Heirisson Island deadline extended for Nyoongar Refugee Camp protesters

Audio Report from Paul Wiles CAAMA Radio Alice Springs

The Nyoongar Refugee Camp protesters on Perth’s Heirisson Island have been given an extra day to decamp.

The Nyoongar Refugee Camp protesters on Perth’s Heirisson Island
(Image source: Perth Now)

12 March 2015 Perth Now

The campers pitched tents on the Swan River island more than a week ago, declaring it a refuge for homeless Nyoongar people and part of the national sovereignty movement.

City of Perth chief executive Gary Stevenson said on Wednesday that the group seemed to be more of a political protest on broader state and federal issues, rather than on the needs of homeless.

The campers had been given until midday on Thursday to leave, but that deadline has now been extended to noon on Friday.

A City spokeswoman said the deadline did not mean the council would enforce anything at that time, but that the situation would be reassessed.

Police Commissioner Karl O’Callaghan said the council could call police to help them remove people if necessary.

“They have to formally ask them to leave the site because they’re trespassing,” he told Fairfax radio on Thursday.

“If they then refuse to do that, then we can help them to remove people from the site.” Mr O’Callaghan said the people could be charged with trespassing or be issued with move on notices.

Weeks of protests were held on Heirisson Island in 2012 after a group of Aboriginal activists objected to the WA government’s $1.3 billion native title offer to the Nyoongar people.

Nyoongar Tent Embassy (Refugee Camp) on Perth's Heirisson Island cannot continue: council

Nyoongar elder Ben Taylor at the tent embassy at Heirisson Island in 2012.
('Perth Now' file image: Theo Fakos)

AAP Perth Now 10 March 2015

The Nyoongar Tent Embassy on Perth's Heirisson Island cannot continue, local authorities say.

A group of campers put up tents on the Swan River island more than a week ago, declaring it a refuge for homeless Nyoongar people and part of the national sovereignty movement.

City of Perth said chief executive Gary Stevenson had arranged for welfare support agencies to visit the camp in the past few days and offer support to homeless individuals.

Mr Stevenson said the city had been communicating with organisers under difficult circumstances, because contacts had changed without notice.

Camping was not permitted on city centre reserves and could not continue, he said.

He met organisers on Tuesday afternoon and is expected to make a “further, more definitive statement” on Wednesday.

Weeks of protests were held on Heirisson Island in 2012 after a group of Aboriginal activists objected to the West Australian government’s $1.3 billion native title offer to the Nyoongar people.