Always on the move

Always on the move
Rhonda Dredge

Mick and his mates were having a good laugh down by the river last month at the outrageous claim made in the latest issue of sister publication Southbank News that beggars were earning $1000 a day on the streets.

Mick is a regular along Southbank Boulevard and can often be seen with his “homeless” sign and a scattering of worldly possessions.

So, when he read the article about the earnings of these so-called professionals, he was sceptical.

“Yeah. I live in a hotel room in the casino,” he said to the assembled crew. “Anyone want to take up an apprenticeship?”

Police are warning locals that gangs are operating in the area and are advising us not to salve our consciences by giving a few coins to the homeless.

Yet rough sleepers like Mick are stigmatised enough. Should the police be making their lives tougher?

Mick gave CBD News a short briefing on his daily movements to dispel the myths that he might be living in the lap of luxury.   

On a warm Saturday afternoon when the sun shines on the riverbank and merry diners stop for a chat, things aren’t that bad.

He can have a bit of fun, pretending to be rich, even offering the girls a bottle of Veuve Cliquot.

But on a rainy Tuesday morning when Mick is taking shelter outside the empty Exon Mobil office, he is thinking more about social workers than being sociable.

He said he’s been on the list for a house for 16 years and had spent the past two nights sleeping out the back near Freshwater Place.

He plans ahead for his week and usually heads out to the suburbs on the weekend because not everyone from the riverside bars is friendly.

He says that it is easy to distinguish those who are genuinely homeless because they have their possessions with them.

Sometimes Mick crosses the river and sleeps in the CBD, but he says the cops move him on.

He might look like he owns a prime position on Southbank Promenade, but he is always on the move.

“Mick sleeps all over town,” said one of his mates, whose dog Mick looked after for a while in July.

He said Mick had been visible in the municipality for about 12 months and made a point of clarifying the information about the housing list.

When Mick said he’d been on the list for 16 years that didn’t mean that he’d be moving into some nice room soon, but that he still had another 16 to go. •


Caption: Mick and his mates on Southbank Boulevard.

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