Stop the rot: Ballarat charities forced into extreme security measures

IT costs the Salvation Army $60,000 a year to remove the items that are dumped illegally at its Sebastopol store. 

But the store, which has one of the state’s worst problems with illegal dumping, has had a big reduction in unwanted goods since it built a fence around its building.

The fence is one of the many measures the store is undertaking as part of a $500,000 state government study to stop illegal dumping at charities across Victoria. 

Salvation Army at Wendouree and St Vincent de Paul at Alfredton are the other two stores to benefit from the three-month pilot campaign.

Salvation Army sustainability and waste manager Donald Munro said the initative had already produced results.

“Sebastopol Salvation store had a security fence put around the building and the car park two weeks ago,” Mr Munro said.

“Sebastopol was one of the worst stores in Victoria for illegal dumping – it was a terrible place, especially on Monday mornings.

“Effectively the fence has pretty much cured the problem.”

Mr Munro said signs had also been put around the Wendouree store to deter people from dumping rubbish. 

He said the problem was costing the branch $14,400 a year. 

“The effectiveness of putting up signs is still being measured,” he said.

“We will look at the final bill and then work out whether it is working.”

Mr Munro said there had been a significant rise in the dumping of unwanted goods since an increase in the state government’s landfill levy from $9 to $48.40 a ton in the last three years.

Minister for Environment and Climate Change Ryan Smith said the funding would help 38 stores across Victoria address the problem head-on.

The feedback from the project would be used to develop further long-term solutions, he said.

“Fences, cameras and surveillance systems, sensor lighting and a raft of signage, using deterrence and social marketing messages, will all be trialed and assessed,” Mr Smith said. 

“‘Control’ stores will also be used to benchmark against the Salvos and Vinnies outlets receiving equipment and signage.”

The government estimates illegal dumping in Victoria cost charities $1.8 million last year, while nationally the figure is estimated to be $5 million per year.

Vinnies Centres in Victoria general manager Garry McBride said Mr Smith’s announcement was another step in the right direction. 

“We’re working closely with the government and other organisations to try to curb the problem in our Vinnies Centres,” Mr McBride said.

“The funds we spend on waste disposal could be better used in our welfare work.

“It will also take a huge burden off our volunteers who are greeted by the problem day in, day out.”

Mr McBride said the organisation was really interested to see the results of the project and expand the measures that worked as broadly as possible. 

To report illegal dumping call the EPA’s Pollution Hot Line on 1300 EPA VIC.

neelima.choahan@fairfaxmedia.com.au

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