Freo's View

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

SLEEP OUT UNDER THE FREMANTLE STARS

 

May 5 Sleep uner the Stars

Only a week to go until the Sleep Out Under The Stars fundraiser for homeless people will be held at the University of Notre Dame in Fremantle on May 5.

The great people from St Patrick’s yearly organise this event that is well worth participating in. Contrary to the plight of those forced to sleep on the streets the event is a bit of fun with live music, activities for children, etc.

It costs only $ 25 for adults, $ 10 for kids and $ 15 concessions, or a family $ 60.

Roel Loopers

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IMAGES OF INDIA FREO FUNDRAISER

Posted in art, bathers beach art precinct, city of fremantle, photography, Uncategorized by freoview on March 16, 2018

 

 

OPENS TONIGHT!

Images of India is a fundraising exhibition by local photographer Juliet Murray.

The exhibition opens on Friday 16th March at 6.30pm at the Art of Freo Gallery at J Shed and runs Wednesday to Sunday 11-4pm until March 25th.  There will also be a fundraising raffle with heaps of great prizes.

India is a land of contrasts. It is a country that is immensely rich; in culture, spirituality and diversity. It is enchanting and beautiful place, overwhelming to the senses.

On the flipside, poverty is significant, with one on 5 living in extreme poverty, without access to basic human needs. Of the poor, only 20% have access to toilets, 60% to electricity and 6% to running water.

This fundraising exhibition aims to capture both the magnificence of this sacred country and it’s people whilst highlighting the issue of extreme poverty and struggles that the people face, in a compassionate and sensitive manner.

Proceeds from the exhibition will be donated to the Australian Friends of Asha, who work to support and raise awareness of the important work that is done by Asha India in tackling issues that keep slum dwellers trapped in poverty. Their programmes help slum residents gain access to healthcare, financial services and education, and make it possible for them to make long-term, positive changes to their lives.

http://www.australianfriendsofashaslums.org.au/

 

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MUSICIANS FOR MALAWI AT FLY BY NIGHT

Posted in charity, children, education, fly by night club, fremantle, Uncategorized by freoview on July 29, 2017

 

In 2015, Nola Formentin sold everything she owned in Fremantle and moved to Malawi in SE Africa. After an initial six months volunteering with an NGO, she was offered a job teaching music, swimming, art and environmental issues at a primary school near the city of Blantyre.

Nola now ants to raise money for Malawi at the Musicians for Malawi concert to be held at Victoria Hall on Saturday 5 August. Doors open 7pm and the night is run by The Fly By Night Musicians Club.

Headlining the evening will be Opera Australia’s Baritone Jose Carbo accompanied by David Wickham, supported by local opera singers Alexandra Bak, Jenna Robertson, Kelly Robertson, Helen Brown and Alessia Pintabona. The night then turns contemporary, with upcoming singer/songwriter Synaed Roche and The David Hyams Trio. Then finally, local country blues band The Suntones will have everyone dancing the night out! All artists are donating their time and talents for the evening. There will even be food available at the club. All proceeds go to Nola’s causes.

There are many NGOs around Blantyre in the south of Malawi. Nola has visited some that have touched her heart and she hopes to find donations to help them on their way. These include Morning Star JS Ministries, a locally run organisation that provides a safe and caring place for young men to gather and learn life skills.

They run a soccer team and need funding for uniforms and equipment, as well as rent for the clubhouse. The Jacaranda Foundation is an incredible school run solely for children affected by HIV/AIDS and has fostered some amazing talent both musically and artistically, sending students to summer schools in USA and Europe. The Fatima Centre is a small orphanage run by a retired English couple, fostering 25 orphans from their local village.

All these organisations are run entirely on donations and Nola would like to invite you to help her raise money to support these wonderful schools, which in turn will help educate and nurture these special children.

 

Tickets are available at www.flybynight.org or phone 9430 5208

Musicians for Malawi
Saturday 5 August
Doors open 7pm
Fly By Night Musicians Club
Victoria Hall 179 High St Fremantle

STARLIGHT HOTEL CHOIR FIGHTS POVERTY

Posted in fremantle, homelessness, western australia by freoview on August 24, 2016

oxjam

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AUSTRALIA LACKS TRUE LEADERSHIP

Posted in australia, fremantle, politics by freoview on July 26, 2015

Is it time for an independent political party in Australia, a truly balanced party that has values and morals and where elected members always have a conscious vote instead of having to vote along party lines?

