Freo, we’d love to talk

The City of Fremantle is conducting a review of its Strategic Community Plan and isn’t afraid to tackle the big issues. FREMANTLE MAYOR HANNAH FITZHARDINGE outlines why it’s important to join the conversation.

ONE of the great things about Freo is that everyone – whether they work here, study here, live here or just visit – have strong opinions about our town. And aren’t afraid of sharing them!

For plenty of people, Freo has positive associations – visitors from near and far love our heritage streetscapes and buildings, our distinctive high street shopping experience, the wonders of our galleries and creative spaces and the many fantastic places to eat and drink.

But they’ll also tell you we have our challenges – and these don’t come as a surprise to locals. Not enough people on the streets to create a sense of safety. 

Empty shops. 

The cost of living in Freo and increasing gentrification. 

Artists and the creative economy being priced out of Freo. 

Tourism and the visitor economy is one of our big drivers, but we have a relatively small population – 31,000 residents is not a huge rate base to fund all the facilities required to be a destination city as well as cater for our own residents. 

We are not a capital city, nor are we a regional centre and sometimes we get a bit lost in the middle when it comes to funding from other levels of government.

Are there some big hairy questions when it comes to the future we want for Fremantle? You betcha.

Can we answer them? Certainly Council alone doesn’t have the answers. But thankfully we have a community in Fremantle that never fails to come up with innovative, creative, informed ideas about how we can do things better in our community (and in the world!). 

So Freo, it’s time for some courageous conversations. 

Strategic elephants

We need to look closely at the strategic elephants on our horizon, and work out how we avoid being trampled, or better still, how we can harness them and ride them to a better future! 

The Strategic Community Plan is the mechanism through which we will do that.

Over the next few months, we will be inviting you to be part of a city-wide conversation that probably echoes the type of chats that are happening all over the city right now, in bars and cafes, around the kitchen table, on social media and among neighbours.

The topics for these discussions are deliberately provocative – they don’t necessarily reflect the future reality, instead posing scenarios for discussion. They currently sound a bit like this:

Creative city: Freo is WA’s creative heart, a recognised hub for artists and creatives. How can we stay that way? 

Learning city: Fremantle is a place to learn. How do we build on our unique advantage? How do we ensure our learning pathways and education facilities remain accessible for all?

Living in your local area: What do you define as your local area? If it grows by 20 per cent population over 20 years, what needs to change?

Future of our city centre: What’s unique about our city centre and what do we need to enable it to flourish? 

Climate future: What would an increase in temperature of 2–3 degrees mean for our city? As a community, how do we decrease risk, build resilience and prepare for more extreme weather events?

Jobs for the future: How do we build a competitive and innovative workforce? What skills do we need to drive Fremantle’s future and create job opportunities? 

The ‘Let’s Talk, Freo’ engagement process kicks off initially online this week and will expand into a series of workshops and activities including several large ‘courageous conversation’ events during April and May.

There’s no such thing as too much community involvement in something as important as planning for the future of our city. Please, be part of the conversation!

Find out more at

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