The lease of the DADAA premises at Beach Street opposite the East Street jetty was on the Fremantle Council agenda on Wednesday.
DADAA is moving into the former Boys School at Princess May Park and the officers wanted an Expressions of Interest period to find out which community groups are interested in leasing the building.
Speakers from arts, disability and the RSL expressed an interest in moving into the building, but a motion by Councillor Pemberton that there should be a three-months period to see if the building would be better suited for the Walyalup Aboriginal Cultural Centre than the present one at Arthur’s Head did get support from her fellow Councillors.
I do agree with Pemberton’s sentiment that Noongar people who are still suffering from multi-generational trauma deserve and need support to lift them to a same level playing field as other community groups. However that support was already there and the City invested $ 200,000 a year for two years in the Walyalup centre at Mrs Trivett Lane that got very little support from the Noongar community and basically failed to make any impact at all.
It was clear from the beginning that it would be very hard to make it successful because of family feuding in the Noongar community. The manager of the centre told me he had even considered a roster so certain families could use the centre on some days, and some on other days, because they would not be willing to share the space on the same days.
We know that there is constant disagreement who is allowed to speak or not for certain parts of the Perth metro region with some families claiming to be the only descendants of Yagan while other families claim they are also direct descendants of the great Noongar warrior.
This will affect the success of the Walyalup centre no matter if it is at Arthur’ Head or near Cantonment Hill. An EOI period to find an Aboriginal group to manage the existing Walyalup centre has failed so far and it is unlikely that the City will be able to find a Noongar group willing to pay the $ 16,000.00 rent per annum for leasing the Beach Street building.
My concern is that we will have a period where other community groups will be excluded from bidding for the DADAA building at Beach Street while the City is engaging with Noongar elders about the prospect of them running an autonomous cultural community centre.
We know from past experience that this will be a long drawn-out process that no doubt will require money to pay consultants and those attending meetings with no guarantee whatsoever that there will be a positive outcome and good community use for the Beach Street building.
In the meantime the Arthur Head Aboriginal cultural centre will remain a flop and closed most days and won’t be put back for Expressions of Interest, although Arts on the Move, who expressed interest in the DADAA building, appears to be a perfect tenant for the Bathers Beach Art Precinct building.
It is imperative that the City of Fremantle does not allow the Noongar consultation to go further than three months as it would hold back the opportunity for other groups to move in, in case Noongar elders can’t come to an agreement on who and how to run the Walyalup centre in the new location.
While I deeply respect Aboriginal culture the City needs to be realistic about the fact that the DADAA building can’t be allowed to be vacant for too long as that will attract anti social behaviour and homeless people to the building, and the same applies to the Walyalup Centre at Arthur’s Head.
What also should be considered is if a city centre location is really the best for a Noongar community centre as not many Aboriginal people live in the CBD. Maybe a building in the Hilton/White Gum Valley area would be more appropriate if the centre is not meant to be a cultural centre for overseas and Wadjela visitors.
The Noongar community will need to make a few good decisions fast if they are genuinely interested in managing a community centre. Kaya!
If the City of Fremantle is serious about an Aboriginal cultural centre in Fremantle it has to stop the tokenism and invest money and get expert advise on how to provide an Aboriginal experience for overseas visitors.
It is known from tourism surveys that many visitors complain about the lack of opportunities to meet Aboriginal people and engage with them and get to know more about their culture and history.
I don’t like to say it, but I told you so when I still lived at Captain’s Lane that the Walyalup Centre in a tiny old cottage was never going to work. Even Councillor Rachel Pemberton said at the FPOL committee meeting this week that Councillors knew the cottage at Arthur Head would not be perfect but it was a case of better something than nothing.
In my opinion it was also not going to work because of the wrong choice of personnel to manage the centre. The cultural centre needs someone who knows how to engage with tourists, who knows how to run an art gallery and who knows how to come up with and manage events. The Aboriginal liaison officer of the City of Fremantle is not that kind of person, no matter how likeable he is and how good he is at the job he was employed for. It is unfair to expect him to run the centre and it is not his failure but that of the administration who put him in charge. I am sure his job description when he applied for the position did not mention managing a cultural centre .
A totally different energy and knowledge base is needed to run a cultural centre than the one needed to liaise between a Wadjela administration and the Whadjuk Noongar community.
If the Walyalup Centre was to be moved it should be to the No 1 studio at J Shed that was wrongly and stupidly leased to Sunset Events to create a tavern and outdoor music centre.
If the Noongar community is not against a centre at Arthur Head this is the right location because it has a large outdoor area suitable for music and dance events and story telling, while the large space of J Shed allows for serious Aboriginal art exhibitions and events that might help fund the centre and even make it self-funding over time.
Wishy-Washy Fremantle City governance and inconsistencies are to blame for the mess the Bathers Beach Art Precinct is, because there is a serious lack of quality control and lack of a real concept for the area.
Up at Captain’s Lane the City has created a night-time ghost town that has attracted anti social behaviour (I told them so!), while it has created day-time mediocrity, with the exception of the excellent and professional Glen Cowans underwater photography.
