Melbourne is continuing to struggle with a rising number of beggars on the streets of the CBD – despite the practise being illegal and attracting fines of more than $100.
Now it is believed a third of the city’s beggars are actually backpackers.
Melbourne Lord Mayor Robert Doyle, who has campaigned against begging and implemented anti-begging strategies in the city since 2013, says an increasing number of tourists are begging to boost their travel funds.
“Service providers tell me that international tourists make up around a third of the people begging on Melbourne’s streets at the moment,” Doyle told News Corp. “Tourists may not be aware that begging is illegal in Victoria and it’s important that we communicate with them and put them in contact with the services they need.”
They would then be put on a compulsory diversion program by the magistrate.
The month-long operation “resulted in 24 people being referred to the diversion program. Of those, 15 people accessed support through the Salvation Army which has helped to provide them with a pathway to a better life,” he wrote.
The program achieved a 45% success rate.
Now, with the latest string of travellers begging in Melbourne, the city has given the Salvation Army with $25,000 to set up another anti-begging strategy. The program, which runs until February 28, offers assistance to homeless people.
Clients of Youth Projects in Melbourne recently told The ABC that some beggars can collect between $40 and $200 a day.
This year’s StreetCount report, found that in 2014 142 people regularly slept on the streets in the city, up from 75 in 2009.
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