Thousands Show Support for Shower Bus After Parking Fine “Attack”
24 May 2016 at 11:09 am
Thousands of people have offered their support for the Not for Profit behind the world’s first mobile shower service for the homeless, after the bus was given a parking fine.
The shower bus, which provides a place for people with no access to a safe, clean bathroom, to enjoy shower facilities and hygiene products, was given a $91 fine on Friday and told to move on by Melbourne City Council officers.
The NFP posted photos of the parking fine on the One Voice Facebook page following the incident. The original post has since been shared nearly 6,000 times and and has received more than 1,400 comments with many people donating money towards paying the fine.
One Voice founder Josh Wilkins said it was “humbling” to receive so much public support.
“To see everyone out there supporting what we do is awesome,” Wilkins told Pro Bono Australia News.
“It’s reached 670,000 people out there who think Melbourne is not the most liveable city in the world now, it’s gone viral out there.
“Hopefully it can keep going that way so we can build more shower vans because they definitely need them out there.”
Wilkins said he was “baffled” by the fine for the bus, which has been operating around Melbourne since December and has never been issued a fine previously.
“I personally think the shower bus is just being attacked,” Wilkins said.
“There is no time limit on the sign, there’s nothing.
“That’s why I said to the council official… why now? we’ve been here for three months, he said: ‘Ah well, we’ve never noticed it before.’ And I said man it’s a big blue bus on the corner out the front of the town hall, don’t tell me you’ve never noticed it before. Everyone walks past this thing and takes photos. They know we’re there.
“They should be working with us support services to support people.
“I think one of their beefs is they think we are entrenching homelessness. We’re not… I believe what we’re doing is creating more impact than what is going on out there by building a relationship with these guys.”
Wilkins said his complaint was not about the fine but about the lack of support, and he is calling on the council to work with him to find a permanent location to park the bus.
“It’s not about the fine” Wilkins said.
“We’ll pay the fine. We’ve been donated it 10 times over – and we’ve offered if anyone wants a refund on those donations we are happy to do that and everybody has turned round and said no you keep the money and put it toward running the bus.
“[What we want is] to get a permanent location that we can park in the city… and for the council to work with us to have that location, so we don’t have to be interrupted.
“The Salvation Army 614 bus has a dedicated parking zone on Flinders Street, do the same thing for us. They can’t say it’s not needed.
“I contacted them back in January, I sent an email, and then on Thursday last week I sent another email saying come on, we need to meet and discuss this and talk about it, and then we were greeted with that on Friday. So if that’s the way [the council] wants to talk to me, bring it on.
“The step now is we are writing a letter to the council and the premier, which we will share on Facebook, just to try and get them to understand where we are coming from.”
In the meantime, Wilkins said he would not be put off by the fine.
“I will be parking back there on Tuesday again and Friday,” he said.
“They will have to tow me out of the city to get me out of the city.”
Pro Bono Australia News contacted City of Melbourne for comment.