Aboriginal affairs

Rangers move on Heirisson campers

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Campers at Heirisson Island this morning. Photo: Laura Meachim

City of Perth rangers again tried to move on people living on Heirisson Island today.

Police and rangers packed the tents and belongings of campers into removalist trucks around 9am yesterday but about 30 protesters returned to the island this morning.

Megan Armstrong has been living at the camp for over a year and said the rangers’ actions were completely unnecessary.

“I’m here for the cultural reasons, for the protest and this land, for the people and what we’re protesting for, for the homelessness and the people who are able to come here from the cities and have refuge.”

The occupants refer to the site as Matagarup, a refugee camp for those with nowhere to go.

The council said it continued to work with agencies such as The Salvation Army, Department of Housing, United Care West and Ruah to help those who were genuinely homeless.

“Three to four family groups only meet relevant agencies’ criteria for being designated as homeless, and are being case-managed by these agencies,” a council statement said.

According to the council, more than 80 per cent of tents removed from Heirisson Island yesterday were vacant.

One stolen vehicle, several unregistered vehicles and one vehicle fitted with stolen number plates were seized.

The island has been occupied since 2012 when the first tent embassy was erected to protest the state government’s $1billion native title settlement offer.

It was the City of Perth’s tenth attempt to close the site which is local government property under local law.

Ms Armstrong said it would be devastating for the indigenous community to be forced to leave.

“It’s a safe haven, it’s Matagarup refugee camp and we will keep coming back here,” she said.

Categories: Aboriginal affairs, Legal