Robert BrophoRobert Brophoi(A21923 works by)
Robert Charles Bropho)
Born:Established:9 Feb 1930Toodyay,Toodyay - Goomalling - Wongan Hills area,Southwest Western Australia,Western Australia,;Died:Ceased:24 Oct 2011Perth,Western Australia,
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Robert Bropho's childhood years were spent in the 'fringedweller' camp in Swanbourne. He continued this lifestyle into adulthood. Bropho moved his family into Allawah Grove, and when he sought to occupy an empty house, he was denied access by the 'Native Department'. Bropho moved his family just outside Allawah Grove, where he and his wife made a shelter out of sheets of tin. Eventually Allawah Grove was shut down and the Native Welfare department relocated Bropho's family several times until they moved into his sister's house. Due to the cramped quarters, with nineteen people in his sister's four bedroom house, he applied to live somewhere else, and the Native Department sent the family to live on the York reserve.
While living at the York Reserve, Bropho and his wife were sent to court for neglecting their children and their seven children were taken away to New Norcia Mission for two years. Bropho and his wife moved back to Bropho's sister's house to wait out the two years their children would be gone.
In 1977, Bropho led a convoy of thirty-five people, including women and children, from Lockridge campsite in Western Australia to Canberra. Their intention was to protest against their living standards and the treatment the indigenous community received from the Australian Government. Three members of the convoy and Bropho had a meeting with the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, Ian Viner, and were thus given the opportunity to put forward their situation and request change. Bropho was disappointed in what he felt was a lack of understanding and compassion by non-indigenous people.
After the convoy returned from Canberra, Bropho and the Lockridge community received two visits from the Minister for Community Welfare, Ray Young, who was assessing their situation. Frustrated by the government's inaction, Bropho and his 'fringedwelling' community moved to the grounds of an Anglican Church in Guildford before relocating to Heirisson Island on the Swan River. The lack of water and toilet facilities on the island meant that they had to walk for many miles to use the amenities or get a drink. After Heirisson Island, Bropho spent time travelling to other indigenous communities, that he felt needed support for issues such as better living conditions, protection of sacred sites, or self-empowerment. Robert Bropho became instrumental in establishing Swan Valley, a Nyungah camp situated in Perth, Western Australia, one of the oldest Aboriginal settlements in Perth.
In the late 1980s, Bropho was chosen by his community to be their spokesperson against development on the Waugul, the Rainbow Serpent, sacred sites in the Swan Valley area. He helped write letters to Peter Dowding (Western Australian Premier from 1988-1990), and made petitions protesting the development. The Waugul struggle went before the courts until June 1990 when the High Court of Australia decided in favour of Bropho against the Western Australian Government.
In 2000 an inquiry was set up to investigate sexual and drug abuse in indigenous communities in Western Australia, and amidst public controversy the Swan Valley camp was closed in 2003. Bropho's daughter, Bella, continued the campaign against the Western Australian government's 2003 closure of Swan Valley.