Two town-based reserves in the Pilbara region of Western Australia are currently facing closures, with residents in one of the communities claiming they were not given notice by the WA government.
The closures are a part of the state government’s $20 million Pilbara project, which has been evaluating the six remaining town-based reserves across the region.
According to the Regional Services Reform’s website, the government wants to ensure residents in the reserves are receiving the “same services and opportunities, and have the same payment responsibilities, as other residents of the town.”
Sixty people in Parnpajinya, an Aboriginal community located approximately two kilometres outside of Newman in Western Australia's Pilbara region, will be moved out of the community.
Local Parnpajinya resident Clive Samson told NITV News nobody in the community was informed of the demolition.
“They didn’t tell us elders what’s been happening,” he said. “These people don’t want to move, they want to stay.”
Mr Samson said the demolishment started on Wednesday and so far two houses have been levelled. He said many people were "shocked" by the destruction.
“If they wanna move into town it’s gonna be worse. The whitefellas are really racist, some of them anyway,” he said.
A former cattle station, Parnpajinya is a community that neighbours a number of iron ore mine sites and is home to both Matru and Nyiyaparli people.
Tjalka Boorda, also known as Three Mile, is located in Port Hedland in the Pilbara region. This small community already has houses being torn down and will be demolished by March.
The town reserve was established in the late 1960s when the town of Port Hedland became the port hub of the iron ore industry. Tjalka Boorda sits on land in between the shopping centre and the suburb, Pretty Pool. It has a population of approximately 30 people.
Although residents in Tjalka Boorda were notified about the closure of the community, some don’t want to leave.
“Why demolish the houses when we just want the houses we live in fixed?” resident Kevin Patrick Clifton told local media.
“I have lived on this reserve for more than 10 years and it will be a shame to see this part of Hedland gone.”
The Pilbara Development Commission is in charge of the Pilbara project and was part of the consolation with locals at both town-based reserves.
In a statement to NITV News the commission said they had been consulting with Tjalka Boorda residents for over 18 months and claimed out of the 23 buildings only four were being used.
“Seventeen unoccupied buildings (including three sheds) are in the process of being demolished, with work to be completed by late March 2019. This will leave six buildings… No residents were forced to relocate,” the statement said.
The commission claims it was not involved with the demolition at Parnpajinya and it referred NITV to the Department of Planning, Lands and Heritage.
A spokesperson for the department told NITV they acted on behalf of the Aboriginal Lands Trust who organised to have "unsafe and vacant houses" in Parnpajinya demolished.
"The vacant houses were boarded up in November 2018, and residents had been advised that they would eventually be demolished as the houses had been found to be in poor condition, unsafe and not suitable for reoccupation," a statement read.