Awards for Freo's top citizens

Fremantle Citizen of the Year award winners (from left) Betty Garlett, Heidi Mippy, Kiera Bryan and Amy Warne from Hilton Harvest Community Garden and Alice Ford with State Fremantle MP Simone McGurk, Federal Fremantle MP Josh Wilson, Deputy Mayor Andrew Sullivan and Mayor Brad Pettitt.

An advocate striving to create greater opportunities for Aboriginal families in the Fremantle area has been named Fremantle’s Citizen of the Year.

Heidi Mippy has worked as a youth worker, police officer, child protection worker and in many other roles before focusing on establishing the Djidi Djidi Girls Academy at Fremantle College.

Heidi was announced as Citizen of the Year at the City of Fremantle’s Citizenship Ceremony and Citizen of the Year awards today (Sunday, 26 January).

As a director of the Djidi Djidi Aboriginal Women’s Corporation, Ms Mippy volunteers her time helping to develop better relationships between families in need and support agencies.

She also sits on Fremantle College school board as a community representative.

Nyoongar Elder Betty Garlett was named Fremantle’s Senior Citizen of the Year.

Ms Garlett is a member of the City of Fremantle’s Walyalup Reconciliation Reference Group, the Board of Management of Fremantle Women’s Health Care and the Silver Chain Community Advisory Group.

She has also been active in community engagement for the City of Fremantle’s Age Friendly City Plan 2019-24.

Fremantle’s Young Citizen of the Year was artist Alice Ford, who has painted two murals in North Fremantle.

Ms Ford has completed commissioned works for local businesses, bands and artists including Spacey Jane, as well as assisting in running art classes for young students.

The Active Citizenship Award was won by Hilton Harvest Community Garden, which on a weekly basis has dozens of volunteers who come together to garden, work in the new nursery, exercise and build community spirit.

The Citizen of the Year recipients embodied the qualities that make Fremantle such a special community.

Every day around Freo I see generous and passionate people sacrificing their time and effort to support our community. The Citizen of the Year awards recognise and celebrate active citizenship and significant contributions to the life of our community.

It’s an honour and a privilege to be able to recognise their contributions and celebrate their achievements through these awards.

One Day, a very special day

Saturday’s One Day in Fremantle was once again a very special day in which we came together as a community in a way that I hope will resonate far into the future. 

The day started at 8am with a powerful smoking ceremony on Bathers Beach conducted by Noongar Elders and flowed into a fun and diverse day of family activities.

The event finished with a fire-lighting ceremony in front of Kidogo.

Very big thanks everyone involved for supporting Fremantle on this ground breaking journey we are all on together.

On that note I was struck by a powerful and articulate speech that young Whadjuk Noongar, English and Irish man Ezra Jacobs-Smith gave at the Smoking Ceremony and he has kindly agreed to let me share it with you all:

Yaanbaa noonooka alidja

Ngany kwerl Ezra Jacobs-Smith

Ngan Whadjuk Noongar, English wer Irish maaman.

Ngan djeripiny nidja wangka noonooka.

Ngan kaaditj ngallaka yakin wer nyinning nidja Whadjuk boodja.

Nidja boodja ngan koora koora mort boodja.

Ngan kaaditj demangamanga nyinning nidja, noonooka bridiya maaman wer yok nidja boodja.

Ngan kaaditj ngany ngank, ngan koort djurip noonooka.

Ngan Whadjuk maaman ngan ngoongan djinang arn nidja boodja wer ngany boorangur, ngan koorliny djina demangamanga.

Koodjulba, ngankba ngarbiriak, ngan kadijt noonooka bridiya Whadjuk boodja.

Noonook yuat kool nidja yay wer walbaring ngallaka.

Walbaring ngallaka wirin.

Walbaring ngallaka wirin ngallaka djeripiny yay danjoo koorliny nidja boodja

Hello you there.

My name is Ezra Jacobs-Smith. I’m a Whadjuk Noongar, English and Irish man. I’m happy to be here speaking to you.

Today we are standing and sitting on Whadjuk Noongar country. This is my ancestors’ land. I acknowledge my grandmothers and grandfathers sitting in front of us and I pay my respects to you as the boss men and women of this country. I also acknowledge my mother whom I love dearly.

