Activists pitch native title demands
Rocky Loo, 5, helps set up the tent embassy on Heirisson Island. Picture: Steve Ferrier/The West Australian

Noongar activists have set up camp on Heirisson Island and say they will stay there until they get a better deal than the State Government's $1 billion offer to settle native title claims over Perth and the south west.

Spokeswoman for the new tent embassy, Vanessa Culbong, said most "grassroots Noongar people and local elders" supported the move and the group would stay for "as long as it takes".

Ms Culbong said there were 35,000 Noongars but only a handful were consulted on the deal.

She said Noongars would not relinquish their rights over native title until every Noongar person had full access to housing, education and employment.

The tent embassy was set up on Sunday evening and about a dozen campers were settling in on the Swan River island yesterday.

Noongar elder Ben Taylor said he supported the tent embassy and the push for Noongars to have greater input into the deal.

"We want sovereignty. We want to power to run our own lives. We want land," Mr Taylor said.

Another Noongar elder, former ATSIC commissioner Spencer Riley, described the deal as unfair and like a "ration order".

"A lot of Noongar people are unhappy about this," Mr Riley said.

The architect of the native title offer, Glen Kelly from the South West Aboriginal Land and Sea Council, said the deal had a long way to go and he welcomed input from all interested people.

"No deal has been done yet and people can still provide input," Mr Kelly said.

Meetings had started with extended family groups and larger meetings would be held throughout the south west in the next six months to let people know what was happening and invite input.

City of Perth chief executive Frank Edwards said the council, which is responsible for Heirisson Island, was aware of the camp and was "considering the situation".

The West Australian

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