THE violent mugging of a homeless woman on the Esplanade is the latest in a string of attacks on the region's most vulnerable.

Police have confirmed the woman's wallet and phone were snatched while she was sleeping rough at a Scarness park at the weekend.

We Care 2 charity worker Jan Carlson, who deals daily with displaced families, told the Chronicle the attack was symptomatic of a growing problem.

In the past three months her team has helped five homeless people who had been bashed or robbed.

One woman even had her false teeth stolen from her bag along with other personal belongings.

Ms Carlson said a lack of 24-hour accommodation centres and security were part of the problem.

"In some cases they've lost everything, in other cases they've just been left with their phone and no shoes," Ms Carlson said.

"You really feel for these people... some who aren't in the situation for any fault of their own."

John from We Care 2 cooks up a feed for the homeless.
John from We Care 2 cooks up a feed for the homeless.

It comes after Shadow Minister for Women Ros Bates said at a press conference in Hervey Bay this week that a shortage of crisis accommodation for domestic violence victims was making it harder for them to leave.

Hervey Bay MP Ted Sorensen said often, people didn't know what help was on offer.

"I've seen those problems in my own office where they (domestic violence victims) want to leave... are naïve about how to leave, because they really don't know how to leave," Mr Sorensen said.

"A lot of people don't give them the help... they don't know where to get the help from... that's some of the major problems out there."

Hervey Bay Police Sergeant Paul Byrne was also concerned there were no 24-hour facilities available for homeless people.

"We have a duty of care for everyone but we're limited to what we can do," Sgt Byrne said.

"At the end of the day we're a crime fighting organisation, not a social service organisation.

"We can't send intoxicated people to the watch house when they haven't done anything wrong."

Police Liaison Officer Goomblar Shillingsworth would like to see a safe house similar to those in bigger cities like Brisbane.

He is currently putting together a proposal for government funding.

"It would allow police to take them (homeless people) to a safe house where they can then be referred onto organisations," Mr Shillingsworth said.

"It's not new, it's the same model as safe houses in other cities."

In the mean time, the team at We Care 2 continues to do what they can for the homeless including providing meals, free breakfasts on the beach and swags to sleep in.

They are also helping the Fraser Coast police committee with its proposal.


We Care 2

Breakfast for the homeless near the Seafront Oval on Monday, Wednesday and Friday.

Emergency relief is offered to those in need on Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday (225 Main Street).

Hervey Bay Neighbourhood Centre

Tuesday and Wednesday 10am-noon - free hot showers and emergency relief

Comfort Kitchen - Wednesday night meal from 6pm

St Vincent De Paul and Salvation Army also provide emergency assistance.

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