14 February 2023

Homeless evicted from Moruya campground as crisis intensifies

| Zoe Cartwright
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Temporary housing

Temporary housing at Moruya Airport. Photo: Kim Treasure.

Five eviction notices have been issued by NSW Police to longer-term campers at Eurobodalla Council’s North Head campground near Moruya.

The evictions follow a serious assault at the site on New Year’s Eve and recent anti-social and illegal behaviour requiring police involvement.

The campground has been closed to tourists temporarily as a result, and all campers are being reminded this week of the need to comply with campground rules or face eviction.

Robert Butler was one of the people issued an eviction notice.

While he doesn’t dispute that there was an altercation at the campground over the holiday period, he says it was initiated by tourists, and the evictions are another blow to those struggling to get by.

“I got smacked in the head by a bloke who doesn’t live there – well, I hit him back and now I’m banned for five years, as well as from the campgrounds at Mystery Bay and Dalmeny,” he said.

“The police told me I have to speak to the council about picking up my things, the council told me I have to speak to the police.

“I feel like we’re being singled out; I feel stuck.”

Eurobodalla Mayor Mathew Hatcher said people were being evicted because their anti-social behaviour breached campground rules, not because they were homeless.

“I want to be really clear with the community: those being evicted by NSW Police from North Head campground are being evicted because of their behaviour, not because they are homeless,” he said.

“We need to protect the safety of staff and other campers, and that is also why we aren’t allowing tourists to stay at the moment.”

READ ALSO Premier’s office won’t commit to housing support

Mr Butler said the situation at the campground was worsening, and thefts were not uncommon.

He said there had been dangerous dogs at the campground on occasion, and he did not feel safe.

Mr Butler’s aunt, Frances Andy, said the housing crisis in the Eurobodalla was disproportionately affecting the Indigenous community, and on the anniversary of National Apology Day, she fears another Stolen Generation.

“People come down and camp for the weekend and cause trouble – it’s a holiday for them, it’s a laugh,” she said.

“They go back home to their lovely big houses, and these families that have been evicted have nowhere to go, they have nowhere to live and they have kids.

“I’m part of the Stolen Generation and I know now these families are going to have DoCS on their back.

“We’re going to have another Stolen Generation happening, and no-one wants to listen to the people who are being affected.”

The primitive campground, without enclosed showers or hot water, is currently home to about 50 people experiencing homelessness.

In response to the housing crisis, the Eurobodalla Shire Council has chosen not to enforce NSW Government regulations limiting campers to a maximum of 50 days a year at the site.

They have pleaded for further support from the State Government, but have received nothing.

Mayor Hatcher said he was upset the situation had reached this point.

“I’ll say it again. A primitive campground is not a suitable place for people to be living long term,” he said.

“Despite the best efforts of the shire’s welfare agencies and the council, people need proper housing and the support and access to services that come with that.

“I once again call on the NSW Premier to make immediate arrangements to house the people living at North Head campground. This situation cannot go on.”

That’s one thing the Mayor and Mr Butler can agree on.

“We need more houses – this is a real crisis,” Mr Butler said.

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