In June 2003, the then Gallop State Labor Government in Western Australia passed an Act of Parliament to evict the Aboriginal people living in their homes at the Swan Valley Nyungah Community in Lockeridge Perth.
By Neil Gray, Socialist Party Perth
This followed a campaign by the media and government against the community who had been vocal opponents of the Swan Brewery Redevelopment. The community was also a prominent part of a successful campaign to stop a prison being built on a registered sacred site next to their community on the Swan River at Pyrton. The Socialist Party helped with that campaign and fought against the eviction of the residents.
People from the Nyungah Community claim that since their eviction families have been broken up. The situation faced by the former residents now is not so good. The Government chose to place the residents in ordinary suburban housing which was not suitable for their needs. Now many are living on the streets. Some have turned to crime which was not the case when they were at the Camp.
The housing that they had at the Camp was appropriately designed in consultation with the residents. For instance, Margaret Jeffries, who worked in the office for the camp, pointed out that when a mob from another part of WA came to Perth, they could be adequately housed at the community with little stress placed on the facilities and residents.
When obtaining grants to build new facilities at the camp, the residents wanted to generate their own electricity, so solar and wind generators were installed. The people living in the community felt safe living there. There was a mood of solidarity amongst the residents. For example if one of them fell ill someone nearby would help take them to the local doctor.
In contrast, recently one woman died of a very treatable disease. This woman would have been taken to a doctor by others in the Camp if they were still living together. The Government is culpable for such neglect.
The option to give the Nyungah Community their Camp back now rests with John Day, the Liberal Minister for Planning. It is obvious that much pressure will have to be applied to get Day to give these people their homes back.
This community has been at the forefront of campaigns against inappropriate development and corporate greed. The Liberals will not want to concede to them easily. The fact is there was no reason to evict these people from their homes and there is no reason to keep them from their homes now. The Socialist Party in Perth will do all we can to assist with this important campaign.