DADAA’s digs popular

FREMANTLE council is to look into moving its Aboriginal cultural centre to the DADAA building beside the Swan River.

DADAA is relocating to the old FTI building on Adelaide Street in July and disability employment service Bizlink and Autism West have been angling to move into its old HQ, which sits under the shadow of the old Freo Traffic Bridge on Beach Street.

The two services will lose their current homes in Queensgate when the redevelopment of Kings Square begins in earnest in May. But after making their pitch to the council’s finance and policy committee on Wednesday, they got a curve ball from Cr Rachel Pemberton who wants council to hold off searching for a new tenant in case there’s support for moving the Walyalup Aboriginal Cultural Centre there.

The cultural centre is in Captains Lane near the Round House, but Cr Pemberton says it was always seen as an interim solution because the tiny house has no exhibition space, is on a steep hill that’s difficult for the elderly to climb, and is in a precinct with infamous historical significance for some Aboriginal people. It was a stop-off point for Aboriginal people being sent to prison on Rottnest Island in the early days of the Swan Colony, and many would never return after succumbing to the island’s brutal regime.

“Beach Street would be a good fit and they are planning to run a CAT bus to the jetty soon,” Cr Pemberton says.

“We have proper facilities for other community groups like the Italian Club, and if we are serious about our reconciliation action plan, this would be a move in the right direction.

“An aboriginal centre should be connected to nature and this is beside the river and makes more sense.”

The news came as a bombshell to Autism West CEO Alison Davis and Bizlink’s Trevor Paterson, who had just made pitches to the chamber for their not-for-profits to move into the riverside property.

Bizlink boss Trevor Paterson says they’ve got 180 clients and most are from Fremantle, so he’s keen to stay in the area. With Autism West CEO Alison Davis they indicated they’d be up to sharing the DADAA building with other tenants.

Council officers reckon the riverside building should bring in $16,000 in rent a year from non-profit groups.

by STEPHEN POLLOCK

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