Let’s move on – together

From 1927 to 1954, Aboriginal people were not allowed in Perth without an exemption.

The boundaries were set at the river, Russell Square to the west, Newcastle Street to the north and Wellington Square to the east.

Today, the boundaries continue to be significant.

Wellington Square has recently come to fore with people living in apartments surrounding the park complaining about homeless people, many of whom are Aboriginal people, staying in the park.

Russell Square is often cited in police incidents.

And Weld Square, just north of Newcastle Street, has similar issues to Wellington Square, with more people moving into new nearby developments and complaining about vagrants in the park.

Last week, the Premier announced, to much acclaim, that Perth City Link would be named Yagan Square after the prominent Noongar leader.

A century after Yagan died (he was killed by a settler on the banks of the Swan River in 1833) his people were not even allowed near Roe Street or the city banks of the Swan River without a permit.

And almost two centuries later, it seems the affluent are happy to gather in areas named after Noongar legends, but still want to block Aboriginal people out of the inner city.

Earlier this year, the Express featured an article about a petition signed by residents, living near Wellington Square, complaining about antisocial behaviour at the park. It quoted a man who said Aboriginal medical services should be moved from the City and access to the park at night stopped.

Another story in the May 27 edition revealed that 64 per cent of prohibitive behaviour orders issued last year to Aboriginal people prevented them from coming into Perth, Northbridge and East Perth.

It prickles that these thoughts and actions are reminiscent of what happened in 1927 when the Prohibited Area was first introduced into Perth.

There is definitely need to address the issues at these parks and help people using them as refuge.

But this discussion cannot be focused on removing people from Perth and inner-city services.

It needs to be bigger than that and go to the core of how we support all people living on the fringes.

Hopefully, it can be addressed and in time the boundaries lose their negative connotations.