WA Govt accepts responsibility for illegal Crown land camp
Lands Minister Terry Redman has accepted his department should help clean up rubbish from an illegal camp on Crown land used by itinerants in Western Australia's Pilbara.
However, he said a permanent solution would require a multi-government approach.
Mr Redman's comments were in response to calls from Port Hedland Mayor Camilo Blanco for the State Government to fund the clean-up of a camp known as Two-Mile.
The camp sits just a few minutes' walk from the centre of South Hedland and is predominantly occupied by homeless Aboriginal people.
For several years there have been calls from the community for something to be done to clean a build-up of rubbish at the camp.
Mayor Blanco said the Town of Port Hedland planned to take control of the issue despite the camp being located on Crown Land.
"If we clean it up we get criticised because we are disturbing the people who camp out there," he said.
"If we do nothing, we're slammed because of the amount of rubbish left everywhere.
"If the State Government doesn't come on board and help us, we're just going to send them the bill."
Port Hedland council held a meeting between government agencies last week to pursue a co-ordinated response to social issues in town, including the Two-Mile camp.
Mr Redman told ABC Local Radio that "uncontrolled drinking" had been an issue at the campsite and was contributing to social problems in Hedland.
"Much of the land in this area is unallocated Crown Land so I accept the Department of Lands has a role to play in managing Two-Mile," Mr Redman said in a statement.
"But addressing issues such as temporary accommodation needs, public drinking and anti-social behaviour requires collaboration from a number of state and local government agencies."
Those living at the camp have called for garbage bins, running water and a toilet to be supplied to help them clean the area.
Balgo-born elder Joanne Polly said she had lived at the camp since her husband died several years ago.
She said she would like to return home to the Kimberley and enjoyed sleeping and living in an outside environment.
"I was born in the bush, I love my bush so I can see the stars and people walking around," Ms Polly said.
She said Aboriginal people living rough at the homeless camp would clean up if there were bins on the site.
Kariyarra traditional owner Pat Mason said mess at the camp was notorious.
"What the Government should do is actually look at some sort of structure where we can actually help and assist these people to a bow shed, [basic drop toilets] and water for them that will turn off," Ms Mason said.
"Just the simple basic things that they need."
The Land Administration Act states it is illegal to reside on or erect any structure on public land and rubbish, noxious waste and disused vehicles may not be deposited on public land.