Floral tributes have been left on Petrie Creek Bridge where the body of Aysha Baty was found. Pictured, Isaac Cahill. Photo: Patrick Woods
Floral tributes have been left on Petrie Creek Bridge where the body of Aysha Baty was found. Pictured, Isaac Cahill. Photo: Patrick Woods

Senseless death highlights need for homeless support

"What they're prepared to accept for themselves and do to themselves is a reflection of what they've been through. And we ignore them."

That's the sentiment from a volunteer working tirelessly to help the Sunshine Coast's homeless community - a terrified community which is in shock following the violent death of one of their own.

Campsite Rescue's Wendi Rampton was on Tuesday morning driving through Nambour to deliver supplies and check on the town's vulnerable residents after the death of 31-year-old Aysha Baty.

In particular, she wanted to check on a man whose cricket bat was allegedly stolen to beat the "beautiful" woman to death.

'She never gave up': Friend's heartache after Aysha's death

State's shame: Our worst areas for homelessness

Ms Rampton said the man would be mortified someone had stolen his bat to allegedly "kill and murder a young woman".

"He's so sweet … he must be absolutely beside himself," she said.

A heartfelt card from Ms Baty’s mother was seen at the Petrie Creek Bridge on Monday. Photo: Patrick Woods
A heartfelt card from Ms Baty’s mother was seen at the Petrie Creek Bridge on Monday. Photo: Patrick Woods

Ms Rampton had grown close with Ms Baty through her work with Campsite Rescue, and said her death highlighted how vulnerable the region's homeless community was.

"Everyone's shocked. She was part of the family and everyone loved her," she said.

"It's brought it into light how vulnerable they all are, because it was such a brutal attack."

Ms Rampton had been planning on returning a dress to Ms Baty that she'd taken home and cleaned, but that dress will now sit among the dozens of flowers and cards left at the Petrie Creek Bridge site.

"She'd been wearing it around and it was so beautiful, but so dirty," she said.

"I took it home and washed it (and) and was hoping she could wear it in summer.

"I wrote a card that says 'I washed your dress … I hope you can wear it in heaven'."

Those who knew her said Ms Baty was well loved throughout the community. Photo: Supplied
Those who knew her said Ms Baty was well loved throughout the community. Photo: Supplied

Ms Baty's lifelong friend, Jessica Scurry, said her friend's death should shine a spotlight on the need for more homeless support services in the region.

"She thought she was safe, and I hope maybe this raises awareness that we actually really need to do something and make safe places," she told the Daily on Monday.

"There is support there, but it's not enough."

Ms Baty's death was the second alleged murder on the Sunshine Coast in less than a year, but Ms Rampton said there had been several other deaths from injury and neglect.

She said there was not enough funding or accommodation for those sleeping on the streets, particularly for men.

"It's not safe. It never has been, it never will be," she said.

"(Homeless people) have lost their families, lost their kids, lost their jobs. They need attention."

Dozens of mourners have paid tribute to the 31-year-old. Pictured, Bella Coppo. Photo: Patrick Woods
Dozens of mourners have paid tribute to the 31-year-old. Pictured, Bella Coppo. Photo: Patrick Woods

She said the community needed to support those on the street rather than expect them to "get their life together".

"They're children that we mourn for. They're children who've been abused. But they grow up and we no longer have empathy for them, we just say 'just get your life together'," she said.

"It's a slow, gradual slide and then when you get to the streets it's really hard to get off."

Queensland Opposition Leader Deb Frecklington said homelessness had been a growing issue in the Nicklin electorate and Ms Baty's death was a "tragedy".

"We need to make sure that Queensland has jobs in this state. The best way to get people into homes is to make sure they have a job," she said.

"But we also need to be making sure that we're supporting those community groups on the ground working day and night to ensure that areas like Nambour don't become the homelessness capital in Queensland."

As the community comes to terms with Ms Baty's sudden death, Ms Rampton said those who knew her could take comfort in knowing how much she was loved.

"She has a beautiful boyfriend who just adores the ground she walks on," she said.

"She has died experiencing true love."

Ms Baty's family has asked for donations to The Shack Community Centre in lieu of flowers. To donate, search for "Aysha Baty" on gofundme.com.

Floral tributes at Petrie Creek Bridge. Photo: Patrick Woods
Floral tributes at Petrie Creek Bridge. Photo: Patrick Woods


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