Park like a ‘ghetto’

However, the indigenous people who frequent the area say this is ‘unfair’ and ‘racist’.

A petition signed by 51 residents of 123 Wellington Street (Rise Apartments) asks the City to solve anti-social behaviour problems at the park.

Petition organiser Vitali Bebekh said residents were kept awake by fights at the park and in the surrounding alleyways.

The petition asks the City to implement short term measures including fencing the park and stopping night time access, moving people found drunk or involved in anti-social behaviour away from the city and moving medical treatment for Aboriginal people outside the city.

But three Aboriginal women with their children at the park who spoke to the Guardian Express last week said these measures were ‘racist’ and ‘unfair’ to indigenous people, most of whom did not cause problems.

‘When you come down from the Kimberley you know that this is a meeting place for Aboriginal people,’ Mary, who is in Perth from the Kimberley to visit family, said.

‘I have been coming here for three weeks and keep coming back because I feel safe. I wouldn’t be here unless it was safe for the kids.

‘These complaints are racist.’

She said some people drove past the park and yelled out racist comments.

The women, who all abstain from alcohol, said there were groups of drunk people at the park but they did not cause problems.

Mr Bebekh said the petition was not racist but sought to highlight the anti-social behaviour of a group of homeless people in East Perth.

‘I live across the street and constantly experience disturbances due to screams, fights, broken glass, littering and defecation around the building and in the park across the road,’ he said.

‘In the opinion of many residents in the Rise apartment, the behaviour is unacceptable and around 90 per cent of the residents have signed the petition.’

Authorities aware
Perth Lord Mayor Lisa Scaffidi said rangers patrolled the area twice a day, with rubbish collected twice a day and the public toilets cleaned daily.

She said the toilets were open 24/7 to encourage homeless people to use the facilities rather than public areas.

Two more CCTV cameras had been installed at the park and quotes were being gathered for extra lighting around the toilet block. She said the council was considering the petition requests and would respond.

The Salvation Army, Red Cross, Night Soup Patrol, Mental Health Workers, Aboriginal Drug and Alcohol Services, Centrelink Engagement Team and Street to Home Team run operations at Wellington Square.

Perth Senior Sergeant Simon Hazell said while antisocial behaviour and liquor offences were reported at the square, there had been a downturn in offending.

‘We target Wellington Square with bike teams, foot patrols and vans, especially over summer when there is an increase of people from remote communities coming to Perth,’ he said.

‘Large groups of people in the park doesn’t mean that they are necessarily committing offences.’