The lease of the DADAA building at Beach Street and the establishment of a new Aboriginal cultural centre was debated at length at full council of the City of Fremantle last night. I am happy that common sense prevailed and that an amendment by Deputy Mayor Dave Coggin was endorsed by his fellow Councillors.
Coggin said that it was important to resolve the process and then decide on the location of a new cultural centre for the Whadjuk Noongar people.
“I don’t believe we have enough information to understand the needs for a potential new indigenous cultural centre or any other type of indigenous community centre that might be positive in Fremantle. We should be taking a best practice approach to this issue by identifying and understanding the needs, engaging with the community, and identifying potential delivery models, with a focus on governance, funding and management.
Once we have been through this process, we will be in a position to make an informed decision about our support for such a facility, with the full knowledge of why it is needed, what it can achieve, and what is appropriate governance, funding and delivery model.
This report agreed at 1-3 will separate the issue of indigenous cultural centre from the availability of 21 Beach Street. It is likely that the process will take 12 months, and it is not appropriate for a valuable community asset at Beach Street to go unutilised during that time. Furthermore, the availability of Beach Street is currently driving the policy process, which is suboptimal.”
Councillors Hannah Fitzhardinge and Doug Thompson said it was putting the cart before the horse nominating Beach Street as the preferred location, before proper communication had been done. Thompson also said he was not really sure what a cultural centre means was. “Get Beach Street out of the equation or we might end up with a sub-optimal solution.” But Councillor Rachel Pemberton feared that if the Beach Street property was leased to others ‘We might end up with no location” for the Aboriginal centre.”
Councillor David Hume said there is always another building and that it was a poor concept.
Councillor Jeff McDonald was worried about legal ramifications for the City as far as the equal opportunity and racial discrimination acts are concerned.
Here the full wording of the amendment:
Council endorses a process for officers to prepare a report that reviews and considers all issues in relation to the provision of an indigenous cultural centre in Fremantle.
That this process includes, but is not limited to, the following elements:
Identification and data-driven explanation of local and regional indigenous community needs in relation to indigenous cultural centre/s, community centre/s or other community-related facilities.
A comprehensive engagement plan that: identifies and engages with all indigenous community members in the Fremantle region; obtains advice from South West Land and Sea Council regarding the project and consultation; and, engages with other regional indigenous service providers.
Analysis of the performance of the current WACC since its opening. Identification of external funding opportunities.
Identification of options for potential models, including evaluation and description of potential governance, management and operational elements.
Council approves funding of up to $20,000 be provided through the budget review process to undertake this review.
That Council approve the request for proposal (RFP) process for 21 Beach Street, Fremantle outlined in the report to Finance Policy, Operations and Legislation Committee on February 8 2017, and based the following selection criteria:
Strategic alignment (20%): The use of the building must assist in achieving some or all parts of the following Strategic Community imperatives:
- People – Create places for people through innovative urban and suburban design
- Green – Develop environmentally sustainable solutions for the benefit of current and future generations.
- Health and Happiness – creating an environment where it is easy for people to lead safe, happy and healthy lives
Additional Documents – Ordinary Meeting of Council 22 March 2017
d. Create – A dynamic innovative city with a strong knowledge economy and arts sector.
- Financial sustainability (15%): the building’s use will be supported by a self-sustaining funding model and/or evidence of sufficient seed funding to enable a sustainable model to be developed – allowing it to operate successfully for the entirety of the agreed lease term.
- Precinct integration (20%): The building’s use will integrate and/or compliment the surrounding community facilities and activation of the surrounding Reserve.
- Community Development Outcomes (30%): to what extent the proposed use of building delivers community development outcomes.
- Capacity (15%): Proposal promotes optimal use of the premises including land/building area utilisation and time frames of use throughout the week.
I am very disappointing that Brendan Moore the City of Fremantle manager of the Walyalup Aboriginal Cultural Centre at Arthur’s Head believes my criticism of the centre was directed at him.
I just bumped into him and he called me an arsehole and was extremely irate so it was not the right time to have a conversation with him about it.
But since my observations and criticsm of the centre were public on this blog I also want to stress again, as I have done previously, that my concerns are not with Brendan Moore but with the piecemeal handling and tokenism of Fremantle Council.
I have from the very beginning warned that the small pilot’s cottage was inappropriate for an Aboriginal centre and I questioned the lack of concept and focus of the centre.
Did the City want it to be an Aboriginal experience for overseas visitors or did they want it to be a community hub for our Noongar people? No one knows, so now they want to move the centre to the DADAA building at the East Street jetty without making it clear what they want to achieve. Brendan Moore is not to blame for that but Fremantle Councillors and Moore’s superiors are!
There is no doubt a huge challenge of getting local Aboriginal people working together because of the many family feuds and I can imagine Moore’s frustration about that as well.
Fremantle Council needs to stop feel-good tokenist gestures toward the Aboriginal people and put more substance into creating a true cultural centre, or even two. One for tourism and one a community meeting hub for Noongars.
None of my criticism was aimed at Brendan Moore and that is why I did not mention him by name before.
If Brendan feels I have personally attacked him I apologise for that as that was not at all my intention. I like Brendan. He is a good, professional and funny bloke. Kaya!
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.