Council warns campers back on Perth island

There will be no softening of the stance by authorities clamping down on campers occupying Heirisson Island in central Perth, where tents have returned only hours after forceful evictions.


Angry scenes erupted at the Swan River site on Tuesday, when more than 100 mostly indigenous people were forced to leave by police and council rangers.

At least one man was arrested and two move-on notices were issued, and tents and other possessions were seized.

A handful of newly-donated tents were again erected overnight, prompting the City of Perth to warn it would continue to monitor the island for breaches of local government law, and prosecutions could follow.

“Heirisson Island is local government property under Local Law and a valued recreational reserve,” the council said.

It said it had taken care while taking away the campers’ possessions and recorded the goods, which could be collected once the costs of removing, impounding and storing them had been paid.

But some of the campers say they’re homeless and have nowhere else to go.

“It was pretty awful yesterday – we’ve just got nowhere to go and no-one will help us. No-one from the government will help us,” one camper told 6PR radio.

The council said it continued to work with agencies such as The Salvation Army and Department of Housing to assist those who were truly homeless, adding three to four family groups had met the relevant agencies’ criteria and were being case managed.

It also claimed more than 80 per cent of tents removed from the island on Tuesday were vacant, while one stolen vehicle, several unregistered vehicles and one vehicle fitted with stolen number plates had been seized.

The island has been continuously occupied for about a year, initially as a protest against the planned closure of certain indigenous communities in remote parts of WA, but was also used in 2012 as the Nyoongar Tent Embassy.

The embassy says the island, known as Matagarup, is of great cultural significance and is registered with the WA Department of Indigenous Affairs as a meeting place, plant resource, camp and hunting place.