It was standing room only on October 8 for the launch of the Walyalup (Fremantle) activist centre.
The centre, which serves as the local Socialist Alliance branch office and bookshop, will also be available as a meeting and outreach space for local grassroots community groups.
Already the Fremantle Refugee Rights Action Network meets there fortnightly. Soon the office will feature a Nyoongar advocacy service run by local custodian Corina Abraham.
Facing a main street with lots of pedestrian traffic, the office promises to gain a lot of interest from local activists and passersby. It is hoped that in time many grassroots groups will come to use the office space and turn it into a general hub of local progressive action.
This new organising space is an exciting development in local politics, following an encouraging federal election result where the Socialist Alliance doubled its vote for the seat of Fremantle. That electoral campaign, as well as the ongoing community work done by branch members has helped to markedly raise both the profile and support for socialist ideas.
Sam Wainwright, Socialist Alliance member and elected Fremantle City councilor has played a central role in the council’s recent decision to replace its January 26 fireworks show with a ceremony that is culturally respectful to Nyoongar people.
Cancelling the fireworks has invoked a conservative backlash nationally by those bewailing the loss of “tradition” and “inclusive fun”. In fact, the fireworks have only been going for the past eight years.
Local business interests were quick to secure permission for their own fireworks event without engaging with Nyoongar elders to understand why January 26 celebrations are so offensive, nor related issues of mainstream cultural and institutional racism.
Regular public forums and articles in Green Left Weekly can inform the public and build community support.
Including the Nyoongar name for Fremantle, Walyalup, in the name of the centre was a conscious effort to support Nyoongar culture and its custodians. Many in attendance at the office launch were Nyoongar activists, a tribute to the strengthening relationship between Aboriginal fighters and the broader activist community.
In the build up to the WA state election in March, community outreach will be crucial to building the fight back against the Liberal state government’s attacks on workers’ rights and the environment.
Pauline Hanson’s One Nation party is trying to get registered for the state ballot paper, tapping into the major parties’ racism and austerity to push its own divisive agenda — all the more reason to support Socialist Alliance WA’s registration drive, to counter this right-wing spiral and instead fight for people and planet not profit.
Green Left Weekly, which is available for sale alongside a broad range of reading materials from the Walyalup Activist Centre’s Radical Bookshop, is a vital part of the task of sharing information and organising around issues.
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