‘Dawn raid’ demolition of camp

Bella Bropho wanted to see a Lockridge Aboriginal campsite reopened but instead it was demolished.
Bella Bropho wanted to see a Lockridge Aboriginal campsite reopened but instead it was demolished.

One week later, bulldozers arrived at the Lord Street property in the early hours to destroy all 23 buildings.

The Swan Valley Nyungah Community has spent about 10 years calling for the return of the community, saying many are still homeless.

‘That community is still ours, we built a lot of it,’ Mr Bropho said.

Lockridge camp was closed by the State Government in 2003 after an inquest into the suicide of 15-year-old Susan Taylor in 1999.

The camp was established by Robert Bropho in 1977, who died while serving jail time after being convicted in 2008 of child sex abuse. It was under the control of the WA Planning Commission, who organised the demolition of buildings.

At the site, Bella Bropho described the demolition as a ‘dawn raid’ that the family knew nothing about. By the time she arrived all the buildings had been destroyed and a number of security personnel were guarding the fence.

She said the site had cultural significance to Swan Valley Nyungahs and the Bropho family.

‘My mother died here, I lost a baby here,’ she said.

A Department of Planning spokeswoman said the demolition was not carried out solely due to vandalism, though vandalism had rendered the buildings increasingly dangerous.

‘Successive State Governments have agreed the buildings should be removed, since the site was closed in 2003 following the Gordon Inquiry into child abuse in Aboriginal communities,’ she said.

‘Following consultations, the wider Noongar community also agreed the camp should be removed.

‘The site, along with the Pyrton Reserve and adjoining land is earmarked to become a park of environmental and cultural significance to all Aboriginal people.

‘Extensive consultation with Noongar people and the wider community resulted in the Korndin Kulluch ” A Place of Reconciliation plan for the area.’