Non-local charities banned from Bunbury CBD in ‘charity mugger’ crackdown

Kate FieldingSouth Western Times
Non-local charities have been banned from Bunbury streets.
Camera IconNon-local charities have been banned from Bunbury streets. Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Out-of-town charities have been banned from Bunbury’s streets in an effort to drive out pushy and overbearing charity workers.

Charity organisations and foundations that are not based in the Bunbury-Geographe area will have to obtain special permission to fundraise on CBD streets after increasing complaints of collectors hassling shoppers and deterring them from stores.

The South Western Times last week revealed that complaints made by CBD workers and store owners to Bunbury City Council included foul language, intimidating behaviour and one woman claiming she was even “cat-called”.

The behaviour of these fundraisers across the country in recent years has seen the term ‘chuggers’, short for ‘charity muggers’, enter common use

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The council hopes to stay on top of the issue through a new CBD Street Activity policy, which it endorsed this week.

While the council was initially recommended to ban non-local charities altogether, an 11th hour plea from Bunbury-based Amnesty International co-ordinator Phil Smith helped persuade councillors to allow local branches to continue their work.

“If implemented this policy will mean almost no charity will be able to collect, which I think is a mean and rather unsympathetic attitude,” Mr Smith said.

“We prefer the council to act against aggressive collectors rather than penalise those of us who do the right thing.”

VideoYou can stop ignoring Bunbury - it's time to pay the city a visit because there is plenty to see and do and it doesn't have to cost a fortune.

Under the policy, local charity groups and buskers will no longer have to obtain a permit from the council but will instead have to follow a number of guidelines including checking in with surrounding businesses to get approval to street appeal or perform.

Deputy mayor Jaysen Miguel said the policy actually made it easier for charity groups and would free up time for rangers and staff to monitor CBD streets.

“What we’re trying to do is make the whole process a lot easier, not just obviously for the street appeals, but for buskers and entertainers,” Cr Miguel said.

“They no longer have to go through and apply for a permit, anyone who follows those guidelines and gets approvals from the adjacent building can obviously go out there and perform or appeal on the street.

“The guidelines still remain that if the owners around the place aren’t happy with them, then they can of course ask for them to move and they won’t be able to do it.

“I look forward to hopefully everyone doing the right thing and doing what they’re meant to do and ticking all the boxes before they start performing or street appealing.”

The policy will be trialled for 12 months and Cr Miguel said he expected some adjustments along the way.

He said the main reason behind the policy, which also related to information distribution, was to add vibrancy to the CBD.

“It’s free and obviously the city’s covering the public liability so it makes it a lot more accessible, especially for younger people to get out there and showcase their skills and talent,” he said.

“Of course that’s going to add to vibrancy and that’s what we want to see in the CBD.”

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