Echuca homelessness services say Campaspe Shire council has ignored the underlying social issues surrounding the recent rise in bin-rifling in the shire.
"Scavenging through bins is illegal, can be a breach of privacy and is extremely unsafe so we strongly urge that this behaviour be discontinued," it said.
The council and local homelessness services agreed the activity is likely a search for recyclable containers.
"Essentially, they're rummaging through the bins in order to locate containers that can be deposited in New South Wales under that state's container deposit scheme," the council said.
Campaspe Shire council general manager community Keith Oberin said the activity was unlawful.
"It is illegal for any person to claim a 10 cent rebate in New South Wales from containers located in Victorian waste," he said.
However, local homelessness services said there are larger social issues at play in the region, and people shouldn't be punished for trying to survive.
"People are doing it hard, and are looking for ways to make ends meet," said Anglicare North Central regional director Michael Oerlemans.
"It's really just people struggling and trying to make it through the week."
"In towns like Echuca where rents are high, tourist levels are high and there's a lack of available housing, we're seeing an increased demand on our services," he said.
"When JobKeeper was happening, people on welfare got used to a much better level of income.
"That of course has dried up and they've had to go back to JobSeeker allowance - so I think people are really struggling to make ends meet and are looking for any way to bolster their income."
Anglicare has seen an increase in individuals sleeping rough, some camping along the Campaspe River.
"I know there are a number of people doing it tough and living on the river in tents in the absence of any other housing options," Mr Oerlemans said.
The regional director said Anglicare are struggling to even find places to house homeless young people.
"Sometimes we do arrangements where Anglicare becomes the lease holder, we'll provide assistance to get into private rentals, we'll use our links to help clients move into social housing," he said, "but the basic problem at the moment is there isn't enough available and affordable housing.
"And without secure housing, you can't get a job, and without a job, welfare makes it difficult to make ends meet.
"No one wants people to be forced to go through bins to find enough money to survive, but unfortunately when people are desperate they may do desperate things."
Mr Oerlemans said the rise in regional rental prices was a result of tenants moving out of cities as the COVID pandemic had allowed them to work remotely.
"I know there's been some investment in social and public housing, but those things will take some time before they alleviate the housing crisis," he said.
"For the moment we're just trying to provide clients with secure options."
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