Darwin Mayoral candidate hits out at park and street dwellers

Most Aboriginals are quite relaxed about living in the open with minimal shelter -- so they tend to "camp" for extended periods on public land -- in parks, on beach foreshores, etc.

Since they also tend to be alcohol abusers, this is experienced as unpleasant by the rest of the community -- who avoid places where the Aborigines are camped

Mentioning any of that is very "incorrect", however. A dark skin makes you immune from criticism these days

LORD mayoral candidate Katrina Fong Lim has vowed to rid Darwin's streets of itinerants. One of her opponents - rubbish warrior Trevor Jenkins - is homeless.

In a press release entitled "Fong Lim targets itinerants", Ms Fong Lim said Darwin residents had the right to use the city's parks, beaches and shopping centres without having to be humbugged.

"We live in an affluent society and no one should be homeless - however some people, for whatever reason, cannot conform to standard suburban living," she said.

"I believe (the) council has a role in helping address the issue whether it is through better designed and maintained public areas, examining our place in delivering appropriate services and/or looking for innovative solutions such as a possible increase of night and day patrol services."

Ms Fong Lim was quickly criticised by incumbent Graeme Sawyer and community groups, who accused her of demonising the most vulnerable members of our society. Lord Mayor Graeme Sawyer said Ms Fong Lim was taking a cheap shot at Darwin's most vulnerable in a bid to score a political point. "Itinerants and homeless people are part of our community too," he said. "It's very cheap for someone to come out and say local government should come out and do something about this."

Mr Sawyer said the council already helped itinerants through its program Homeless Connect and was working with 56 organisations on the issue. It was also working with the Government to house homeless people, he said.

NT Shelter policy officer Morgan Sabbith said homeless people had every right to use the city's parks and beaches. "This is how they live and the rest of us don't like seeing it," she said. "A lot of people have nowhere to go. "There's not enough housing; Aboriginal people are actively discriminated against when they apply for housing."

Ms Sabbith said the best thing to help homeless people was to build shower and toilet facilities around the city, East Point, and near the hospital.


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