FREMANTLE council has taken the first step towards giving the local Aboriginal community its own cultural centre.
On Wednesday the council voted to call for expressions of interest from indigenous groups to run the Walyalup Cultural Centre on Arthur Head, with a staff report recommending ownership be handed over somewhere in the future.
The centre opened two years ago and draws 200 tourists a month. In that time it has also held 120 classes which are organised around the six Noongar seasons and have attracted 2400 people.
“The fireworks got all the headlines, but this is a great move towards true reconciliation in Fremantle,” councillor Dave Hume said before the vote.
Gilmore College indigenous mentor Ashley Collard was right behind the move: “It’s a good idea,” he told the Herald.
A report by Pindi Pindi, the Fremantle-based branch of the Koya Aboriginal Corporation, says the centre will need to make $200,000 each year to be viable.
But there’s a fly in the ointment: Pindi Pindi currently rents out rooms in centre, providing income, but it’s flagged moving out because there’s not enough room for its staff. “Since January there have been 31 people employed, with 27 being Aboriginal,” Pindi Pindi CEO Bryn Roberts says.
“At the moment we have two rooms, we can fit four in each room, it wasn’t large enough really.”
by KORO BROWN