As a Whadjuk man I’m responsible for looking after this land and its totems, and in doing so I’m walking in the footsteps of my old people and continuing our role as the carers of everything.

I also acknowledge the Great Spirit of this land and pay my respects to it. I ask the Great Spirit to come and be with us today and bless us. Bless our spirits so that we may be happy in ourselves and respectful to each other as we walk this land together.

I’ve been speaking at these gatherings since they started in 2017 with the cleansing of the Round House and the first significant change of the date event, One Day.

That was an extremely significant moment in our local history, as a point in time that Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal community came together with the City of Fremantle to acknowledge the wrongs of our past and embark on a journey of truth telling, healing and reconciliation together.

I’d like to thank all those who have worked hard behind the scenes to create this space for us to share.  Thanks to all the Elders and Noongar moort who are working hard to empower our mob and keep our culture alive.

Thanks to all the staff at the City of Fremantle: Beverly, Brendan and Aimee to name just a few. I also commend the Council of the City of Fremantle and Mayor Brad Pettitt for your leadership and compassion in that initial act of changing the date, but more so for staying the course.

Even though we have almost 200 years of shared history in this place, in many ways our journey towards a better future has just begun. I’m proud to be here with you all again today as we take another step in that journey.

This smoking ceremony offers us a chance to come together and cleanse ourselves as individuals, but also the place that we meet, of any bad energy or spirits. During this smoking ceremony we are connecting ourselves to the web of life, to the country we live on and we are setting the tone for the day or a conscious intention for how we will act and interact with one another.

Today has become a day in our annual calendar where we come together to commemorate, to mourn but also to celebrate.

In the name of truth telling and commemoration, let this be a day that we seek to understand all truths of our history, that we look for the common ground as opposed to difference and that we let compassion drive our actions and intentions.

One thing that all people in the world have in common is that we all seek to be happy and free from suffering. Compassion, as opposed to empathy, is an empowered state where we empathise with others’ suffering but we move through empathy to a more active state of wishing and even taking action to alleviate others suffering.

With so much suffering in the world today it’s easy to fall into a state of endless empathy or, even worse, apathy. Unchecked empathy or emotional resonance can cause fatigue, burn out and disconnection – reactions that are normal human self-preservation mechanisms. But compassion offers us a way of staying connected to others and their suffering so that we do not burn and can continue to work towards alleviating the issues.

Colonisation has affected all of us – both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal.

Consider for a second the impact of the first fleet – although I do not mean to subjugate the impacts faced by any other group who may have immigrated to Australia after the first fleet arrived.

My Noongar moort and I mourn for our ancestors who lost their lives and countries and this trauma has been exacerbated by all impacts we have seen since the arrival of British colonialists – from the dispossession and theft of land, the masacres and conflicts, the deaths in custody, stolen generations, complete control and administration of every aspect of our lives – to the impacts on the environment that causes us an equal amount of trauma including extinctions, environmental degradation and more recently the global impacts of human-induced climate change.

Many of these impacts have resulted from a shift of caring for country to caring for money at the expense of all else – this is what conisation has brought us.

I’m not highlighting these issues to induce a sence of guilt for our non-Aboriginal brothers and sisters here today, I’m merely pointing out the facts and unresolved issues that continue to cause Aboriginal people suffering and hold us back from fully engaging in mutually beneficial relationship with each other.

Now to the other side of my heritage. For my English and Irish family and I, today is a day for us also to mourn.

Consider the tragic circumstances that our European ancestors were subject to in England and which led to the mass transportation of convicts and slaves to Australia in the First Fleet. Their freedom was stolen by a system driven by capitalism and greed that allowed the aristocracy to subjugate other humans to lives of poverty, famine and subservience. The convicts were sent to a foriegn country as a measure to eradicate the ‘problem’ from England and to serve as a slave labour force for establishing the new colony – soon to be joined by their Aboriginal brothers and sisters.

Many of them were subject to this treatment as a result of minor crimes committed as a desperate act to survive in a dog-eat-dog world, such as stealing food – never to return home again to their families and country.

