Freo's View


Posted in economy, education, fremantle, hospitality, notre dame university by freoview on October 19, 2016

I am a big fan of Fremantle’s Notre Dame University but believe the significance of the university to the Fremantle economy has almost slipped unnoticed under the radar of many in our community with some complaining the uni, like every other educational institution in Australia, does not pay council rates.

What UNDA has done is building a very strong brand with high academic acclaim and student satisfaction in the historic West End of Fremantle that attracts more than 6,000 students a year to the campus who are being looked after by around 1,700 staff and lecturers. That is over 7,700 people buying coffee and meals in Freo! It is estimated that the students alone contribute $ 1 million a year to the cafe industry.

When we talk about economic revitalisation we mention a possible 1,200 Housing Department staff relocating to Kings Square, 160 staff the Mediterranean Shipping Company in Cliff Street has brought in and some 200 people now working at the new Atwell Arcade building. That is all great but it also shows how important Notre Dame is for Freo’s hospitality and retail as it alone brings five times more people into Fremantle than those three examples combined.

Most cafes in Fremantle’s West End would not survive without the university, as they and tourism create the numbers that make these small businesses viable. Together with the weekend attraction of Fremantle to suburban visitors this helps make cafes successful all week.

So when you think that Notre Dame does not contribute enough to Fremantle, think about all the people who have jobs in cafes mainly because they get supported by students and staff of the uni, and also have a look at how well they look after the beautiful heritage buildings they occupy.

The one major disappointment for me is the lack of student accommodation in Fremantle and the exodus of students late afternoons. I hope the City of Fremantle and Notre Dame University will collaborate on improving that. What about COF offering UNDA a block of land at the Knutsford Street workshops site for a 49-year peppercorn rent or so, where UNDA can build a student apartment block close to public transport and only a ten-minute bike ride to uni?

Notre Dame does tours of the campus where one can see the stunning adaptive re-use of the heritage buildings, and while there keep an eye out for some outstanding Aboriginal art work on the walls. The free tours are being held every Friday morning. Contact UNDA for information.

Roel Loopers

3 Responses

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  1. Caroline said, on October 19, 2016 at 5:58 pm

    Just because the very rich Notre Dame university (with branches in several cities) people contribute to the economy does not mean they should be subsidised for student accomodation. Unless of course you agree that mining cos. should not have to pay much tax as they are…….giving lots of money to political parties? They can well afford it.

  2. AJ said, on October 19, 2016 at 11:14 am

    I Agree Roel – you only have to be in town when Uni is on holidays to notice the difference. As a community I think we (UNDA, residents, businesses) could do more to embrace each other. The rates issue, which I don’t think is unique to UNDA, is something ratepayers should take up with the Council (if, indeed, it is not governed by state or Federal laws).

    I was interested in your “1,200 Housing Department staff ” figure. Is there a source for that? The Housing Authority’s own current Annual Report states:
    “The Authority employs 1,647 employees (1,523 full time equivalents) across 30 locations around the State.” and indicates that 60% of these are in “Service Delivery” which is presumably mostly done through local offices. In fact the previous year’s Annual Report states that “1 in 5” employees are regionally based (outside the metro area), so I think the 1200 figure for the head office must be quite optimistic

  3. Pete said, on October 19, 2016 at 10:49 am

    Simplistically though … Notre Dame is a huge (wealthy?) beast of the West End ‘fed’ by the ratepayers !

    The Uni is about to erect a new multi-million dollar building on High Street and, I assume, they wont be paying rates on that either !

    I for one can understand why the peasants might be revolting !

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