Freo's View

LET’S TALK FREO UP!

 

Those people who constantly hammer Fremantle Council with criticism about vacant shops, homeless people, anti social behaviour and crime would do well to pay attention to recent media reports.

Shops, cafes and restaurants in Mount Lawley along once extremely popular Beaufort Street are closing in large numbers and they blame high rents and a drop in foot traffic for that.

The decline in retail is happening all over metropolitan Perth, Australia and the world as the traditional high street shopping destinations have been replaced with huge suburban shopping centres on the outskirts.

Media reports about excessive shop lifting and anti social behaviour in Cockburn, Rockingham, Canning, etc have become common, and the West Australian dedicated two pages of their weekend edition on the issues of homelessness in the Perth CBD.

There are no easy solutions for any of these problems and the call from traders for councils to demand that property owners charge lower rents is as unrealistic as it would be unlawful. Governments can not dictate what rents property owners can charge and while high rents in the present retail climate appear almost indecent and selfish there is very little local or state governments can do about it.

Some owners are better and allow pop-up shops to fill vacant shops, but only for a very limited time, so that is only a short-term ‘solution’.

Crime and anti social  behaviour are State responsibility and while Fremantle and most councils do have their own very good security officers they are often powerless as they do not have the right to issue move-on notices or arrest people.

There is no doubt though that the perception of not feeling safe will keep people away. Foot traffic numbers in the Cappuccino Strip have dropped dramatically while they have increased quite a bit in High Street in the West End. The latter is probably mainly due to Notre Dame University students pounding the pavement.

It is always strange to notice on busy Freo weekends how many people are walking along South Terrace but when I turn into High Street the street is nearly void of pedestrians.  Visitors seem to prefer Collie and Essex streets for their East West movement and ignore the far more attractive historic High Street.  Why is that, I wonder?

A prominent Freo business owner urged me last week to promote that we collectively stop talking our city down and that we have to start telling ourselves and our visitors how special Fremantle is.

Only yesterday at the Roundhouse two German tourists told me how much they liked Freo and how friendly people here are, and the volunteer guides hear those kind of remarks very often. We receive so much positive feedback from overseas and interstate visitors that it is hard to believe that some Fremantle residents and traders here have such a negative opinion about our gorgeous little city.

Freo is a great place but like most other suburbs has similar problems and struggles with the retail economy,  anti social behaviour and crime. Attracting more visitors to Freo will partly help with that, and that can only be achieved by not talking our city down, but by talking it up. Let’s give it a try!

Roel Loopers

 

FREMANTLE CITIZENS OF THE YEAR AWARD

Posted in Uncategorized by freoview on January 26, 2019

 

 

An advocate dedicated to preventing Aboriginal families from being evicted from their homes has been named Fremantle’s Citizen of the Year.

Jennifer Kaeshagen is the founder and director of the First Nations Homelessness Project, which supports at-risk families and specialises in helping families avoid eviction from public housing.

With the assistance of an army of volunteers, the project has reduced the eviction rate of Aboriginal families from public housing by 25 per cent.

In the past 15 months alone Jennifer and her team have prevented the evictions of more than 100 households.

Nurse and midwife Ronelle Brossard was named Fremantle’s Senior Citizen of the Year for her decades-long commitment to providing culturally diverse women access to health and well-being support services.

Ronelle was a champion for the founding of the Meeting Place in South Fremantle, which still provides community programs today, and in 1984 established the Fremantle Women’s Health Centre which provides medical and counselling services as well as a program of health education and activities.

Fremantle Young Citizen of the Year award was presented to local Nyoongar woman Sally Gamble, who works with the Fremantle Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service and volunteers her time with the Hilton PCYC.

The Active Citizenship award was won by the Fremantle Men’s Community Shed, while a certificate of appreciation was presented to Boomerang Bags Fremantle for their efforts to reduce plastic bag use.

Mayor Brad Pettitt said all of the Fremantle Citizens of Year embodied the community spirit Fremantle is famous for.

“The Citizen of the Year awards recognise and celebrate active citizenship and significant contributions to the life of our community,” Mayor Pettitt said.

“All of this year’s recipients share a passion for Fremantle and a love of its people, and they’ve all have made huge sacrifices to provide help and support to people who need it.

 

Roel Loopers

 

FREMANTLE BEGGARS BLAME GAME NOT HELPFUL

 

While there is no doubt that beggars and homeless people do create problems in Fremantle it is unfair to blame Fremantle Council for it, as the tabloid emotive article by Josh Zimmerman in the Sunday Times does today.

The headline screams that business furious at council inaction, and further in the article it is claimed that Fremantle has the reputation as a soft-touch on anti-social behaviour.

Beggars increase in numbers during the summer months in Fremantle and there is no doubt there are heaps of them around at the moment, many of them with mental health issues.