As my Aunty and mum Narelda Jacobs said recently in an article she wrote on changing the date; the arrival of the first fleet represents the very worst of our human history and does not reflect the multicultural and harmonious society we have today.

That said, today is also a day of celebration. We celebrate the fact that Aboriginal people and the convicts and slaves transported here in the first fleet have survived against all odds. We celebrate the strength and resilience of our old people who fought hard to create the society we live in today, both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal. We celebrate the fact that one of the world’s oldest cultures and knowledge systems is still alive and available to us – if we so choose to engage with it. We celebrate that we live in a country who’s ancient Aboriginal history boasts environmental sustainability and social harmony across 60,000+ years – an incomprehensible scale of time but also a consistency across an entire continent that has not been seen anywhere else in the world.

In her article my aunty and Mum Narelda Jacobs talks about the opportunity changing the date might create for us and our communities. She said that this day should be used by us to set our intentions for the year ahead and I agree with her.

I would like to take this opportunity to ask everyone here to set an intention for yourself and a collective intention for us as a nation today, and further to set an intention for the year 2020.

My hope for today is that each of us can interact respectfully with one another, regardless of our cultural backgrounds or beliefs. I ask each of you to allow the smoke to take away any preconceived ideas we may be holding towards each other. That we walk into the event with an open heart and mind to new opportunities and relationships. That we interact compassionately with each other – knowing that we all seek to be happy and free from suffering.

Karla Hart on Australia and One Day

There was a wonderful final paragraph to Noongar film-maker Karla Hart’s articulate opinion piece in The West on Friday that I thought it worth sharing as we head into Another One Day in Freo:

” I have never felt patriotic on Australia Day. The only time I felt happy celebrating and for the first time realised what it felt like was when Fremantle changed their date and had their first One Day. It was euphoric and so new to me. It’s just a date but it’s a step towards the truth, towards acknowledging there was people here first and towards making things right”.  Karla Hart

Why’s WA been Waiting Awhile on Renewable Energy Investment?

Here is an article JBA’s Mark Taylor and I pulled together and recently updated on why WA is lagging in renewable energy investment and the further costs if this isn’t turned around.

It just came out in Renew Economy this week

Fremantle Council donates $10,000 for bushfire relief

Fremantle Council has approved the donation of $10,000 to assist communities affected by the devastating bushfires across the country.

Last night the council’s Finance, Policy, Operations and Legislation committee approved the donation to the Freo Fire Fund.

The committee also approved the donation of any net surplus revenue from the two Fire Aid benefit concerts to be held at Fremantle Arts Centre later this month, and also offer in-kind support like free venue hire and public liability insurance cover to other fundraising events in Fremantle.

The council is pleased to be supporting the bushfire relief effort.

The fires have caused so much destruction right across the country, but the response to them from the community and the outpouring of support for the people affected has been quite extraordinary/

It’s great that the council is able to make its contribution to the Freo Fire Fund on behalf of all the residents and ratepayers of Fremantle, and also support the efforts of so many people who are staging their own events to raise funds for bushfire relief.”

The Freo Fire Fund was set up earlier this month by a group of Fremantle community members who came together to collaborate, share skills and resources and raise money to help fire-affected communities.

The fund is held by the Fremantle Foundation as a separate Named Fund, and will direct the money raised to a number of different organisations involved in the bushfire relief effort including Australian Red Cross, Foodbank and the Australian Wildlife Conservancy.

As of Monday morning the fund had raised $12,106, with another four fundraising events held so far this week.

The Freo Fire Fund Skate Jam held at the Esplanade Youth Plaza on Friday night was attended by around 500 people raised more than $3000.

The City of Fremantle’s One Day event at Bathers Beach on Saturday will provide another opportunity to donate to the Freo Fire Fund.

The first Fire Aid concert at Fremantle Arts Centre on 31 January – featuring John Butler, The Waifs, San Cisco and Stella Donnelly – sold out in less than an hour. A second concert, with Carla Geneve stepping in for Stella Donnelly, will be held on 1 February.

The Fremantle Foundation was established in 2010 and is now WA’s premier community foundation.

It provides a way for individuals, families, businesses and groups to establish charitable funds, called Named Funds, to support causes they care about.