Many Australians are very disappointed with the major parties. Cynicism about politicians and their egos, arrogance and power lust is increasing daily.

The lack of balance and only wanting to rubbish whatever the opposition parties are proposing is a mind-blowing show of narrow-mindedness and lack of intelligence.

Politicians are not interested what is best for our country, or state, they only want to get into or remain in power at all cost. Any values they or their party might have had in the past have all but disappeared in the greedy grab for power.

The gap between the rich and the poor is getting bigger and those who need society’s support most are being ignored more and more because our politicians look for the lowest denominator when it comes to increasing their popularity. It is much easier to dismiss those irrelevant minority groups, the narcissistic disabled, the always complaining aged and those nasty lazy dole bludgers, than to actually get millionaires pay tax.

Racism is yet again increasing in Australia because of a severe lack of leadership by those who take more and more freedom away from us under the guise of wanting to protect us from all those foreign nasties. Our Christian politicians are happy to implement inhumane laws and policies because they don’t care about people and compassion.

Our leaders are building monuments to show their greatness instead of shelters for the homeless and the poor. There is always money in the budget for impressive projects but less and less for education, health, social services and science.

There are millions of dollars available for a pedestrian bridge to a new and expensive football stadium but not to replace the dodgy Fremantle railway bridge.

I have long given up believing in what the leaders of the Labor or Liberal party promise because all they do is try to win votes at the next election so their hunger for power gets satisfied. I no longer believe that Bill Shorten would be a better leader than the disgraceful Tony Abbott is or that Mark McGowan would to a better job than the arrogant Colin Barnett, and it pisses me off that there are no alternatives and that my vote will be wasted again at one of the next elections, because there are no true leaders with true values who actually care. That is so frustrating and disappointing!

Roel Loopers

WE NEED TO GET HOUSING BALANCE RIGHT

Posted in fremantle, housing, poverty by freoview on June 8, 2015

poverty

There has been a lot of focus in the (social)media lately about housing affordability with Fremantle Greens senator Scott Ludlam calling for an end to negative gearing, and one of the leading Australian economists, Saul Estlake of the Bank of America Merryl Lynch, saying that house prices cause social and economic harm in Australia.

Fremantle Mayor Brad Pettitt has kept us regularly updated on his blog about housing in some of Europe’s most liveable cities and it is interesting to note that the City of Berlin has put a ceiling on rents, while other cities monitor and refuse to accept the sale of over-priced residential properties and force owners to lower prices. I know that will sound a bit too socialist to most of us in Australia, but Germany is governed by the conservatives, so that makes it even more remarkable.

The fundamental principle of Germany, one of the leading economies in the world, is to keep housing costs stable and affordable and that is partly done by regular release of more land.

Residential property and rental prices affect a huge number of people in Australia and I was amazed to see this morning that wealthy Australia shamefully ranks tenth on the list of nations with people living under the poverty line, a staggering 14 per cent in ‘the best country on earth’.

Roel Loopers

LET’S NOT MAKE FREO YUPPY CENTRAL

Posted in city of fremantle by freoview on November 20, 2014

The battle to accommodate low-income people is not getting any easier with Garry Ellender, CEO of Access Housing, claiming in the Fremantle Gazette that house prices in Fremantle are comparable to those in Sydney and affordability is a major concern for Freo.

Access Housing is a not-for-profit organisation and Ellender told the Gazette that “suburbs like Fremantle were not affordable for low to moderate-income earners.”

Apartments in Fremantle are on average costing $ 80,000 more than apartments in the Perth metro area and the median house price in the port city is now $ 800,000.

Unfortunately the City of Fremantle is on a downward trend as far as the mandatory requirement for affordable housing in new residential development goes, with Fremantle Council next week deciding if they should lower the mandatory 15 per cent to only 10 per cent because the 15 per cent is not commercially attractive for developers.

Garry Ellender however does not believe COF should lower the mandatory 15 per cent of affordable housing apartments, but instead urges developers to be more creative and innovative with their design.

Fremantle has always prided itself on its mixed-income multicultural population and lifestyle that can be enjoyed by workers and artists, yuppies and seniors, abled and disabled, rich and poor, and it would be a real shame if Fremantle became a city for middle to high income earners only, because eclectic diversity is what makes our city interesting and unique.

While I agree with those who write comments to say that affordable housing does not have to be in the very best locations, I warn against creating low-income out of sight ghettos away from participation and lifestyle, because developers don’t want to lower the quality of residents in their posh apartment blocks. As a society we do have a civic duty to look after those who are-often without their own fault-not well off.

