Sunday, June 15, 2014

WA government continues desecration of Nyungah community homes

"At the end of the day, we want that land returned to us," Bella Bropho of the Swan Valley Nyungah Community told Green Left Weekly.

She was referring to the Lockridge camp site which was home to the community until it was closed by the state government in 2003.

Despite the closure, the community has maintained a continuous connection with the site meeting there weekly to this day.

At 5pm on June 10, government contractors moved in to remove fences and "desecrate" vegetation that was hand planted by community members.

"Our ancestor's graves are now open to desecration" said Bropho in response.

These are the latest moves by the government against the community after the March 19 bulldozing of houses and other buildings at the site.

The Gallop government used the pretext of allegations of sexual abuse at the community to close the community in 2003. This resulted in homelessness for a number of members of the Swan Valley Nyungah Community that persists in some cases to today.

Bropho claims a direct familial connection to the site going back to the 1700s. She also told Green Left that a number of her family members have lost lives due to homelessness since to the 2003 closure.

Notwithstanding more than a decade of campaigning to regain access to their community homes, the March 19 destruction and then further moves on June 10 were carried out without any consultation with the community.

Bropho contends that the Barnett government is acting in violation of the Aboriginal Heritage Act.

[This article by Alex Bainbridge is from Green Left Weekly #2013. Photos by Zeb Parkes from an April 2 protest against the demolition of homes at the Lockridge community.]