Asking is not a crime

In Victoria, begging on the street attracts a penalty of up to twelve months in prison.

Laws that criminalise begging are contrary to human rights. It’s time we repealed the crime of begging in Victoria.


people charged with begging in the past five years


people turned away from under-funded shelters every day


applicants waiting for public housing

Research shows that most people who beg do so because they are homeless and/or have little or no income.

Many have other problems such as mental illness, substance dependence, family violence and trauma.

Support services to help people deal with these underlying problems are in desperate need of more funding.

Police charged one man who had just 15 cents in his cap. He was sent to a diversion program but still could not find accommodation.

A woman who fled family violence now has a conviction for begging on her record, making her life even more difficult.

The experts agree: using the justice system to respond to begging doesn’t work, is unnecessarily cruel and imposes a significant burden on police and the courts.

I’ve introduced a bill into Parliament to decriminalise begging in Victoria. It’s time to recognise that begging is a social problem that requires a compassionate response and more support for vulnerable people.

— Sue Pennicuik MP

Sign the Letter to the Hon Martin Pakula, Attorney-General

Dear Mr Pakula,

I believe that people who are begging need our help and I support the decriminalisation of begging in Victoria.

Begging is a last resort for the majority of people who do it. They can feel ashamed and may face violence from other people.

They shouldn’t face a criminal sanction as well.

I call on the Victorian government to:

  1. Support the Greens’ Summary Offences (Begging or Gathering Alms) Bill 2016 when it is debated in Parliament.
  2. Invest in support services to address underlying issues such as family violence, substance abuse and mental illness and divert people into meaningful employment.
  3. Allocate more funding to high-quality public housing to address spiralling waiting lists.

A campaign of Sue Pennicuik MP, Greens Member for Southern Metropolitan Region.
Authorised by S. Pennicuik, 206 Bay St Brighton VIC 3186.