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Bank of Melbourne Slammed for Calling Homeless “Inconsiderate”


25 July 2016 at 5:29 pm
Wendy Williams
A sign posted outside a Bank of Melbourne branch has caused outrage after branding a homeless person as “inconsiderate” for sleeping in the foyer.


Wendy Williams | 25 July 2016 at 5:29 pm


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Bank of Melbourne Slammed for Calling Homeless “Inconsiderate”
25 July 2016 at 5:29 pm

A sign posted outside a Bank of Melbourne branch has caused outrage after branding a homeless person as “inconsiderate” for sleeping in the foyer.

Homeless man in doorway

The Footscray branch put a notice on the door informing customers it had to close the foyer with the ATMs.

The sign read: “Due to an inconsiderate person using the foyer as a place to live and litter, we are having to close this part of the branch until further notice.”

A photo of the sign was posted on Facebook by Gemma Carafella sparking backlash against the bank on social media.

 

In her post Carafella said the bank was “out of touch” and she highlighted the irony of the bank being a sponsor of the Melbourne City Mission’s Sleep at the G event.

“You refer to an ‘inconsiderate’ person who has been so selfish as to be homeless. WOW,” she said.

“I don’t know if the fat cat bankers at the Big 4 (let’s face it, you’re a rebranded portion of Westpac) are aware of the realities of homelessness, but let me give you a few stats:

– More than 20,000 Victorians are currently experiencing homelessness;

– 33 per cent of those people are homeless because of family violence;

– Mental and physical health issues are intricately linked to homelessness; and

– It almost seems too simple to have to explain, but sleeping rough is dangerous.

“To think that the biggest victim in the scenario described in the sign is the bank demonstrates a fairly startling disconnect between your bank and the struggles of people who are experiencing disadvantage. You are out of touch.”

Bank of Melbourne has since replied to the comment, thanking Caravella for letting them know and apologising for any offence.

“We apologise for any offence taken as this was certainly not our intention,” the reply read.

“We will be addressing this directly with the branch manager, and will have this removed as soon as possible.”

However Caravella was unsatisfied with the response.

“Taking down the sign won’t address the horrible attitudes behind it. What are you doing about those?” she said.

The original post has since been shared nearly 4,000 times and attracted more than 300 comments.

In a reply to the post Matthew McKenzie said it was a “matter of life or death”.

“To those who are defending the bank; have you even noticed how cold it’s been getting the last few weeks in Melbourne? Could you imagine sleeping rough in a park or under a bridge by the Maribyrnong these cold nights? If you had the capacity to put yourself in another’s shoes, you’d realise that to the customers / business it is purely an inconvenience, but to the homeless it is quite literally a matter of life and death,” McKenzie said.

Some Bank of Melbourne customers have threatened to take their business elsewhere.

Rachael Winter said:  “Absolutely disgusting Bank of Melbourne. I’ll be changing all of my business accounts as of tomorrow.”

However, other people were quick to defend the bank.

Aaron Dato said: “Ok, so the banks sign wasn’t PC enough for you, but would you like to see all banks, shops, businesses opening their foyers for homeless people to live in? If this bank is indeed sponsoring an event for Melbourne City Mission then this is a much better way to show their support.”


Wendy Williams  |  Editor  |  @WendyAnWilliams

Wendy Williams is a journalist specialising in the not-for-profit sector and broader social economy. She has been the editor of Pro Bono News since 2018.

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