Christmas has come early for residents of a Port Hedland retirement village, who will stay put after their homes were deemed a cyclone risk and were told to live elsewhere. Pictured are residents with families and supporters.
Senior citizens who faced being kicked out of their long-term homes in Port Hedland have been given the best Christmas present they could wish for by being told they can stay put.
North West Telegraph highlighted the plight of people living in the Port Hedland Retirement Village on November 8, after the the Town of Port Hedland sent them a letter telling them they had to move because of concerns about the safety of the buildings.
The Town offered alternative housing 20km away at Osprey Village in South Hedland but the decision was reversed at a special meeting last week after public outcry and protests from residents.
More than 100 people crowded the council chambers, many of which voiced their concern in public question time.
Mayor Camilo Blanco threatened to adjourn the meeting a number of times because of heated disagreements and arguing between councillors, as well as attendees.
The motion for residents to continue living on the premises until their lease expired next year was passed five votes to four.
Mayor Blanco said he was not happy with the decision and hoped council members considered their votes carefully.
“It is cyclone season and in an event of a cyclone, this decision will now reflect on the Town of Port Hedland if there are any serious safety concerns or damage at the Port Hedland Retirement Village,” he said.
“Whatever we do as a council will affect the town’s growth and improvement.
“Residents do not have to move to Osprey Village, although this is the best alternate accommodation identified in Hedland — Osprey units cannot remain vacant past the January date.”
Residents spokeswoman Chrissie McDowell said she was appalled with the Town and how elderly residents were treated.
She said many residents were happy their voices had been heard and would continue to fight back with the help of the community.
“These residents have a right to be treated humanely as tenants,” she said.
“The Town did not give us the opportunity to make a decision when they planned to remove residents. They were not considered in this decision and we’re sending them to a strange part of town with no plan on bringing them back.
“Why was the matter not open for discussion before receiving the letter from ToPH?
“I am happy the residents are not going anywhere. They can stay in the comfort of their homes for Christmas. Residents are over the moon about the decision and will continue to fight for their human rights.”