Freo's View


The City of Fremantle will be considering on Wednesday at the FPOL Committee to outsource the management of the Walyalup Aboriginal Cultural Centre(WACC) at Arthur Head to a community operated Aboriginal organisation that is not dominated by one family.

WACC opened in March 2014 and has been managed by City staff at a cost of just under $ 200,000 per year but it has not been popular with the Aboriginal community and tourists.

On average only 200 tourists per month visit WACC , which is very low when one considers that the Roundhouse that is 100 metres away from WACC has 10,000 visitors a month.

Of people attending activities at WACC only 20% are Aboriginal, the rest is non-Aboriginal.

I do not believe the dedicated staff at WACC is to blame for the less than satisfactory statistics but that there is a lack of concept for the centre.

It was always clear to me that an Aboriginal cultural centre should be in a more central location in Fremantle and in a larger building. The cottage at Mrs Trivett Lane was built to house port pilots and their families. The way the high non see-through fence is built at Captain’s Lane is not inviting to visitors, and even those who venture into the courtyard do not get a welcoming experience, as there is no high visible Aboriginal attraction inside the courtyard, or on building walls, there is not even piped Aboriginal music. There is a sign, a couple of grass trees in two big pots and two Aboriginal flags. That is not enough to entice people to come in.

WACC has done very little to attract the thousands of cruise ship and other overseas and interstate visitors. They have rarely ventured out onto the lawn at Captain’s Lane for music or dance events that would attract visitors and they have basically had the same program for the two and a half years it has been operating.

There is no real visible Aboriginal presence and when one walks in one finds one or two staff sitting behind computers.

Indigenous cultural centres around Australia which do well, such as Mowanjum near Derby and Warmun  (Turkey Creek) in the Kimberly, have created a community hub for local Aboriginal people to make art and for tourists to visit those centres to buy art and connect with indigenous people. This has created a very serious and lucrative Aboriginal art industry in Australia and internationally and good income for the artists.

I am very aware of the problems getting the Fremantle Aboriginal community involved in WACC as many families will not participate if families they are feuding with do attend, and that seems an insurmountable mountain to climb, but WACC needs to have a concept of what it wants to be and not try to do bits of a lot of things that don’t work and only attract a handful of people.

Besides spending nearly $ 200,000 on running WACC the City of Fremantle also has a loss of income, as the other pilot’s cottages are rented out for around $ 450.00 per week to artists.

I have pleaded for an Aboriginal Cultural Centre in Fremantle for very many years and would hate to see the demise of WACC, but in its present form and with its present management it is not working, so good changes need to be made and will have my support.

Roel Loopers

5 Responses

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  1. Jayne said, on August 10, 2016 at 7:01 am

    Of course it is. Rolls eyes.

  2. freoview said, on August 9, 2016 at 11:03 pm

    It is managed by the City, not a community group, Jayne.


  3. Jayne said, on August 9, 2016 at 9:23 pm

    What do they do there Roel? I took several guests recently and we saw two people sitting behind computers, a boardroom and sofas. Along with a dozen or so bewildered international tourists, we were in and out in less than five minutes. If that is the best they can do with council assistance, $200,000 a year, a free venue and 100,000 tourists metres away, a CBD location wont solve the problems.

    Did the council require a comprehensive business plan from this community group prior to handing over the venue and funds? Is there any accountability to council and ratepayers?

  4. Rob said, on August 9, 2016 at 5:32 am

    The people that work in the Cultural Centre are very helpful and friendly but they need a hand. And I agree the location is also a problem. People walk past unsure what it is and how to get in and once in is a little uninspiring. If it is in fact managed by City Staff, they are doing a very poor job at it.

  5. Caroline said, on August 7, 2016 at 10:03 pm

    Very true.Needs some indigenous person who has done some uni course in arts management or curation or something. But the position sucks yes. But where would be a good position is a hard one except maybe a warders cottage when they are available. The one on the right of the lane way into the food market used to be unpopular to rent as a home as it was a noisy spot to live in. It was at one time in the early 90s? going to be an Enviro Centre but the govt changed. Too small again but very high profile.

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