Heirisson Island ‘refugee’ campers have no plans to move

Members of the Indigenous group camping at Heirisson Island. Picture: Sean Middleton
Members of the Indigenous group camping at Heirisson Island. (Picture: Sean Middleton Perth Now)

Kaitlyn Offer 'Perth Now' (Sunday Times) 4 March 2015

A group of Indigenous campers on Heirisson Island say the self-declared refugee camp is “for all homeless and displaced person” and not a protest.

The camp has been running since Sunday, with a sign declaring the area “Private property of the Djurin Republic”.

The group are reportedly also protesting the proposed closure of remote communities in the State’s north.

“This is a refugee camp, and it’s dry and peaceful,” one camper Willow said.

“It’s for all homeless and displaced persons, we are not protesting or declaring war.

“We are simply humans, homeless and displaced and hungry and thirsty.”

Willow said the public toilets were flooded and all but one was blocked.

Heirisson Island
The Heirisson Island camp.(Picture: Sean Middleton Perth Now)

The occupation of Heirisson Island comes three years after a Noongar Indigenous group spent several weeks on the island and were eventually forcibly removed amid ugly scenes by WA Police.

City of Perth CEO Gary Stevenson said he started talks with the group on Tuesday.

“Discussion was constructive and reasonable, and it was agreed that further information will be exchanged to facilitate a proper and orderly approach to managing the situation,” Mr Stevenson said.

Further information has been requested from the group and will be assessed, with discussions to follow.

The City of Perth will also engage with the State Government before it confirms its position and commits to any particular approach.