12th police raid on Aboriginal protest and homeless camp

Bella Bropho

For the 12th time city rangers and police have raided an Aboriginal refugee camp in Perth, Western Australia, and stolen its homeless people’s modest belongings. The Matagarup Refugee Camp on Heirisson Island in the Swan River, opposite the city centre, is a political protest against the Western Australian government's threat to close many Aboriginal remote communities and a safe space for homeless people of the Noongar nation.


There were about 140 people on the island while the camp was raided on 26 April. Pro-Aboriginal activist Jennifer Kaeshagen was there and saw men, women and children get into the back of a police wagon, taken to the "next shire" and dropped off at the front of a casino car park. She explained the events to an Aboriginal radio station.


Each raid has scattered more homeless Aborigines throughout Perth’s alleyways, squats, traps and under bridges in a state which does not provide enough housing and is widely considered the most racist in generally racist Australia.


The City of Perth Shire refuses the right of the protesters to camp, protest and to shelter the homeless on the island. Police have been accused of excessive use of force during some of the raids, which have seen campers being arrested, move-on notices being handed out and court appearances.


But the campers and the homeless continue to return. On each occasion the camp has re-established itself, led by Noongar Elder, Bella Bropho, who has camped on the island since 1 March 2015.