Truth Telling at Manjaree

Around two hundred people turned out to the launch of the City of Fremantle’s Truth Telling program at Manjaree/Bathers Beach on Sunday.

The crowd heard from local Elders, guest speakers, joined weaving circles, went on cultural tours and shared their thoughts on how they’d like to learn about the truth of our shared history.

Other highlights included a smoking ceremony and a seaweed etching of the word TRUTH in the sand.

Whadjuk Nyoongar Elder Gerrard Shaw shared historical stories of the financial exploitation of First Nations people, the removal of children from their families and the women who were sent all over the state to work as servants.

He generously offered to start this process of reconciliation.

“We will never abandon our dream of walking together and we are resolved, once again, to try truth telling as the way we can do this,” Dr Shaw said.

Fremantle Mayor Hannah Fitzhardinge said the event was just the beginning of this part of the City’s indigenous-led journey.

“As a City, we’ve built strong relationships and lasting connections with local Elders and Traditional Owners, which are helping to form the foundation of our work in Truth Telling,” Mayor Fitzhardinge said.

Reconciliation WA CEO Jody Nunn commended the City of Fremantle on its work so far and gave an alternative view of the situation.

“Aboriginal people have been truth telling since colonisation. I wonder if we’ve been truth listening. I think from this point on, truth listening is what we need to talk about,” Ms Nunn said.

Ms Nunn gave an overview of the Winston Churchill Fellowship research that she and Nyoongar woman Robyn Smith-Walley have conducted on Truth Telling in indigenous cultures around the world.

She reminded the audience that it’s important to acknowledge that Wadjemup/Rottnest Island is the largest Aboriginal deaths in custody site in the southern hemisphere.

Here’s a gallery of some of the action last Sunday, taken by Fremantle Shipping News’ Jean Hudson, including of the huge Maersk Shekou container ship arriving in Freo as the ceremony began.

The City of Fremantle is one of an increasing number of local communities who are working together to acknowledge previously untold or unrecognised parts of their local histories.

One of the most important mechanisms for the City’s work in reconciliation is its RAP or Reconciliation Action Plan.

The RAP 2024-27 includes a new pillar on Truth Telling which will guide the City in developing our new programs and initiatives.

The Fremantle community is encouraged to be part of the conversation throughout the year.

Future opportunities to get involved in the Truth Telling program include an expansion of the activities at the Walyalup Aboriginal Cultural Centre in its 10th year; backyard truth telling sessions; exhibitions; yarning circles; story-time and restoring the City’s oral history collections. For more information look here.


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