Bush dwellers told to move

Headshot of Pierra Willix
Pierra WillixSound Telegraph
The camp is set up in bushland in East Rockingham.
Camera IconThe camp is set up in bushland in East Rockingham. Credit: SWAHP

Homeless people living in bushland in East Rockingham have been issued with a move-on notice, but a local homelessness advocate says they need to be supported rather than removed from an area that has become their home.

About 17 adults have been living in bushland off Patterson Road over the past few years. However, two weeks ago they were issued with a 48-hour move-on notice by LandCorp.

Homeless advocate Jonathan Shapiera said many of those living rough had various mental health issues and addictions but the proposal to move them straight into crisis accommodation was too simplistic.

After years of living in the bush, Mr Shapiera said many of the people did not see themselves as “worthy” of reintegrating into the community, and said an intensive outreach program was the first step to assisting these people, rather than forcing them out.

“No one has gone to visit them and talk about what is happening,” he said.

With some people amassing items such as caravans while living in the area, moving on was not as easy as just packing up.

Mr Shapiera has instead appealed for services such as a skip bin to be left in the area, allowing the people living there to dispose of rubbish rather than have it pile up in the bush.

The land falls under the responsibility of LandCorp, with the agency’s industrial lands authority general manager Andrew Williams saying it had received multiple complaints from nearby industrial tenants regarding illegal occupation on the State land. “As a heavy industrial area, the site is unsuitable for uses other than commercial and industrial,” he said.

“The safety of all involved is a high priority and as such, a move-on notice was necessary.”

Since the 48-hour move-on notice was issued nearly two weeks ago, no one has returned to the area to ask the people living there to leave.

Mr Shapiera acknowledged that there had been some issues with certain members of the community living in the bushland, including reports of arson, but said many of the people there had not caused any problems.

However, LandCorp and the City of Rockingham said they were both working with various homelessness organisations to find a solution

Mr Williams said LandCorp was working to “help achieve a positive outcome for the people involved”, while Rockingham Mayor Barry Sammels said the City had been working with the Salvation Army Outreach team, Street Chaplains and WA homeless advocates in a collaborative effort to support the people in the area.

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