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Barristers stand up for Nyoongar Tent Embassy

Gerry Georgatos Indymedia 23rd April 2012

Australia Western Australia Defending Indigenous Rights Nyoongar Tent Embassy Australia

Gerry Georgatos
Aboriginal barrister Stephanie Monck has taken up the cause to defend the rights of Nyoongar Tent Embassy. Ms Monck has contacted the chief executive officer, Peter Edwards, of the Perth City Council and notified him she is acting "on behalf of large number of Nyoongar people who are taking part in or supporting the use of Heirisson Island (Matagarup) for a number of purposes, including for a peaceful political protest."

Ms Monck, a well known Perth criminal lawyer and barrister, has also notified the Office of the WA Police Commissioner, that she is representing Nyoongar Tent Embassy.

She has written to the Council and the WA Police for them to desist from actions to forcibly evict "my clients" from Matagarup. She has asked that all property impounded by the Council be returned to the Embassy. She has said the grounds by which the Council and Police are evicting people and impounding property "are not well founded". She has asked the Council to meet with her and to discuss "in constructive ways" the "practical aspects" of any political protests at Matagarup.

Ms Monck has advised Mr Edwards, "My preliminary consideration of the recent actions of your officers, together with advice from counsel, suggests that my clients are completely entitled to be present and to carry on their activities in the way they have done to date."

"The whole of Matagarup is a site pursuant to the Aboriginal Heritage Act 1972."

"Justice Wilcox in his judgment in 'Bennell vs Western Australia' (2006) found that members of the claim group on whose behalf the case was brought continue to hold Native Title rights and interests in the Perth metropolitan area," she advised the Council.

"At paragraph 841 his Honour concluded that the Court would recognise the right of the Nyoongar people to occupy, use and enjoy lands in the Perth metropolitan area, and these include to live on and access the area... maintain and protect sites within the area that are significant to the Native Title holders and other Aboriginal people... My clients are members of the relevant clan group and so as individuals hold the relevant rights and interests."

Ms Monck said that Native Title on Matagarup had not been extinguished. She said that the entitlement of Nyoongars to be at Matagarup is not fettered by any requirement for them to have a permit from the Perth City Council.

She said that the removal and impounding of items by the WA police and Perth City Council rangers were unlawful acts.

Ms Monck advised Mr Edwards, "My clients look forward to an early meeting, and to your written response, with a view to resolving this matter and vindicating their rights without the need for legal proceedings."

Ms Monck spent two years at the Perth District Court as the Associate to Judge Mary Ann Yeats, and subsequently joined Dwyer Durack and was admitted to practice in 2004. She belongs to the Kungarakan and Warramungu tribal groups of the Northern Territory, and is the Traditional Owner of the Finniss River Land Trust. She specialises in Native Title Law and justice issues which affect Aboriginal peoples, particularly women. She is being assisted in defending the rights of Nyoongar Tent Embassy by well known barrister Stephen Walker.

Nyoongar Tent Embassy, without tents and resources, does continue, and there are a dozen Nyoongar folk on site at any one time.