By Damien Larkins, ABC Gold Coast

Surfers Paradise on the Gold Coast’s glitter strip is synonymous with tourists, money and parties. But every year more and more homeless people are sleeping rough in the bright, loud and busy area. The 2016 Census showed there were 1,723 homeless people on the Gold Coast, a 27 per cent jump since 2011. Community group Rosies has been helping homeless people on the Gold Coast for more than 30 years. Local coordinator Kathleen Vlasic said it was the very fact Surfers was so busy that drew them and others in need of a helping hand.

“It could be 100 to 200 people. It varies from time to time, it’s not always the same,” Ms Vlasic said.

“They seem to be able to blend in and not be so noticed all the time,” she said. “They can wander through Surfers and they’re not really going to stand out like a sore toe.” Although the main thoroughfares in Surfers are busy, homeless people can always find a quiet nook to hide and get some sleep. It also offers them safe haven from theft, and verbal and physical abuse. “They have to go into where there are shrubs and bushes,” Ms Vlasic said.

“They wouldn’t be allowed to sleep in doorways or where these lights are, they’d be moved on.”

As she makes here way through Surfers, Ms Vlasic stops and talks to people who look like they may have been sleeping rough.

“It’s heart-breaking,” she said.

“Your heart just goes out to them and you think my god there’s just got to something better than this around for them,” she said.  Ms Vlasic offers for them to come to the drop-in centre, where they can get food and a hot drink. The drop-in centres also are a chance for government service providers to make contact with people in need.