloke.
      Shawn Thomas. c/O St Pats Freo.

      • Shawn, Randall is my brother, I came past this piece looking up the news today as the trial has started. Your words say just what i would if asked the same. He was and is much loved and is missed by his family and friends. It is meaningful to me to come by this today. I guess I am trying to say thank you for sharing your kindness.

      • Mel Amalfi says:

        HI Shawn, could you please call me when you can. My name is Mel 0468608503

  5. Mathew says:

    Where would I start if I am looking for some one who is on the streets of Fremantle, really trying to find a good friend who has hit a rough patch in his life, would like to find him!!…….please help me!

  6. matty says:

    Who is the homeless guy who always wears orange in Fremantle. He looks relaxed on the bench and has a hair cut now and then. Would like to know his story..

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