FORMER Fremantle citizen of the year Marie Thorne is officially a squatter.
The widely respected 78-year-old Noongar elder lost a court case against Homeswest a month ago and, as of Wednesday a fortnight ago, was evicted from her Hilton home.
Sitting amongst a few remaining possessions she’s now waiting for the knock on the door from bailiffs that will usher her to the street.
Ms Thorne says she can doss on the couch of a grand-daughter for the time being but it’s a temporary measure and she desperately wants Homeswest to find her something immediately.
But the department has told her she can’t go on its priority list until she’s evicted, and then there’s an average wait time of 75 weeks. There’s been a massive blow-out in wait times in the Fremantle region over the past five years—from 97 to 157 weeks for general and priority applicants.
Fremantle state Labor MP Simone McGurk says she understands Ms Thorne can’t stay in her current home because neighbours need a break from disruptive visitors—a claim Ms Thorne continues to deny—but says nothing is gained from throwing her onto the street.
She says the department hasn’t managed to get its head around the cultural responsibilities of people like Ms Thorne and needs to show some compassion.
Ms Thorne is calling on the dozens of people she’s helped get into public housing while volunteering as an advocate to repay that kindness by lobbying on her behalf—or offering her a roof over her head.
by STEVE GRANT