The Community Safety Officers of the City are on the beat every day from early till late, but they don’t have move-on power like the WA Police does, and anyway, that just shifts the problem elsewhere.

There have been several community safety forums held by the CoF which are attended by police and support services, but the frustration is always evident that there is little they can do about homeless people.

Homelessness is not a crime, but public drunkenness, drug dealing and anti-social behaviour are, and that needs to be addressed more consistently, because there are a few too many who behave aggressively  on our streets who make people feel uncomfortable and unsafe.

There is no doubt in my mind that the fact that there are many support services in Fremantle attract homeless people to our city, because there is always a free meal, a new blanket, the Freo Street Doctor, etc. to help them out. Services they can’t get in most other suburbs in the Perth metro area.

Fremantle Council can’t be blamed for that however. We are yet again getting more CCTV cameras which are live monitored 24/7 and we have more Community Safety Officers on the streets as well. Law&order issues are State Government responsibility and not in the power of local councils.

It is an annoying and frustrating problem for which there are no easy solutions unfortunately, but the blame game in tabloid newspapers is not helpful either.

Roel Loopers

FREO’S WEST END DRUG WORRIES

Posted in anti-social, city of fremantle, crime, law&order, local government, tourism, Uncategorized by freoview on December 20, 2018

 

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Local residents and business owners in the area of High and Henry streets in Fremantle’s historic West End are fed up with anti-social behaviour and drug dealing, and the lack of decisive action by the authorities.

Photos and videos taken by the locals show that drug dealing is going on many times a day and that allegedly also affects the backpackers hostel above Bar Orient.

There have been meetings with Fremantle Police, the City of Fremantle safety rangers, Councillors and affected business owners and residents, but there is no relief from the steady stream of itinerants playing up in the area.

The problems near the backpackers on the corner of Henry and High streets have been going on for years, so Fremantle Council will need to have some serious thoughts about how it can improve the amenity for those who get all the negative impact from drug users and dealers.

There is a visual increase in the number of homeless people in Fremantle over the last few months, as often happens during the summer months, and when they roam around in groups they become intimidating.

Up at the Roundhouse homeless people are making the public toilets their day destination and hang out inside, so many tourists are not comfortable using the toilets.

The rangers mainly show up at Arthur’s Head early in the morning to evict people from the verandahs of the cottages, but rarely come up to patrol the area later in the day any more, so that also needs to improve.

Homelessness is a sad reality in Australia and so is the increase in drug use, but law abiding citizens should feel safe on the streets of our cities, and so should our overseas and interstate visitors.

Roel Loopers

WHERE IS REAL GOVERNMENT ACTION ON HOMELESSNESS?

 

One of the problems going to many forums about homelessness and (affordable) housing is that you have heard it all before and wonder when the action will start and the talk fests stop.

Nothing I heard last night at the Politics in the Pubs event by the Fremantle Network at The Local Hotel was new, but that isn’t the fault of the two speakers, who were equally frustrated about it.

Sam Knight of RUAH said the fundamental thing is that homeless people need homes, but they also need support workers to help with social, health and mental health problems.

The cost on the health system by not supplying sufficient affordable houses is enormous and governments fail to recognise that.

Victor Crevatin, the Director of Housing and Support Services at Fremantle’s St Patrick’s, said St Pat’s has been working with homeless people since 1971 and in 2017 had supplied 31,000 meals and 1,200 clothes to those in need, and 500 people were given accommodation.

Like Sam Knight, Crevatin said it is not just about providing houses, but that it needs support services to get people back on track.

There is the need to turn the generational NIMBY attitude around, and it is all about education to get rid of the bullshit myth about affordable housing and anti-social behaviour!

Sam Knight said it was also about offering the right mix of housing. We need to give choices about accommodation from shared accommodation to single apartments. “What are the best low-cost constructions we can do?” We need to recognise housing has a social and health aspect!

As I heard a week earlier at the Fremantle Safety Forum, there appears to be a serious issue with support agencies not collaborating well and the state government should do something about trying to streamline that, so that there is better coordination and information sharing, to the benefit of those in need.

Comment: I have supported the Fremantle Network since it started and have very often found the meetings very good, but the nice bloke, who shall remain unnamed, who took over from Rachel Pemberton to organise the Fremantle Network loves hogging the limelight. Last night again his introduction of the topic and two expert speakers was far too long. Just a short and succinct intro will do instead of babbling on for 15 minutes. Participate in the Q&A as Rachel used to do, but don’t give a very long speech. It’s not about you!

Roel Loopers

HOUSING.HOMELESSNESS.POLITICS

Posted in accommodation, city of fremantle, fremantle network, homelessness, housing, living, Uncategorized by freoview on November 20, 2018

 

Labor party leader Bill Shorten’s announcement about affordable housing and homelessness comes timely as it is the topic of this evening’s Politics in the Pubs by the Fremantle Network.