The Walyalup centre could enhance the historic, cultural and art aspect of the area and tell the Noongar stories, and the impact of British settlement and about the connection of the area to the horrendous indigenous Rottnest Island Quod prison where so many Aboriginal men died.
To do that the City needs to go through a process of consultation, expert advise and contracting the right people to run a centre of significance that will attracts many thousands of visitors each year, help activate Arthur Head and will allow the proud Noongar history to be told by our first nation people. To continue as it is in any location will be a failure that the Noongar community does not deserve.
Fremantle’s JAPINGKA GALLERY in High Street is having new exhibitions which will open tomorrow Friday the 10th of February at 6.30 pm.
In Gallery 1, Gunditjmara artist, Kurun Warun creates beautiful and striking paintings of his culture and environment, using colours that reflect natural resources and cultural body markings.
The Gunditjmara people hail from around Portland and Lake Condah regions in Victoria (between Warrnambool and Mount Gambier in the lake country to the west of Melbourne).
In Gallery 2, Tanami Desert Artists – Yuendumu & Nyirripi is an exceptional and varied exhibition of colour and stories by an acclaimed group of Warlpiri artists which is held in association with the Warlukurlangu Art Centre.
Warlpiri artists from Yuendumu in the very remote Tanami Desert were amongst the first community groups to take up the desert art movement that spread from Papunya. In fact the senior men of the community established a Museum for their cultural artefacts in 1971, at a similar time when the Papunya artists began to record the first stories painted on murals and then on boards.
The powerful artistic traditions from this remote Community (some 290 kilometres north east from Alice Springs) which were already established by artists such as both Maggie and Judy Watson Napangardi continue to grow and develop with the artists’ distinctive love of and use of colour a strong identifying element of their remarkable artistic tradition.
Both Exhibitions open 6.30pm Friday 10th February, and run daily until 29th March, 2017. Admission is Free. Japingka Gallery, 47 High Street Fremantle. Open 7 Days.
The FPOL Committee of the City of Fremantle were debating the use of the DADAA premises at Beach Street last evening and the better use and/or better return for Council owned properties.
DADAA are moving into the former Boys School and FTI building at Princess May Park and the building opposite the East Street jetty they are using will become vacant in a few months, so expressions of interest will be sought by the CoF for that building.
Councillor Rachel Pemberton suggested the building could be used for the Walyalup Aboriginal Cultural Centre, which has failed to make an impact at Arthur’s Head, but I doubt the new location would make it any more successful because it is well away from tourism routes in Fremantle.
It came as a surprise to me that Councillor Sam Wainwright said the City should be clear about what the Aboriginal centre could be, because that focus should have been there three years ago before putting the centre in a former pilot’s cottage in the heritage precinct, which the city in its wisdom made into an unsuccessful arts precinct, where they then also wanted to put a tavern and outside music venue in.
The Walyalup Centre failed to attract overseas visitors and the local Aboriginal community because it wanted to do a tiny bit of everything and lacked focus, creativity and energy.
The seasonal programs on offer were very similar each time and there was no variety. There were also no events for tourists, especially the thousands of cruiseship passengers who might well have been interested in Aboriginal music and dance and story telling.
The centre attracted only a handful of people each month when hundred metres away from it the Roundhouse gets thousands of visitors each month.
The cottage is wrong, the offerings of the centre uninspired and not focussed on attracting people, and the Aboriginal community never embraced the idea and did not make it into a community hub for Noongar people.
I doubt very much that there would be improvement if the centre moved to Beach Street because it is the lack of concept and lack of passion that made it fail at Arthur Head. Who will change that?
The W.A. Nyoongar First Nation people held a major cleansing smoking ceremony at the Fremantle Roundhouse and Bathers Beach this Saturday morning.
The very moving event attracted around 1,300 people to Arthur’s Head and made me quite emotional.
This was an event about Nyoongars and Wadjelas moving forward together and left me with real hope for the future.
This was not anti Australia Day but pro Australia. It was not about victims and perpetrators but about real reconciliation with mutual respect and about considering an alternative day to celebrate Australia.
One Day in Freo continues at the Esplanade today from 2 pm and from 4 pm with a concert with Mama Kin, John Butler and Dan Sultan.
Join in and spread the love!
Non commercial organisations are free to use these photos. Just drop and drag. Credit: Roel Loopers.
P.S. Unfortunately I won’t be able to take photos of the Esplanade event as I will be on guide duty at the Roundhouse for the Fringe Festival show there this evening.
Tomorrow, Saturday January 28 will be a very special community day in Fremantle that will celebrate our history and multiculturalism.
It starts of at 9.30 am at Arthur Head with a significant smoking ceremony by Nyoongar elders.
Two four hundred-year-old boomerangs from the South West will fly again from the hands of youngsters.
Aboriginal dancers and representatives will conduct smoking ceremonies in three locations – in the Round House, in front of the Round House and in the Bathers’ Beach area. Small ceremonial fires held within metal dishes will be positioned in three locations and manned by representatives.
The ceremonies will be delivered in unified sequence across the three locations with the main ceremonial fire inside the Round House and a Ceremonial Progression of Aboriginal and General Community witnesses and participants together with the greater community led by Aboriginal elders out onto Bathers Beach.
