MATAGARUP activists had their first day in court this week, hoping to get an injunction against further raids on their Heirisson Island camp by Perth city council.
Camping on the island is forbidden under council rules, and it’s recently ramped up raids to confiscate tents, blankets and other camping gear used by Indigenous and homeless people who set up a community there.
Head claimant Bella Bropho, who established the camp in protest against the planned closure of remote Aboriginal communities, is hoping an injunction will let them stay while a Perth native title claim wends its way through the courts.
She argues higher state and federal laws including the Aboriginal Heritage Act of 1972 grant them the right to be at Matagarup.
Known as “Leg Deep”, the island and surrounding area is a traditional spot for hunting, plant gathering and has significance for birthing women.
Although some of the island is reclaimed land, Ms Bropho’s brother Herbert says other precedents have shown that as long as the original portion is still intact, it will still retain its sacred significance.
About 20 protesters braved the rain Tuesday June 28 as a show of support on the first court date where lawyers locked horns in the initial tête-à-tête, and they’ll be back in court later next month for a more detailed face off.
by DAVID BELL