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.