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June 18, 2024

Police to evict in Lismore this morning?

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A strong community turn-out on Friday, prepared to greet police after NSWRA told residents the police had been called. Reclaim Our Recovery.

Police are expected to arrive around 8:30am this morning to evict people living at a house in Pine Street Lismore at the behest of the NSW Reconstruction Authority, or charge occupants who refuse to leave with trespass.

Reclaim Our Recovery says a community vigil has been in operation outside the house in 70 Pine Street, North Lismore since the NSWRA informed residents that the police would be asked to evict peaceful occupants of buyback homes in the street.

The community vigil acted to remove the fencing and boards on the home and display signs reading ‘Occupation until Relocation’ and ‘Precarity is Painful’.

Over the weekend, Reclaim our Recovery shared a social media post about the community vigil which has been widely shared, with the instagram post being shared by housing advocate Purple Pingers.

Local MP and Parliamentary Secretary for Disaster Recovery Janelle Saffin commented on the post on Saturday morning, stating, ‘I know that the people will not be evicted today or tomorrow… and local agencies are trying to assist them and will meet with them next week.’

Reclaim Our Recovery says the occupants of the home in Pine Street plan to welcome and greet the NSWRA this morning, to have a conversation. They do not plan to vacate as the police have requested. Supporters of the big-scrub home defenders have been invited to join the vigil at 8am this morning.

The occupants are requesting that the NSWRA call off the police and instead allow the informal tenants to stay in the homes.

Right to a safe home

Christina, one of the home caretakers said, ‘We have a right to a safe home, everyone does. We are creating a home for ourselves here that is meeting our needs and we aren’t hurting anyone by being here. We are treating this house with respect, it is being lived in as a home, as it was meant to be, as the old owners want it to be, and we want to stay here until the home is relocated out of the floodplain.

‘If there was a genuine concern for flood risk and people’s endangerment for staying in houses on the flood plain, then there wouldn’t be anyone allowed to be on the flood plain. However there are people still people paying rent and mortgages to live in houses less safe than this one.’

North Lismore resident Laurie Axtens stated in defense of the occupants. ‘We’re very concerned that these precious houses will be destroyed for chip to burn in the Broadwater Biomass electricity generator. These brave house sitters will ensure the buildings are kept intact till they can be moved to flood free locations.

‘Kept intact each home is worth hundreds of thousands of dollars, but if they’re demolished even in a careful way, each piece of timber needs to be stress tested in order for it to be reused by the building industry. Honestly, that won’t happen, they will just chip them unless we defend them.’

Pine St resident and immediate neighbour, Paul Paitson, who declined the buyback offer, said, ‘The occupants are great people. They’re thoughtful, kind, helpful – great neighbours, and great for our community. The houses were refurbished after the flood and deserve to be lived in.’

Occupation until relocation

Reclaim Our Recovery spokesperson Miriam Torzillo said, ‘It doesn’t pass the pub test to board up liveable houses on the floodplain with no timeline or certainty of relocation. We support the occupants’ call for “occupation until relocation”.

‘There are many possible solutions available to NSWRA, such as the “License to Occupy” agreement which has been used for various tenants of buyback houses in Lismore, allowing the owner to receive settlement whilst maintaining the house as liveable housing stock.

‘The NRRC and then the Reconstruction Authority should have engaged the community to co-design the recovery programs from the beginning, as their own Disaster Mitigation Plan advises. This would have likely avoided a situation where houses sit wasted and empty during the state’s most acute housing crisis and police are being called on people seeking shelter.

‘However, it’s not too late,’ she said. ‘We urgently need a community advisory board to the reconstruction authority, to co-design the ongoing programs before this community is harmed any more.’

Aidan Ricketts. File photo.

Ironic

Local resident Dr Aidan Ricketts said, ‘It’s cruelly ironic that immediately adjacent to this street where people are defending houses is an area of bushland frequently occupied by homeless people in tents with no facilities and nowhere to go.

‘We understand the intent of the buybacks is to ultimately help residents to move out of harm’s way, but that is a longterm operation that requires practical and humane processes that recognise the scale of the homelessness crisis in the region.’

‘I myself have delayed accepting a buyback until the authority undertakes to allow my family to reside in our home until it is properly relocated.’


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2 COMMENTS

  1. Congrats to this wonderful community! What a nice house and good on you for standing up for the right to a safe home. (Again, what a nice house!) With you in spirit. Always.

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