Broome Shire to vote on Kennedy Hill demolition

Glenn Cordingley

Shire of Broome councillors will this week vote on a recommendation to demolish four dwellings deemed unfit for human habitation in an Aboriginal housing community in the town centre.

If the all-clear is given, ratepayers will have to pay about $90,000 for demolition works but council chief executive Kenn Donohoe said he would try to recover the funds from State Government agencies.

The community, known as Kennedy Hill, has a total of 11 dwellings originally built in 1986.

They are under the management of the Mallingbar Community, which is responsible for their maintenance.

The land is vested with the Aboriginal Lands Trust through the Department of Aboriginal Affairs.

Council officials have met with State Government, including the Department of Housing, the Department of Aboriginal Affairs, the Department of Child Protection and WA Police to discuss the condition of the properties, which Shire staff say should be condemned or fixed immediately "in the interests of public health".

Mr Donohoe said the buildings posed a risk to human health and termites had eaten through major structural work, increasing the risk of debris lifting in the event of a cyclone.

He said raw sewage that had back-flowed from plumbing was evident in some of the dwellings.

In some cases toilets, cisterns and fittings such as taps and sinks were missing. Rooms strewn with litter and mattresses on the floor were found to be in a filthy condition.

"The council became involved after advice from the Water Corporation in 2013 that it was going to place restrictions on the community for unpaid bills and significant water leakage," Mr Donohoe said. "This prompted Shire staff to investigate the four dwellings that were not under a Department of Housing arrangement and staff recommended that these buildings are not habitable for humans and pose an unacceptable public health risk to the wider community."

Mr Donohoe said Shire staff stepped in because the risks were broad and dangerous.

"It is also understood that squatters are using a disused office building on the site for accommodation," he said.

"This will be one of the buildings recommended for removal."