Magazine of Socialist Action in Australia

Nyungah fighting to get homelands back

Reading Time: 2 minutes

In the early hours of March 18 the Western Australian Barnett government bulldozed the Swan Valley Nyungah Aboriginal community homes in the suburb of Lockeridge in Perth. Nyungah community members were horrified and outraged as they picketed outside the locked gates to protest the destruction and desecration of what is a registered sacred site.

By Neil Gray, Socialist Party

Two protesters were issued with ‘move on’ notices by the police for rattling the fence. The move on notice orders the person to be a certain distance from the area for a certain period. The WA Police were clearly targeting community leaders.

They issued Herbert Bropho a move on notice within minutes while a supporter who tried to force the fence down was issued a move on notice after about an hour later. This highlights the racist nature of how the police use move on orders. Other community campaigns and the trade union movement should take a stand against these notices as they will be used against other protests and pickets in the future.

Ten years ago the Gallop Labor Government evicted the Nyungah community from their homelands following a right-wing media campaign alleging a series of crimes. These were subsequently disproved by the WA Parliamentary inquiry led by Peter Foss.

Whether or not such crimes took place they should have been dealt with separately and the community should never have been thrown out onto the streets. Several members of the community have ended up homeless and have died due to the harsh conditions living on the streets of Perth. As community elder Bella Bropho has said “the WA government has blood on their hands because of what they’ve done to this community”.

In early March the community organised a rally on the steps of Parliament demanding their homes back. Many homeless people marched with them, angry at the increasing lack of housing and services available in the state. Recently Premier Barnett introduced a three strikes policy for public housing where tenants can be evicted if three instances of disruptive behaviour are recorded against them.

Welfare agencies are outraged and say it can be easily exploited. A tenant can be reported by a neighbour for walking across their lawn for instance. A three strikes committee has been set up by community activists to campaign against this unjust policy that has already made a number of families homeless.

The Swan Valley Nyungah community is now stepping up their campaign to get back their homelands. They are attempting to connect their campaign to the wider issue of homelessness and the housing crisis that exists in WA.

The community is reaching out to as many community groups and unions as possible to get them involved in the campaign. It’s only through a united approach, drawing in all those that are affected by Barnett’s policies that we can start to turn the tide and win decent housing for all as a basic human right in WA and beyond.

To get involved with the campaign contact the Swan Valley Nyungah community on 08 92791636 or the Socialist Party in Perth 0409 025 139.


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