Law reform to decriminalise begging in Tasmania is well overdue

20th May 2024

The Tasmanian Greens will introduce their bill to decriminalise begging in parliament this week and this law reform is well overdue, says the Australian Lawyers Alliance (ALA).

“We support this bill because begging should not be a criminal offence.  It’s a social issue – we need more support services for people living rough,” said Ms Rowena Macdonald, state president, Australian Lawyers Alliance (ALA).

“This outdated offence makes extreme poverty a crime. Criminalising begging is a cruel response to a serious social problem.

“Treating begging as a crime ignores the housing, health and cost of living crisis we are experiencing as a community. As we embark on another long, cold Tasmanian winter, the most vulnerable people in our community should be accessing support services funded by government with options for housing and health care. 

“It is hard to believe that, as we near the end of the first quarter of the 21st century, this is how our society responds to genuine need.” 

The Australian Lawyers Alliance has been calling for this law to be reformed for a decade.

“We need to finally see this offence repealed,” said Ms Macdonald. “It is time that we had a more compassionate and effective approach to addressing this issue.  No-one should be fined or criminalised for struggling to survive. 

“Charging people for begging does nothing to address homelessness, hunger and poverty.  All it achieves is unnecessarily entangling people in the criminal justice system.  We can do better.”

Tags: Tasmania