Nyungar community houses demolished
Nyungah Community in the Swan Valley. File picture: The West Australian

UPDATE: Bulldozers have moved in to demolish houses at the controversial former Swan Valley Nyungah Community in Caversham.

A Government spokeswoman confirmed that 23 “derelict buildings” were being removed despite a campaign by the Bropho family to reopen the community known as “the camp”.

Noongar leader Robert Bropho and his family lived in a gated community until the Gallop Government closed it in 2003 amid allegations of sexual abuse.

Bropho died in 2011, aged 81, while serving a prison sentence for child sex offences.

A group of Bropho descendants wants to move back into the camp, claiming its closure took land from innocent women and children, but both sides of politics have pledged to never reopen the community.

Bropho family members and supporters still meet there regularly and tried in 2012 to camp illegally for about two weeks, despite a lack of power and water.

They held a rally at State Parliament last week calling for the Barnett Government to return the land to their ownership.

The cluster of mud-brick houses on Lord Street is inside a large swath of State-owned land earmarked for a bushy metropolitan park with a focus on indigenous culture.

State Cabinet has agreed on a concept for the 200ha parcel near Bennett Brook and Lockridge after consultation with Noongar families with links to the area.

The Korndin Kulluch “place of reconciliation” plan includes ideas for Aboriginal education, ecotourism and cultural buildings.

It proposes that some “culturally restricted areas” be preserved with limited access to protect significant heritage sites including burial and ceremonial spots.

Bropho’s daughter, Bella Bropho, said today the demolition was the culmination of a Government and media campaign started by the Gallop Government which led to the eviction of the families living at the community.

“Even though a parliamentary Inquiry into the Bill (Reserve Bill 43131) proved that the reasons given for the eviction were based on lies and misleading information, Gallop and ensuing State Governments have remained deaf to the pleas of the Swan Valley Nyungah Community to return their homes to them,” Ms Bropho said.

“Today is the culmination of the ongoing persecution of the last of the river people.

“Deaf to all pleas and to an understanding by all Nyungah people that this land belongs to the Swan Valley Nyungah Community, the Government is intensively trying to destroy the last visible vestiges of what was a thriving community.

“Government actions today are just one more example of the desecration of sacred land and the complete disregard that all governments hold for the first people’s law, culture and religion.”

Department of Planning acting director-general Duncan Ord said the decision to remove the “derelict and uninhabitable buildings” received widespread support from Noongar people, including the South West Aboriginal Land and Sea Council.

“The future plan will see the site turned into a park of cultural and environmental significance that can be shared by all Noongar people and the wider community, as proposed in the Korndin Kulluch, A Place of Reconciliation concept plan,” Mr Ord said.

“The Pyrton Reserve and other adjoining land are also included in this plan.

“Extensive consultation with Aboriginal groups, representatives and the wider community was undertaken in preparing the Korndin Kulluch plan.”

The plan can be viewed at finance.wa.gov.au/korndinkulluch.

The West Australian

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