Freo's View


The intention of the City of Fremantle to outsource the management of the Walyalup Aboriginal Cultural Centre(WACC) at Arthur Head is questionable as reports to Council suggest the centre won’t be financially viable in its current location.

I believe it is fair to say that WACC has been a disappointment as it has neither created an Aboriginal experience for overseas tourists, nor created a community centre for the local Whadjuk Noongar people.

An investigation by Dr Bryn Roberts of the KOYA Aboriginal Cooperation into the feasibility of WACC should be considered before handing over the centre to an organisation that will require City of Fremantle financial support for up to five years.

Dr Roberts refers quite often in his report to a business model of April 2013 by Urban Aesthetics that states that viable management of WACC would need to create $ 200,000 income a year to cover expenditure.

Urban Aesthetics also recommended J Shed as a better location for an Aboriginal centre than a small Pilot’s Cottage at Captain’s Lane, as the cottages were places to live and sleep and not fit for the purpose of an Aboriginal centre. UA also believed the closeness to the Roundhouse was unacceptable because of its history.

J Shed would provide a more flexible space with higher visibility to attract more visitors and would also be easier for parking and dropping off Aboriginal Elders, UA states.

Dr Bryn Roberts writes that this history is relevant to the report as KOYA cannot see the Walyalup Cultural Centre become financially viable over the next ten years(if ever) in its current location.

I believe it would be remiss of the City to invest ratepayers’ money into WACC when expert advise it that it is in the wrong location and won’t succeed there. I warned about this when the city was contemplating to start WACC at Arthur Head, initially in the cottage at number 11 Captain’s Lane that was occupied by the Fremantle Society.

If the proposed tavern at J Shed by Sunset Events does not get approval of the State Administrative Tribunal the City of Fremantle should seriously consider moving WACC to the number 1 studio there, invest in building a cafe with outdoor deck and Aboriginal art gallery to create income. The large outdoor space is also very suitable for Aboriginal events and even the Wardarnji Aboriginal Festival during the Fremantle Festival.

It is not good enough for the City to realise the WACC is not working in its present form and its present location and shift finding solutions for it to a private or community organisation. What needs to happen first is for the City in collaboration with Noongar elders to create a long-term concept for WACC and decide if it even should be moved to a more central location in the CBD.

Roel Loopers

5 Responses

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  1. freoview said, on August 17, 2016 at 8:10 am

    Indeed Rob, especially since the City of Fremantle is just creating the new People and Culture Department when it also already has a Community Development Department. What are all those people doing when we need to outsource the management of a small cultural centre?


  2. Rob said, on August 17, 2016 at 5:56 am

    Why outsource I thought in a historical and cultural place like Fremantle the City would employ people to do this work?

  3. curious said, on August 16, 2016 at 2:47 pm

    given the feelings of many indigenous people towards the prison, i suspect that the warders’ cottages are probably the last place, after the prison, that should be considered.

  4. Paula Amaral said, on August 16, 2016 at 1:36 pm

    You probably have not been inside the cottages Margaret. The rooms are tiny, and the stairs do not conform with the regulations required for public access. That has been a problem with the Signal Station up on Cantonment Hill, and the stairs in the cottages are even smaller and narrower than the SS ones.

  5. Margaret O'Neill said, on August 16, 2016 at 12:05 pm

    I think that one of the larger Prison Warders Cottags would be a great location- very accessible to visitors.

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