Quickhit: “Plan to strip blankets from Alice homeless”

At the ABC:

Proposed Alice Springs by-laws would allow rangers to take homeless people’s blankets away from them, an Alice Springs alderman says.

The council last night voted unanimously to put a raft of controversial by-laws out for public consultation.

The proposed changes include $130 fines for beggars and a crackdown on camping in the dry Todd River bed.

Many Indigenous people live rough in Alice Springs, where the temperature often drops down to about zero degrees Celsius on winter nights.

They often stash their blankets somewhere during the day.

Alderman Jane Clark says rangers can currently remove the blankets but the new by-laws would let rangers throw them away, rather than return them to an Indigenous organisation.

More at the link. Steel yourself first if you’re thinking of reading the comments; they’re horrifying.

Via Ariane’s Little World.

Categories: indigenous, social justice

Tags: ,

13 replies

  1. Unbelievable fucking scumbags. That’s before I get to the racism aspect, I’m stuck on the homelessness issue for now.

  2. Taking blankets away will give them pneumonia, no doubt about it. A lot of those sleeping rough get pneumonia anyway, even with what blankets they have (and maybe a camp fire). It is pretty simply inhumane to take blankets away knowing the consequences.
    At least when they get pneumonia, they will go to the hospital, who will give them blankets. And the ‘a reasonable person would think they were abandoned’ is a convenient lie — the blankets are mostly left in regular camps.
    The fines for begging will take money from families. And likely not stop begging all that much. If they want to stop begging, they could start with getting people off the streets and adequate social services (which admittedly, needs more resources than just Alice Springs council can provide).
    And yes, the comments are appalling.

  3. Against your advice I read the comments section of the article you linked to. Amazing how people will stand on their head to declare something not racist after a policy has been created that specifically effects POC. I will admit that class is certainly a factor but so is the fact that those effect are Aboriginals. This is by far one of the most heartless policies I have come across in a long time.

  4. There were even comments that acknowledged it as racist, and yet defended it anyway.

  5. @SunlessNick,
    Oh yes, because the homeless people are visually unappealing and bad for tourism, so racism is just incidental. [/sarcasm]

  6. I can’t believe that they would do this, and I’ve lived there. A couple of things – unfortunately most of these people won’t end up in hospital even if they are desperately ill, because they don’t want to die in a hospital away from their country which is perfectly understandable. Hospitals can be horrible places. People generally sleep in the river because they have been kicked out of one of the camps. They have nowhere else to go (in Alice) and often no way to get home. The Alice Springs Council and Tangentyere Council (who have responsibility for town camps) need to work together to get these people home or accessing medical treatment if that’s what they came to town for, or housed at the very least. Taking their blankets is just going to kill them off, and that is inhuman.

  7. You can email the councillors.
    Let them know just how appalling what they’re proposing really is.

  8. Mindy: It’s not just that. A lot of hospitals in that region actually had policies of refusing to treat Indigenous people either at all or in any area that wasn’t the morgue within the lifetimes of some Aboriginal Elders. That kind of treatment is hard to overcome.
    As for the whole thing… well. There’s a lovely parallel to those of our Indigenous people who were in the past killed by the delivery of diseased blankets.

  9. So, basically they want to legally be able to kill homeless people? This makes me cry. I’m going to email the councillors now.
    @Hexy: A lot of hospitals in that region actually had policies of refusing to treat Indigenous people either at all or in any area that wasn’t the morgue within the lifetimes of some Aboriginal Elders.
    Not surprising, but completely sickening and horrifying.

  10. Just sent this email:
    This email is an official response to the proposed Public Places By-Laws in Alice Springs.
    As a concerned citizen, I must express both my concern and my disbelief that you voted in favour of by-laws to fine people for begging. You must be aware that these laws are punishing the most desperate and in need of help in our community.
    I was also horrified to learn that you voted in favour of a by-law allowing Rangers to forcibly remove blankets from homeless people and throw them away. This is an incredibly barbaric practice. You are allowing enforcers to target those in desperate need of help and dealing them a death sentence.
    Please review this decision. It is harmful and completely unjust.
    Sincerely yours,
    K****** H******

  11. Pharaoh-katt: At the Indigenous film festival last year, there was a heart breaking piece where a Noongar elder talked about the impact this hospital policy had had on he and his wife, when they (as highly respected members of the Indigenous community) had to welcome their sons’ births in the morgue. The man was crying as he described it, what must have been at least fifty years later.
    It’s not the first story I’ve heard about lifelong impact from hospital treatment of Indigenous people “back in the day”.

  12. Hexy: 😥
    God, the treatment of Indigenous people in this country is worse than sickening.

  13. By the way, begging is an offence in Victoria, too.
    It’s about time that was fixed, too.

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