Up to six homeless men living along Bargara foreshore
AUTHORITIES have joined forces to try to move on a group of homeless men who have been occupying Bargara barbecue shelters, sleeping in the turtle playground and drinking alcohol in public "like it's going out of fashion".
Bundaberg Police Acting Inspector Joe Hildred said reports had been received about two men living along the foreshore, but officers believed there were about six homeless occupying the area at varying times.
"Police have tried to encourage them to go to hostels and other men's shelters," he said.
"Staff have been, over the past few weeks, encouraging these men to seek accommodation and have even gone to the trouble of taking them to these hostels.
"We've received information that they don't want to abide by the rules of the shelter - some hostels are alcohol-free and impose curfews."
Acting Inspector Hildred said vagrancy had once been a punishable offence under Queensland law.
"There's no offence for that any more and we are limited in what police action we can take," he said.
"We don't permit sleeping in public places.
"We have been working with the council and, as recently as Wednesday, it was discussed in a meeting with Bargara police."
While the men might not be committing a legal offence, they were in breach of local council by-laws.
Bargara division representative Greg Barnes said while the council sympathised with their current situation, the act of vagrancy simply could not continue.
"It's bad enough when you go to use a barbecue and there's someone sleeping there," he said.
"They're putting all their belongings in plastic bags, leaving them in hedges.
"They are consuming alcohol like it's going out of fashion."
Cr Barnes said there had also been complaints of inappropriate behaviour, including urinating in public.
"At the end of the day, the overall welfare of these people must be the primary concern," he said.
Bargara Police Sergeant Matt Steinhardt said they were helping the men link in with support services.
"We're stepping up our patrols - day and night - to encourage them to seek some help," Sgt Steinhardt said.