Homeless say it is safer to sleep rough in Osborne Park than CBD

Homeless person Todd believes it’s safer to sleep rough in Osborne Park than in the Perth CBD. Picture: Kate Leaver
Homeless person Todd believes it’s safer to sleep rough in Osborne Park than in the Perth CBD. Picture: Kate Leaver

WITH homeless shelters in Perth city at capacity, sleeping rough in Osborne Park is the only option for Todd.

The 32-year-old said sleeping in Osborne Park reserves was a safer option than sleeping in the CBD.

“It’s been so long since I’ve slept in a bed,” he said.

“Put it this way, if they didn’t build Elizabeth Quay, we could have built a shelter for all of us. All they could do is build a little spot, where we can have a hot shower, a good feed and have a counsellor or someone to talk to,” he said.

Some locals have opened their homes so Todd can have a hot shower and a place to store his few possessions.

Rob Bannon, of Osborne Park, said he befriended Todd after meeting him on his evening bike rides.

“As I’ve got to know him I’ve started taking him home and he can have a shower there. I’ve let him use my washing machine, cooked him a meal and he’s very grateful for that,” he said.

“There should be some kind of centre here for these people because they’re not criminals or bad people, they’ve just lost their way. I’ve told Todd he can come here any time but he’s the kind of person that feels like he would be intruding.”

Mr Bannon said he had seen an increase in the number of homeless people in suburban parks and public areas.

“They’re not in the city because it’s too dangerous, they’d rather come a bit further out,” he said.

“I could not believe how many homeless people there were sleeping around the place in Osborne Park. They’re not doing anything wrong, they’re not spray painting the walls or breaking the windows.

“The council is ringing the police to move them on. That’s the biggest council in WA that they’re being told to move along by.

“They’re not doing anything to help, they are just moving them along, trying to move them to another suburb.”

After his mother passed away seven years ago, Todd said he became extremely depressed and had been homeless for six-and-a half years.

“I used to live in Lawley Street when we first came here when I was 14, now I’m about to turn 33,” he said.

“I still feel like a child, I feel so weak when people stare at me like I’m a terrorist.

“They look at me like they are disgusted in me and I’ve done nothing wrong.

“To have that rammed on me hurts. It really hurts, it sticks with me.”

Balcatta resident Carlo Meleca told the Stirling Times he left a bag of food and clothes for Todd when he heard about his stolen possessions.

Two weeks ago, Todd’s clothes, Bible and few possessions were stolen while he slept, including the only photograph he had of him and his mother.

Mr Bannon said Todd was distraught about the stolen items.

“When I saw him he was crying and in a really bad place mentally,” he said.

“Todd’s mother died seven years ago, he’s been on the street for six-and-half years, he’s still grieving.

“If someone gives him a jacket or food he’ll thank his mother like it happened to him yesterday, he’s not over it.

“Every time something good happens to him he looks in the air and thanks his mother.”