“Every Solution of a Problem Raises New Unsolved Problems” Austrian-British Philosopher

This week I have been focused on the analysis of our 2021 Fremantle Chamber Membership Survey and our Chamber Committees’ strategic planning workshop sessions. There are some strong themes coming out for the Chamber to focus on over the next 12 months, and into the future.

Around 85% of our membership base see really positive opportunities for Fremantle into the future, which is reassuring. However the challenges of anti-social behaviour, a lack of daily foot traffic, transport connections into Fremantle, some structural issues around the built environment, planning and shifts in consumer demand for bricks and mortar retail stand out as significant challenges that we are going to need to work with all of our stakeholders to continue to drive change and find solutions.

I met with Minister Simone McGurk MLA in the wild and stormy weather the Friday before last, and we were discussing the complexity of finding solutions to Fremantle’s issues around anti-social behaviour and aggressiveness of our streets. It is clear that we are not talking about homelessness, we are talking about those on our streets under the influence of drugs and alcohol, those with mental health issues or those who have experienced such significant trauma in their lives that leads them to behave in a way that isn’t socially acceptable.

Like this rather ironic photo sent by a friend during the week of the City of Fremantle’s expectations of our clever pups to work out which side of the park they should be on – finding solutions to anti-social behaviour is about as perplexing as this image. How do we address those loud and aggressive persons let loose on our community who are not committing a crime but making our streets unpleasant and unsettling for our visitors and our businesses?

Risk protocols in community services, civil liberty restrictions and general decency means we can’t pop a leash on them and ask them to play somewhere else. We can however ensure intervention strategies are in place around the root causes of the issues to do with alcohol and drugs (in terms of bottleshop opening hours, sale of packaged liquour and drug and alcohol counselling services), mental health (through local organisations like Alma St) and move on notices if a general disturbance is taking place.

The presence of our police and community safety officers also help considerably but we still have a long way to go to find real solutions to this somewhat unsolvable problem. The reality is though we do need to actually start to do something! Lets start by recording incidents on 131 444 so the records are there for effective resourcing and then continuing conversations to explore solutions.

It is so clear that compassionately managing this issue in the day to day lives of our businesses and their staff is extraordinarily difficult. Hearing first hand some of the stories shared in our inaugural Managing Aggression and Anti-Social Behaviour Training sessions last Friday by our front line staff was distressing to say the least. Why these caring young people are wearing the risks and impact of this issue is something that doesn’t quite seem right.

Our training is designed to help give our local businesses some confidence in knowing what to do and who to call, but over the next 12 months we will be calling for more conversations on what we can do within the constraints of our legal and risk based systems. See below for more details on this.

We are looking forward to hosting Minister Rita Saffioti MLA are at our Leaders Lunch next Friday. We have over 125 business leaders registered to attend the lunch to hear first hand on how future policies will impact on solutions for the southern transport corridor, changes at the Port, state based planning schemes around mixed use definitions and other marine and land infrastructure changes for Fremantle. An incredibly important conversation and one I am proud of hosting.

Other member events to look at over a busy month ahead for the Chamber include our Members Speed Networking Event, the ASIRE North Fremantle property winter warmer event, a Set the Month in Motion Podcast Forum exploring Business and FILM and theFremantle Business Awards 2021*.

* Don’t forget nominations close TOMORROW for the Fremantle Business Awards 2021!!

To read this week’s Chamber Weekly, click here.