Posted on January 18, 2011

Darwin’s ‘Dirty Secret’ Washed From Streets

Sarah Crawford, NT News (Darwin, Northern Territory), January 17, 2011

A SHOPPING centre manager has lifted the lid on “Darwin’s dirty secret,” saying a large amount of human faeces is washed on to the city streets every day.

The manager of Fannie Bay shops, who asked not to be named, said he was using a fire hose up to three times a day to wash the poo from concrete footpaths.

“We just push it on to the street and the public walks in it every day. It is a dirty secret in Darwin,” he told the Northern Territory News.

He said it was not just Fannie Bay that had the problem, but also Parap, Stuart Park and in the “nooks and crannies,” at all shops around Darwin.

Lisa Johnston, who works at Fannie Bay cafe the Cool Spot, said she smelled it every time she got to work at 6 o’clock in the morning, “just after they have finished hosing it down”.

“It is pretty rank in the morning,” she said.

Port Darwin MLA John Elferink has also noticed the proliferation of poo around Parap. On Saturday morning he found it outside his office.

“I found four little deposits along the back – it is just gross,” he said.

He also found excrement in Parap car park.

Mr Elferink said he had complaints from real estate agents and local residents in the past week.

Itinerants were being blamed for the extra excrement this wet season. Many had moved their camps under the cover of shops to escape the rain.

At Fannie Bay shops about 20 people have moved in to Keith Lane, complete with mattresses, pillows and sheets, over the past couple of weeks.

Mr Elferink said Darwin City Council should re-examine its policy of closing public toilets at night.

But the Fannie Bay shops manager said the real issue was that the council was not enforcing its by-laws by cracking down on illegal campers and fining them.

Darwin City Council chief executive Brendan Dowd said council officers did not fine indigenous homeless people.

“Their financial circumstances mean they have little capacity to pay a fine,” Mr Dowd said.

Instead the council was working with police to increase patrols in the area.

Poo is not a new problem for Darwin. In July the NT News reported council rangers were cleaning up human faeces from parks several times a day.

Mr Dowd said the council was reviewing its policy on closing public toilets at night.

The NT Government was also in the process of seeking further funding for the “Return to Country” program to help people presently stranded in Darwin return to their communities.