Homeless people are increasingly becoming a problem in Fremantle and are invading properties at Arthur Head, sleep at Victoria Quay, the Post Office, Bathers Beach, Princess May Park, in doorways, etc. and we need to do much better looking after those people as well.

Roel Loopers

NO VISIONARIES IN MODERN POLITICS

Posted in fremantle, politics, visonnary by freoview on October 24, 2014

The death of iconic Australian politician Gough Whitlam made me wonder what leadership is and if visionary politicians still exist in Australia. Vision in modern politics appears to be dependent on opinion polls and that has created boring sameness in the political landscape, to the point where we almost have a political desert where no new trees are being planted for the future. People are leaving political parties in droves and it is hard to engage younger people in the political process because they are disillusioned with what is going on.

We have become very cynical about our federal, state and local governments and there is little trust. We do not see politicians as an extension of our communities, because there is an us and them attitude on both sides. Do politicians still represent their electorate and do they really speak for us and want the best for Australia, Western Australia, or Fremantle, or is it about feeding their own egos?

As an older person who is quite engaged in local politics I often feel my views are no longer being taken into account, but I am even more concerned that younger people don’t engage in the process, because they should let us know what kind of Freo and society they want in the future.

When I hear the many ‘visions’ of Fremantle Council I wonder if they lack the reality to deal with the fact that we have a rapidly growing ageing population in Australia. That seems to be ignored because we have a Council hell bend on telling people to hop on their bikes, get out of their cars, and don’t expect parking bays if you want to live in Freo’s CBD. That to me is discriminatory against older people because they often don’t have the fitness or courage to ride bikes or even use public transport after certain hours of the day. No car bay dwellings also ignore the needs of families who have to get their children to sporting and social events, and public transport just does not stack up to provide that sufficiently on weekends especially.

The two major visions for Fremantle in recent times were Council being pro-active on the council amalgamations and the, in my opinion slightly flawed, Economic Development Strategy.

Good vision to me is about inclusiveness. It is not about alienating some groups in our society and it is not about narrow-minded and one-eyed philosophy. Visionaries don’t create an us versus them political environment but inspire people to come on the journey with them. Leaders should inspire us to take ownership and be part of the solution, but sadly that rarely happens. People like Gough Whitlam, Paul Keating and Bob Hawke all were very controversial, but they had something Kim Beazley, Kevin Rudd and Julia Gillard never had, and I don’t believe John Howard and Tony Abbott had it either. Charisma, inspiration and vision are lacking in modern day politics.

In local politics visions needs to be created through real community engagement and it has to be a broad and integrated vision with many outcome targets. The implementation has to be done realistically, providing for new needs before getting rid of old ones, e.g. we should not reduce CBD parking bays before we have provide new periphery parking spaces, and while providing Youth Plaza and things to do for younger people, it is essential to also plan for a very fast ageing population. To tell us all to hop on our bikes and leave the car at home is naïve and inconsiderate to those who don’t have the fitness or courage to do so.

Vision is about looking after the entire community, not just a select small part of it. The amalgamation outcome has shown that if we do have a vision and argue our points strongly we can achieve better outcomes for all. We need to learn from that and collaborate more intensely and intently.

Roel Loopers

LIFE-CHANGING FREMANTLE SOCIAL HOUSING PROJECT

Posted in fremantle by freoview on September 26, 2014

hampton 100 1

It was a very uplifting experience to listen to Rebecca Eggleston and Rebecca Clarkson from project manager FORM  last eve at the Fremantle Network function at Clancys. The ladies talked about the Fremantle 100 Hampton Road social housing project.

This is not simply about providing accommodation for those in need but also about supporting them with social and life-skill issues.

100 Hampton is a 190-bed lodging house where residents receive a single room and shared kitchen, bathroom and laundry facilities for 25% of their income.

But what FORM creates is also a safe environment with cooking, furniture-making, bike repair classes, and on Wednesdays it is shared-lunch day.

100 Hampton is about taking the paranoia out of the neighbourhood by trying to be better neighbours, and communicate and collaborate with those who live around them.

They create recreational opportunities for the residents and support them. They also make cheap living much more enjoyable with great art murals, beautification of the building and a social room to share and receive visitors.

As the Rebeccas said, more housing like this will be needed in the future.

I believe it is so important to give people self-worth and make them feel good about how and where they live and this project appears to tick all the positive and life-changing boxes. Well done!

Roel Loopers

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