Fremantle Foundation provides the governance support to run the fund, which is held and managed under the umbrella of the Fremantle Foundation, and also provides social impact advice to help donors make the biggest difference.

To find out more about bushfire fundraising activities, register an event or learn more about the fund visit the Freo Fire Fund website.

The West: “Time to explore new date for Australia Day so all can celebrate”.

There are days when the morning news really surprises you and today was definitely one of those days as The West’s front page and editorial boldly stated: “Time to explore new date for Australia Day so all can celebrate”.

The West has traditionally campaigned for keeping January 26th as our national day and hasn’t been shy in giving Fremantle a hard time for shifting One Day over recent years.

But a recent poll they did has started to show there are growing winds of change. The results of their poll reveal “young people have moved towards embracing a change of date”

The West goes on to say: “as a result it may well be time to explore the idea of changing the date of Australia Day … It could be worth examining the idea of celebrating on a fixed day, rather than date.”

Unsurprisingly I agree and that is why we have for the last four years offered the alternative event One Day that really has a day we can fully engage with this country’s long history in an inclusive way.

This year for the first time One Day will be before January 26. On this Saturday the 25th at 8am One Day will kick off with a smoking ceremony and following a day of dance, music and workshops it will close with the burning of Balga Trees.

I hope to see you there for another special One Day that the rest of the state – in fact the country – is also starting to understand.

One Day to shine spotlight on emerging young talent

Natasha Eldridge, Trent Howard and Indigo Ellis are looking forward to performing at One Day in Fremantle this Saturday.

Some of WA’s best young artists will be showcased during this year’s One Day in Fremantle event on Saturday.

The free, all-day event will commence with a traditional smoking ceremony at Bathers Beach in the morning and conclude with a sunset ceremony featuring the burning of six balga trees, signifying reflection and renewal.

From 11am-4pm the stage will be thrown open to some of WA’s brightest young talent, including 2015/16 WAM Song of the Year winner Beni Bjah, 2018/19 WAM Song of the Year runner-up Joshua Flewnt, 2018/19 WA NAIDOC Music Award Winner Indigo Ellis and emerging rapper Trent Howard.

The program has been put together by Perth singer/songwriter and Abmusic Aboriginal Corporation representative Natasha Eldridge, who will also be taking to the stage with her band Kruize Control.

“I’m so excited about the line-up of young performers we have for One Day in Fremantle and I just can’t wait for everybody to hear and see their amazing talent,” Ms Eldridge said.

“Indigo Ellis is absolutely incredible. Her talent is just phenomenal and you just have to see her live to experience it.

“Trent is a rapper and this will be one of his first on-stage performances so he’s really excited about it.

“He’s got some awesome music and is just writing his own stories and telling the world what he wants to share with them.”

13-year-old Indigo Ellis said she couldn’t wait to perform in front of the One Day crowd at Bathers Beach on Saturday.

“It’s beautiful here and it’s a great opportunity to sing for everyone,” she said.

Rapper Trent Howard said it was an honour to be able to perform at an event that promoted reconciliation and encouraged everyone to come together to celebrate Australia.

“I’m very excited about putting on a good show with some good music,” he said.

“It’s very important because it gives us an opportunity to perform but it also gives the people an opportunity to see what the Aboriginal culture is really about in Australia.”

Beginning with an 8am smoking ceremony at Bathers Beach, One Day will incorporate Aboriginal artwork, music, workshops and food at Kidogo Arthouse and around the grassed area at Bathers Beach.

Activities include boomerang painting, rock mandalas, weaving, an art exhibition, storytelling and poetry readings along with Uluru Statement from the Heart and a number of other information stalls.

Gina Williams and Guy Ghouse, Walyalup Kannajil and Madjitil Moorna choirs will be among many other performers.

The event will culminate with a sunset service including the ceremonial burning of six balga trees carrying a closing message of renewal through dance, story and song.

The free celebration will also serve as a fundraiser for the Australian Bushfire Appeal with attendees encouraged to donate to the Fremantle Foundation’s Freo Fire Fund which has been set up to support affected communities in the wake of the recent devastating bushfires.

For further information, visit