Aboriginal affairs

Bridge over troubled water

Noongar elder Herbert Bropho today walked from Heirisson Island, known as Matagarup in Noongar, to parliament house and back, in protest at the new bridge development announced by the state government yesterday.

“I’ve protested on the island many times and I’m still struggling, who wants to live in this economy that destroys culture and destroys land.”

Mr Bropho says the announcement is like “rubbing salt into the wounds” of the people who have protested on the island before.

Herbert Bropho on the march. Photo: Cain Andrews.

Premier Mark McGowan says the development is part of an effort to boost the local economy during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Computer generated image of proposed new pedestrian bridge. Photo: Supplied.

Mr Bropho says he he has lived in Western Australia all his life, and has attempted to speak with Mr McGowan many times with little success.

“He doesn’t want to talk to me, why? All I want is answers and I’ll walk away,” he says.

Herbert Bropho during protest. Photo: Cain Andrews.

Heritage consultant and Noongar elder Dr Noel Nannup says the announcement of the new bridge has come out of left field.

“You would think this would be something we would have had the opportunity to be involved in,” he says.

“Heirisson Island is sensitive to the relationship between Aboriginal people and the city of Perth.”

Dr Nannup says he is unsure where his relationship with the government now stands after not being informed of the project.

“You take 10 steps forward and nine steps backwards.

“We don’t just want to roll over and say do whatever you like because we have to honour the ancestors, that is the connection we have to the country,” he says.

“We have come a long way to heal these relationships and we certainly hope we can continue on that journey, I would like to think that we can.”