Aboriginal Culture on the Swan?

image by koolangkaskreate.com

image by koolangkaskreate.com

Last month, the Fremantle Council voted to fund a feasibility study into hosting WA’s premier Aboriginal Cultural Centre at South Quay in Fremantle.

The feasibility study will include consultation with Aboriginal community, elders, Traditional Owners and organisations.

We see great potential for an iconic multi-functional facility that shares and celebrates Aboriginal culture in Fremantle. The future facility could include:

  • Galleries, exhibition space, theatre and performing arts space, lecture theatres and learning spaces
  • Offices and facilities for local aboriginal tourism and cultural businesses
  • Partnership with local universities to be a world class centre for Indigenous studies and attract national and international conferences and events
  • Includes static displays, interactive media displays, and new media such as virtual reality to showcase Aboriginal art, culture and history to visitors and locals
  • Showcases and shares Aboriginal history culture from other Aboriginal groups throughout WA, linking to regional cultural centres
  • Invite touring exhibitions from other parts of Australia and the world
  • A changing program of activities and events that encourage engagement, learning and sharing
  • Emphasis on interaction
  • Outdoor areas that connect with nature and the sacred Derbal Yerrigan

The proposed location, on South Quay in Fremantle, is in the vicinity where Captain Fremantle first landed in Western Australia to colonize WA.

When I spoke to local elders about the idea, Noel Nannup said “It seems appropriate that reconciliation could radiate out and spread from the same site where colonization did”. Richard Walley referred to Fremantle being a potential “Cultural Gateway”.

Locating an Aboriginal Cultural Centre on South Quay would mean that it is adjacent to the Cruise ship terminal, providing easy access for passengers. It also has good public transport connectivity.

Fremantle is a significant metropolitan centre for arts, culture, festivals and events. This would further capitalize of that local strength and character and allow us to grow the education and tourism component of our local economy.

I understand that a permanent home for Aboriginal Art collections is being sought and we would welcome the opportunity to host it in Fremantle!

The City of Fremantle is working hard to create new local jobs and industry. An Aboriginal Cultural Centre could contribute significantly to that, as such, the Council has invested $30,000 in a feasibility study and community engagement on the proposal.

Recent community engagement with Aboriginal locals found that the Walyalup Aboriginal Cultural Centre is not in a suitable location and is not resourced well enough to really meet the needs or aspirations of the community. This new proposal is ambitious, but will address these issues.

This idea was first flagged in an article I wrote about my vision for South Quay based on my experience visiting the redevelopment of Copenhagen’s waterfront, I’m so pleased this is now making progress!