Perth Now reported this morning:

Bill Shorten has vowed to make community and affordable housing an issue at the next federal election, flagging promises beyond changes to negative gearing.

The Labor leader addressed the Community Housing Industry Association in Melbourne on Tuesday with a pitch to put struggling renters and homeless people “front and centre” in national debate.

“Nothing is more fundamental to a government’s obligations to the people than the right of every Australian to have a roof over their head,” Mr Shorten said.

He said better data about the extent of affordable housing needed to be a priority, along with better quality standards for dwellings including energy efficiency and accessibility for people with disabilities.

The Politics in the Pubs is TODAY from 7pm at The Local Hotel in South Fremantle!

It is a free event and the bar and kitchen are open, so enjoy a meal and a drink during the debate.

Roel Loopers

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HOMELESSNESS AND AFFORDABLE HOUSING DEBATE

 

The next POLITICS IN THE PUBS by the Fremantle Network is this Tuesday November 20 from 7pm at The Local hotel in South Fremantle.

This months politics in the pub tackles the issue of homelessness, which we see too much of in Fremantle

There are many reasons why people become homeless, but the lack of affordable rental housing is a big factor.

The 2016 Census recorded 116,000 Australians as Homeless, but that certainly understates the total number of people who lack an affordable and secure roof over their head.

Politics in the Pubs invite people to join in discussing the big picture issues behind the closely related problems of housing affordability and homelessness – and also the local perspective.

Special guests for this evening are:
Sam Knight from RUAH Fremantle (50 homes, 50 lives program).
Victor Crevatin, Director of Housing and Support Services at St Pats
Peter Anthony and Derek Parkin from St Pats Starlight Hotel Choir.

See you there!

 

Roel Loopers

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FREMANTLE HAS THIRD LOWEST CRIME RATE IN WA

Posted in city of fremantle, community, crime, homelessness, law&order, local government, police, Uncategorized by freoview on November 13, 2018

 

The public perception that Fremantle is a hot spot for crime and antisocial behaviour is wrong according to the statistics, Senior Sergeant Brad Warburton, the officer in charge of the Fremantle police station, told a safety forum at the Townhall on Monday evening.

The senior sergeant said that Fremantle ranked third from the bottom of all local councils in Western Australia when it came to crime, and that the majority of crime in Fremantle is stealing of clothes and food, stealing bicycles, and stealing from cars.

Minister Simone McGurk said that the perception of safety depended on where you are in Fremantle and at what time of the day, but a perceived issue is a problem in itself.

A whole raft of issues needed to be addressed and we should look at the evidence of solutions in other cities.

Senior Sergeant Brad Warburton said that police had a real passion for Fremantle and that burglaries, theft and motor vehicle theft were down considerably, compared to last year. “Crime is definitely not out of control!”

He said there needed to be a platform for multi-agency support and collaboration and that the City of Fremantle safety officers and excellent CCTV network were very important.

Homelessness is a social problem. It is not a crime to be homeless and not a police problem.

Lately Fremantle had been experiencing a youth problem with truancies, especially from the new Fremantle College in Beaconsfield and that needed a multi-agency approach to deal with. Unfortunately many agencies had a too high threshold before they could engage with issues, and that meant they often came in too late.

The new policing system introduced by the new police commissioner meant that Fremantle police station has doubled in size and the officer in charge has more control and a better understanding of the problems.

Chris Scanlon, who leads the City’s safety team, said that they are improving their collaboration with NCOs around town and that an additional 39 new CCTV cameras will be installed over the next 12 months.

Michael Piu, the CEO of St Patrick’s said that Imagine Futures had brought together a large number of agencies which are working together at all levels, from youth problems and schools to homelessness. “We need to stop things from happening in the first place!”

It was a good forum last night, but we had one about a year ago, so we need to make sure that these forums are more than just talk fest, and that actual action is taken. As Senior Sergeant Brad Warburton said “My question after forums like these is what now?”

Two things that need improvement in Fremantle in my opinion are street lighting, maybe in some areas motion-triggered lights to flood a whole area, and the fact that too many drunks fall out of licensed premises, an indication that the responsible service of alcohol is not complied with and the Fremantle Accord is not working.

 

Roel Loopers

 

 

HOMELESSNESS A NATIONAL DISGRACE

Posted in city of fremantle, community, homelessness, social services, st patricks, Uncategorized by freoview on August 6, 2018

 

It is National HOMELESSNESS WEEK, a week where we are strongly reminded about the unacceptable fact that tens of thousands of people are homeless every night in Australia and sleep rough on the streets, vulnerable to attacks.

