Shed-dwellers on verge of eviction
A FRASER Coast extended family of 14 has been ordered to get out of their liveable shed by September 24 or cop fines of up to $183,000 – plus forcible eviction.
“We bought our 1.4-acre property at Glenwood seven months ago for $105,000 cash because the family that sold it to us had been living in the shed for quite a while,” Richard Walsh said yesterday.
“Hundreds of people across the Fraser Coast are living in sheds.
“In Glenwood alone I estimate one-third are shed dwellers.
“Our shed is our home. It’s all we’ve got. If the council tips us out of here, I don’t know what we will do in the short-term at least.”
Mr Walsh also suggests the family is being threatened with eviction because his wife Linda is an Aborigine.
“Our eight children - seven are here with us - have an Aboriginal mother. She is from Cape York. Linda and I have been married for 21 years.”
The Fraser Coast Regional Council has a firm policy on shed living, which it introduced after amalgamation in 2008.
Unless land owners have a council permit to build a house on their property they can’t build a shed and both need to be concurrent permits.
And they certainly are not allowed to live in sheds on their land – although hundreds still do.
This policy has recently been challenged by a Poona couple, who won in the Building and Development Tribunal but they now face an expensive challenge by the council in the Planning and Environment Court.
Mr Walsh, who makes his living out of itinerant saw milling, went to a lawyer for help but the council still refused to, as he describes it, “consult with us other than a staff member being horribly rude to me”.
“We have lived as a family in Australia for most of our 21 years and we love this country. We work. We have never been evicted before.”
Mr Walsh said he was now trying to put his block with its shed on the market and “move out of the Fraser Coast”.
“We think Blackbutt will be more kind to us.”
Mr Walsh said not one member of his extended family was on “the dole”.
In its letter to the Walshes the council’s acting building manager Laurence Eaves says the family is contravening section 582 of the 2009 Sustainable Planning Act and the Building Act of 1975.