Burning of Balga trees will take place on the grassed area in front of J Shed at 6.00pm.
And from 2 pm on the One Day In Freo event is at the Esplanade with family entertainment and from 4 pm on the great John Butler, Mama Kin and Dan Sultan will perform live from 4 pm.
It’s going to be a fantastic day to celebrate our diversity and sense of community and the huge contribution everyone has made to make Fremantle the very special and unique place it is.
I want to share this message from Facebook by Aboriginal elder Robert Eggington about Australia Day in Fremantle:
This is where the community decision was endorsed by our community to support the Fremantle Shire’s decision to change the date of Australia Day and attempt to ensure that their celebrations avoided the day of the arrival of the first fleet to commit the first act of genocide on our people.
This is where it was decided to ban the fireworks displays. At Dumbartung we believe that this first step may lead onto other changes as to how this country and its identity can actually identify and recognise that Australia was built on the blood shed of our people.
So to all those who advance Australia fair such as Robert Issac and others, yes there was a meeting and yes it was held at Dumbartung and yes many senior elders and community people representing thousands in their families supported this beginning of change!! So don’t talk on behalf of our community from your government appointed positions Mr Issac and Mr Ben Wyatt.
May our Campfires Burn Forever
Some of the families at the meeting were the Eggington’s, Pells, Bropho’s,Woods, Eades, Ronan’s Colbung’s Collards, Moore’s Ben Taylor and others.
The media and social media hype and hot air about the City of Fremantle celebrating Australia Day on January 28 instead of January 26 needs to get some balance by pointing out some simple facts.
Historically Australia Day is only meaningful for people in NSW. “Australia Day is a national public holiday commemorating the founding on 26 January 1788 of the colony of New South Wales.” It celebrates the arrival at Sydney Cove of the first 11 convict ships-the first fleet-from England, so the day is historically meaningless to Western Australia and all other Australian states and territories.
Fremantle was only settled by the British in 1829, so 41 years after the east coast, and was the start of the Swan River Colony, hence we celebrate Foundation Day, renamed WA Day in 2012, in June each year
A far more meaningful date for Australia Day celebrations would be January 1, where in 1901 the six separate British colonies agreed to form the Commonwealth of Australia. Australia Day is quite a recent national day as it started only in 1994, twenty years ago.
It is funny that there is outrage about Fremantle’s Australia Day changes when Australia can’t even celebrate the birthday of the Queen of England, the head of our nation, on the same day and states celebrate Her Majesty’s birthday on different days, so why is ‘Straya Day’ so important?
Australia Day celebrations in Perth and Fremantle have become a day for boozers and bogans where police and security have their hands full trying to keep the drunks in check and there are many complaints about behaviour at South Beach, Bathers Beach, etc. during the fireworks.
Now Fremantle will have two days of celebration, no doubt to the delight of the Fishing Boat Harbour traders who will rub their hands, with dollar signs lighting up their eyes, as they now can cash in twice, once during the fireworks they organise and the second time during the John Butler, Mama Kin One Day in Fremantle concert on the Esplanade.
Those who believe it is political correctness gone mad that Fremantle shows sensitivity and acknowledges the terrible wrongs of the past toward Aboriginal people probably also believe the Jews should just get on with it and over the Holocaust, like our indigenous people should stop whingeing about the Stolen Generations, the massacres, Sister Kate, the Rottnest Quod indigenous prison, and the abuse inflicted on Aboriginal boys and girls, etc. Yep, just get on with it hey, because us Wadjelas want to celebrate an irrelevant day with very expensive and polluting fireworks.
It is not a big deal at all that the City of Fremantle is not celebrating Australia Day on January 26 because the day means historically nothing to our city and our state, so my advise it get over it and have fun all long weekend in our great city!
My friend Greg Nannup of Indigenous WA is conducting FREMANTLE INDIGENOUS HERITAGE TOURS, so check out the website and make bookings through there: http://www.indigenouswa.rezdy.com
Take a journey to the time of the Wadjuk, the traditional custodians of Fremantle, Perth and the Swan River. Learn about Fremantle’s untold history spanning from the Ancient Dreamtime to the arrival of the early explorers and settlers. Hear an ancient Dreamtime story of the Nyoongar people.
Visit the Roundhouse Prison, Western Australia’s first public building, and explore the history under the guidance of the Fremantle Volunteer Guides.
Follow the story of Yagan (The Wadjuk Warrior) and Midgegooroo (The Wadjuk Elder of the Beeliar people) who both resisted settlment at a costly price in the year of 1833.
Visit the Fremantle Whaling Tunnel, learn of early whaling and hear the Aboriginal perspective as to ‘why whales beach themselves’. Discover bush food and interesting native coastal plants.
Hear stories of the Dreamtime and discover how sustainability and caring for nature was a way of life.
Tours departs from the lawn of the Shipwreck Galleries Museum, Cliff St Fremantle and take 90 minutes.
Schools please contact firstname.lastname@example.org regarding excursions and Incursions.
I have participated in tours by Greg Nannup a few times and highly recommend them!