Freo's View

THE END OF FREO AUSTRALIA DAY FIREWORKS

In what no doubt will be a very controversial decision the Full Council of the City of Fremantle this evening decided to stop the Australia Day fireworks immediately and find alternative ways of celebrating the national public holiday in January.

I believe it is a very brave and the right decision by Fremantle Council that acknowledges that Australia Day is not a day of celebration or reconciliation for our indigenous people. The time for European immigrants to say that Aboriginal people should just suck it up and get used to it is well and truly over, and Fremantle Council is showing great leadership on this divisive issue.

There were very passionate speeches by indigenous people who pointed out the massacres and rapes, the atrocities at the Rottnest Island Quod gaol and the Roundhouse, and as one of them said “We should all be proud of belonging to an ancients culture.”

Fremantle Chamber of Commerce board member Ra Steward was quite outraged that the fireworks might be stopped saying it showed blatant disregard for businesses and it would be a disaster if shops closed on Australia Day.

Mayor Brad Pettitt said the end of the fireworks would be a great opportunity for a new event and that we can get a better bang for our buck. He said that we could benefit culturally and socially as a community and move forward.

Councillor Jon Strachan pointed out that the fireworks on Australia Day are the single most expensive day on Fremantle’s events calendar and that stopping them would help us move further down the path of reconciliation.

Councillor Sam Wainwright paraphrased author Richard Flannagan that a worst day could not be found to celebrate Australia Day.

Councillor Dave Hume was the only Elected Member who spoke who did not agree with cancelling the fireworks. He said that Australia Day was a public holiday by the Federal Government and Fremantle as the festival city should celebrate it. “We do things on public holidays!”

I have no doubt the debate about this will continue and what alternative event(s) the COF might want to put up during the long weekend in January, but showing real respect for our indigenous culture and realising the hurt the British invasion has caused, is in my opinion a significant step forward, so I congratulate Fremantle Council!

Roel Loopers

WALYALUP ABORIGINAL CENTRE NEEDS A RETHINK

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

CELEBRATION OF OUR PLACE AT BOOYEEMBARA PARK

Posted in fremantle, indigenous, nyoongar by freoview on March 16, 2015

The Ngala Maya-Our Place-community event was held at the lovely Booyeembara Park in White Gum Valley, Fremantle on Sunday afternoon. Great to see so many people coming to the park as it is not frequented as much as I anticipated when it opened.

Nyoongar elder Marie Thorn, who named the park, opened the procedures with Mayor Brad Pettitt, while organisors Councillors Ingrid Waltham andDave Coggin kept themeslves busy, with Dave giving kids a ride in his cargo bike. I bet his calves are a bit sore this morning, hey Dave!

There were stalls, Aboriginal dancing, music and the weather was brilliant, so a great evening for the valley.

Roel Loopers

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WHEN WILL WE LEARN THAT BLACK IS NOT WHITE

Posted in fremantle, indigenous, nyoongar by freoview on February 13, 2015

It is with deep sadness that I read about the eviction of Nyoongar Elder Marie Thorne from her long-time home in Hilton, because to me it shows that even after over 180 years we still do not understand the cultural differences.

I have known Marie for a very long time and she is a gentle giant always caring for her people and her huge extended family. She is a giant because she speaks up and demands solutions, a shelter for her people so they don’t have to go home where they get abused, a shelter for those who have drinking or drug problems, a place of compassion and care and safety, but because society does not offer that Marie herself does and often too many people stay at her place and that created the anti social problems neighbours complained about.

Western society has little understanding of the duty of care for the extended family in Nyoongar culture, where so many are brothers, sisters, cousins who deserve and often demand shelter, food and money. As an elder, a grandmother, a mother it is hard to say no to those who need support, especially for someone like Marie, who has such a big heart and who wants to look after everyone.

No doubt Homeswest is between a rock and a hard place and need to look after those who are affected by unacceptable behaviour of neighbours, but evicting Marie only ads another problem to what is already a big problem.

It is not only Marie who will become homeless but also all the many people she has cared for so often when they needed shelter, a bed, a shower, a meal.

186 years after British settlement of the west of Australia we have still not made enough inroads into the cultural differences between the indigenous and western people. We still expect Nyoongars to behave and think like us, and we ignore the importance of their culture because our colonial thinking of superiority still exists. We patronise our indigenous people because we are ever so certain that we know best what is good for them. How on earth could we expect a different reaction to the problem by Homeswest but eviction. That’s the Wadjela way. I am so sorry, Marie!!

Roel Loopers

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