Melbourne City Council has passed laws banning camping in a public place, effectively outlawing homeless people from sleeping in the CBD.
The law which passed 5 to 4 on Tuesday night, amidst cries of disapproval from members of the public, tightened the definition of camping in a public place in the wake of a 74 per cent rise in people sleeping on the city's streets in the past two years.
Previously it was illegal to camp in a public place if you had a vehicle, tent or temporary structure with the updated definition of the by-law removing any reference to structures.
"Unless in accordance with a permit, a person must not camp in or on any public place".
The ban's been condemned by charities who say it will force rough sleepers into unsafe and unknown locations outside the city.
"This will expose them to a greater risk of assault, and will make it more difficult for homeless services to locate and engage people to support them into housing," a group of crisis support groups said in a joint statement.
A squalid camp outside Flinders St Station got media attention during the Australian Open last month and tensions have been rising since the camp was forced to make way for scaffolding work at the station in late January.
The by-law is now under a 28 day period of public consultation before it receives final approval.