Tours of ‘real Williamstown’ by once homeless guides

Jo Jenkins and Pete Burns outside Nelson Heights public housing apartment block, which is on the tour of 'real Williamstown'. Photo: Damjan Janevski

A social enterprise is running its first walking tour of the “real Williamstown” this month, where the guides are people who were once homeless.

Williamstown resident Jo Jenkins started No Fixed Address City Tours about three years ago, providing jobs for those who have experienced homelessness, were unemployed or living in supported housing. Sixty five per cent of ticket sales go directly to the guides.

“I wanted to bring an employment opportunity to these people as well as create a really good walking tour of inner suburban Melbourne,” Ms Jenkins said.

“I wanted to work specifically with a particular cohort of people that I think are really marginalised and really find it quite a struggle to get back in to employment because of the lack of experience, the lack of education, the stigma attached to homelessness [and] some of the by-products of it.”

Guide Pete Burns said the social enterprise had enabled him to become a self earner again.

“Sometimes, for all of us, we feel we’re floating along quite OK in life, because I was in my own business and I was in a fairly successful state, and then some things totally out of my control happened and the whole lot crashed,” he said.

“I went from that to living in the streets, homeless.

“This has allowed me to create some small independence but it’s more than just that, it’s a sense of inclusion, it’s a sense of you do matter, you aren’t invisible, you are a person.”

Weekend tours of Williamstown start August 12. The three-hour walk will cover history, Indigenous history, street art, culture, flora and fauna and social commentary.

For bookings and more information visit