Fremantle Council will consider this Wednesday if they should start a six-months process for a Noongar ‘Eldership’ to come up with a concept for the Beach Street building at the East Street jetty, that will be vacated by DADAA soon.
The issue for me is that I hear that this time a different group of Noongars will be consulted than those who were involved with the Walyalup Centre and I believe that is a problem.
It seems to me that the City of Fremantle is putting the cart before the horse and have already decided on this one location, when there is not even a proper concept of what the local Aboriginal people want and need, and what they want might be better somewhere else.
I know Fremantle Council’s heart is in the right place but for me it smells a wee bit of patronising tokenism as the Wadjelas are generously offering a space that might not be suitable at all for the Noongars, as is the case with the present Walyalup Centre at Arthur Head, that has failed for many reasons that have yet all to be assessed.
Why not have a proper and inclusive process managed by the Aboriginal South West Land Council, instead of selectively including and excluding certain families in the decision-making for a new Aboriginal cultural community centre?
Why not find out first if the Noongar people want a community centre as a meeting place for themselves, or if they want a Noongar showcase for tourists that could generate income through the sale of art and events, or a combination of both.
Why restrict the Noongars to only the one location at Beach Street when maybe a nature-based location would be better for them in Booyeembarra Park or out of town. Maybe a bigger bush project where Fremantle collaborates with Cockburn could be an option?
To me it feels too much like dogooders wanting a feel-good process instead of a best-outcome based one where Noongar people will take on ownership of the new centre and manage and run it autonomously.
What we should want for our Whadjuk Noongar people is the very best cultural centre, not just any space that is available.
Local Noongar people created a moving end to the Fremantle Sculpture@Bathers show at Bathers Beach by setting fire at sunset to the Jarrah tree installation by Replants artist Bruce Abbott.
The heavy afternoon rain made the trees too wet to go up in blazing glory, but there was a stunning sunset, a rainbow and a lot of people interested in Noongar culture.
There was also a celebration of the Labor election win and the protection of the Beeliar Wetlands.
The future of the DADAA building at Beach Street opposite the East Street Jetty will not be known for at least half a year if the FPOL Committee of the City of Fremantle decides this Wednesday to allow an ‘Eldership’ of Noongar people to explore options for an Aboriginal cultural centre there that would replace the unsuccessful Walyalup centre at Arthur’s Head.
The agenda item seeks Council’s consideration to support a process by a local group of Noongar Elders to develop a proposal to enable them to be in a position to seek access via a lease to the 21 Beach Street, Fremantle site for their purposes.
It is proposed that the ‘Eldership’ be given adequate time by delaying an Expression of Interest process for the lease of the building for a period of up to six months and that the local group be empowered to undertake any necessary community engagement and work to develop a proposal for consideration.
City officers recommend that up to $20,000 be made available to the group to support that process, including for the use of consultants or resources that may be required.
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!
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 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!
The Gyuto Monks of Tibet had the official opening of their stay in Fremantle at the Townhall last night with inspiring and soul moving chanting and the start of a sand Mandala.
Noongar elder Richard Walley gave a welcome to country.
It is always special when the monks are in town even when one isn’t a Buddhist.
They will be here for over a week so check out the program on the Facebook page, or scroll down on this blog to “older posts” and find out what is on.
The ruling by the WA Planning Commission against a tavern and live outdoor music venue at J Shed should encourage the City of Fremantle and the local community to come together and find better ways of activating Arthur Head, as the changes made by the City have not been successful.
There have been very good ideas talked about for many years, so maybe it is time to listen to the resident artists at J Shed, the volunteer heritage guides at the Roundhouse and local residents.
One impressive way would be to extend the boardwalk from Kidogo Arthouse, the former kerosene store, to J Shed and create a historic walk with significant heritage signs about the whaling station, limestone quarry and Mews fishing industry, and link it with the Maritime Museum and the harbour where thousands of migrants arrived by ship. This would also make the connection from the present port to the historic long jetty ‘port’ just south of Kidogo.
Add to that a sculpture park and small children’s playground in front of J Shed and make the No 1 studio a cafe and art gallery with function availability for weddings, etc. A small alfresco deck to watch the Indian Ocean will no doubt attract locals and tourists alike.
It should also be contemplated if it is a viable move to relocate the Walyalup Aboriginal Cultural Centre, but it would need to have a tourism priority with music and dancing for cruise ship passengers and the sale of Aboriginal art and craft and maybe even bushtucker.
When we talk about activating the area we should keep in mind that already 120,000 people a year come to visit the Roundhouse, so we need to offer them something else so they’ll linger longer. A combination of history and art, plus a small hospitality outlet will no doubt help the activation.
The Roundhouse guides are also in the process of getting all new modern, interactive interpretive displays in the cells and power will be connected to the oldest public building in the state. That will create the opportunity of doing special night events and tours during the warmer months. That would help to activate the ghost town Arthur Head is at night at present and stop homeless people from invading the old Pilots Cottages.
The Pilots Cottages need another form of activation as the present occupants do very little to attract visitors to the area with their abstract paintings, so maybe it is time to let go off the art precinct idea up at Captain’s Lane and make it more of a tourist shopping destination, selling Freo T-shirts, craft, art and souvenirs, but ideally there should be 24/7 activity that discourages anti social behaviour at Arthur Head. The Glen Cowans underwater photo gallery is a highly visible and professional presence next to the Roundhouse and should be emulated to achieve high quality offerings to tourists and local Fremantle people.
I also still believe a Saturday morning art and craft market in front of J Shed would attract a lot of people, so let’s have a public debate about this, listen, learn, collaborate, create, and make Arthur Head THE go to part of Fremantle for visitors and locals. Together we can do it!
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!