NOT HAPPY: You Have a Friend founder John Lee is concerned for the welfare of homeless people on both side of the border.
NOT HAPPY: You Have a Friend founder John Lee is concerned for the welfare of homeless people on both side of the border. Scott Davis

Coolangatta homeless being 'moved on' by police

A HOMELESSNESS activist in the Tweed says that rough sleepers in Coolangatta, including a pregnant woman, are being told by police to leave the area despite having nowhere to go.

You Have A Friend founder John Lee said it was mandatory for police to have a reason for rough sleepers to move on, take down their details and tell them why.

But Mr Lee said it appeared these laws were not being adhered to and believed the rough sleepers had been de-humanised.

"I've told these people to stop drinking and make sure their area is clean and they walked around picking up rubbish to do that, they know to keep it tidy and I really feel sorry for them,” he said.

"They're all aged between 40-70 and that includes a pregnant woman.

"They had told me the police are telling them to move on but not telling them why and that's against the move-on powers in Queensland. They have to tell them.

"The police shine torches in their eyes while they're asleep and tell them to leave. ”.

But Coolangatta Police Senior Sergeant Meg McArthur said homeless people were not moved on unless there was "a particular reason”.

"If they've committed an offence, we have that option but it depends on the situation at the time,” she said.

"If they're not committing any offences, they're okay to be wherever they want to be, but where offences are committed, they may be asked to leave.”

Mr Lee said police and council officers were not the only issues rough sleepers had to deal with, with drunk partygoers also posing a problem.

"Whilst they are asleep, drunks will come up and kick them. The guys are locked in their sleeping bag and can't defend themselves,” Mr Lee said.

"It's really sad and they just cop it. They just drop it because they know that's their life.”

According to the Caxton Legal Centre, police in Queensland can give a "move on” order if a person is "reasonably suspected to be causing anxiety”, "interfering with trade or disrupting the peace”, "is reasonably suspected to be disorderly, indecent, offensive or threatening” or "raises the suspicion that the person is soliciting for prostitution”.

Police must also record when the direction was given, the location of the person, the person's name and the reason for the move-on order.



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