Fremantle’s St Patrick’s is holding COUCH CONVERSATIONS this coming Friday August 10 from 9am till noon, where we can listen to those who experienced homelessness, and possible solutions on how we can end this disgraceful situation.

It is in High Street opposite the City Beach Surf Shop.

As a society, and as a Freo community we need to do so much better than what is there at the moment in support for those who just need a helping hand.

Roel Loopers

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WE ALL GOT RED BLOOD AND BROWN SHIT

 

There is plenty of time for contemplation and soul searching during the cold and wet winter days and nights, so when it was suggested to me that I should try to speak at one of the new TEDx Fremantle events about Perception and Reality, I wondered what it was I would like to speak about.

My thoughts don’t comply with the TEDx Fremantle categories of; only good science, no political agenda and no religious proselytizing, so I decided to just write down my contemplations and publish it here on Freo’s View instead. Here it is:

When we talk about reality and perception we should start with the elephant in the room first, and that is that Australia is not the best country in the world. Simply because no country is! There are many great countries in the world. I lived in three of them.

Our soldiers are not braver than those from other countries, and there is nothing specifically Australian about people helping each other in a crisis. When there are floods in Bangladesh, earthquakes in Mongolia, or wars and disasters in other parts of the world, the communities rally to give a helping hand.

Australia has lived on the urban myth of being the fair go country, but how can we claim that when the British settlers mostly ignored Aboriginal culture and language and treated our indigenous people as primitive idiots. How can a fair country take children away from their parents to bring them up as Christians and does not allow them to speak their native languages, and how can a fair country allow many of these children to be abused and raped?

How can we believe to be the fair country when we ban genuine refugees from coming to Australia, but lock them up instead in camps of neighbouring countries, but want priority immigration for supposedly ‘endangered’ white South African farmers?

How can we claim that we live in the best country on earth, when tonight, like every night, 115,000 homeless Australians sleep rough in the cold and wet?

The perception of greatness has always confused the Australian identity and that’s why we are still looking for one. We are not the Akubra hat-wearing cowboys, who live in the red dirt outback, but 90% of our population lives on the coastal plains and in big cities.

You might be surprised now when I say that I really love living in Australia, and even more that I live in Fremantle. But we need to start cutting the crap and let go off the hubris, because to be able to move forward together as a community and nation we need to acknowledge the harsh reality that Australia is far from perfect and that there is a lot of room for improvement.

We at the grassroots need to insist that political debate is about issues and has substance, and is not about point-scoring and name-calling, and we need to let all politicians know that we will no longer put up with their infantile behaviour in our parliaments.

We need to stop believing in the urban myth of our own greatness and start by showing real compassion for the less well off in our society.

It is not acceptable that we spend millions of dollars on non-essential things when our pensioners are barely making ends meet, when our hospitals are over-crowded and have long waiting lists, as does social housing, and when so many suffer from serious mental health issues.

Australia joined the so-called war on terrorism, but why haven’t we begun a war on poverty, and a war on unemployment and homelessness?

We are not all equal when multinational companies don’t pay tax, but low-income earners, pensioners and people on social benefits constantly get scrutinised to the point that is causes anxiety and depression for many.

It is good to have dreams, but it is not good to live in dreamworld and ignore the pragmatic reality of Australian life. Racism is a daily experience for those who are not white, and verbal abuse is also a daily worry for Muslim women, who have become the easy targets for ignorant fools. Western Australia has the highest rate of domestic violence in the nation!

Australia is a beautiful country, and I strongly believe that most people are good, caring and tolerant, and even more so here in Fremantle, but there are also many intolerant haters, who do not positively contribute to our community.

The Australia I love was summed up pretty well one evening in the Fitzroy Crossing pub in the stunning Kimberly when a drunk and huge Aboriginal man looked down on me in the toilet and said “Isn’t it amazing brother that we both have red blood and brown shit.” Yes indeed. We have a lot more in common than what divides us!

My wish for Australia is to wake up to reality and stop claiming that this is the best country on the planet. There is a huge different between being proud of one’s nation or becoming dangerously-and unrealistically- nationalistic. We can only find Australia’s real identity when we stop the tokenism and engage in real reconciliation with our Aboriginal brothers and sisters. To do that we need to use the word RESPECT more often.

To show real respect we need to acknowledge Aboriginal people in our constitution, we need to build a substantial Aboriginal cultural centre in Fremantle, so that overseas visitors can engage and learn about our indigenous history and culture, and we need a memorial on Rottnest Island telling the awful story of the inhumane Quod Aboriginal prison, where nearly 400 boys and men from all over Western Australia died.

Only with real mutual respect, and only with real, deep and soul searching honesty can we make Australia the best country in the world. Dismissing and patronising others is only holding us back.

Roel Loopers

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