This is something new for my Blog, I have a piece written by a Senior citizen of Fremantle, this looks at what services they have lost over the years from council and explains why she belives that some people feared, merging or amalgamating with Fremantle. So its the first letter to the editor. Have a read, the lady makes some damn good points.
So here it is unedited.
“Well, the amalgamation/ merger of the councils for the moment seems to be off the table but have no fear there will be many shenanigans going on behind the scenes by those who feel they have missed out. So let us just look at where we are: of the 3 councils that voted against the merger, East Fremantle would have been totally taken over by Fremantle and the second, Cockburn would have lost some major community facilities to Fremantle.
Personally I feel Fremantle has lost out because the people in those areas clearly have an understanding of our Council that many in Fremantle are blind to. Maybe we have lost some good fighters.
Never-the-less the people in these areas clearly understand what they would be losing in a merger with Fremantle, as our Mayor Brad Petit kindly outlined in his full page advertisement. I will comment on one of these.
Loss of Services and facilities. In the time I have been following this, I have seen many of our facilities disappear. To quote a councillor “we are not in the business of providing community services”. One obvious case was the loss to the Stan Reilly Centre which was instigated by the then Fremantle Seniors’ group. It provided accommodation and a social centre. Meals on wheels operated out of the building. There were weekly (and more) dances. Local older citizens could go there after a visit to the hospital or shopping and have a meal and catch up with friends in a very friendly atmosphere.
This was closed 7 – 8 years ago in order we were told to make way for a Dockers facility. As we know that didn’t happen and it was left locked up to ratepayers and we were told it was not ”suitable“ for residency. Never the less as we know the Dockers fell through and the facilities have been occupied by the homeless by St Patrick’s Community care. In the meantime the Stan Reilly Centre is still occupied by the homeless, who no doubt have needs but not at the price of dislocating, disinheriting and ignoring our actual Senior Ratepayers and residents.
The original residents of the centre were sent out to the “Boon docks” as my Canadian friend called it. Another quote from a councillor (maybe the same one) at that time (2010) was “the Chamber of Commerce doesn’t want old people wandering Fremantle because they don’t buy anything”.
The seniors were given the One Stop Shop in the Council building facing onto the street. I do suggest people take a look at the size and facilities provided. When a sign was put up above the One Stop Shop it said “for the over 55’s and wider community”. It is operated by volunteers and one staff member, and has activities for the community. Any meetings are run by the staff member who tends to veto suggestions that do not meet the Council’s vision (ie , not what the citizens want or need). When I was there we were treated like children and unable to make our decisions. For a while now it has offered free cups of tea of coffee and biscuits for visitors. As it is by the Town Square it is not surprising the sorts of people that visit, some sitting for hours on a seat, clearly putting off any genuine older person from entering or visiting. Because it is for the “wider community”, volunteers have difficulty stopping anyone coming in.
We did have Chinese language lessons, in the next room to a choir practising and the noise of the square made hearing the sounds impossible. The person running it is very keen to pursue this but a suitable space has not been found.
In the afternoon the sunshine pours in. There seems to be no air conditioning, and if there is, it can’t function as the door to the square has to be left wide open summer and winter so that it is welcoming to visitors. Finally this year two small fans have been provided.
Also, when I asked for an alarm button for the office none was seen suitable. We were given the numbers of the security officers. When someone did call the police they were reprimanded.
In addition to this, and despite frequent representation, no alternative site has been found. But then last year a building was sold (for less than it’s worth). This was once the South Metro Youth Centre. But has been empty for a while and was once a recreation centre.
So, this is an example of how Fremantle treats its older citizens. You may be like me when I was 65 never imagining I would go to a seniors’ centre. It took a while but it was the older seniors who have convinced me of the need. I worked at the One Stop Shop with an older lady and her continuous questioning roused my interest.
So Hamilton Hill, Spearwood and East Fremantle citizens you have done the right thing. It is not only the elderly, but also the Youth Crisis Centre and the Women’s refuge and other facilities that have suffered the threat of closing.”