• The Fremantle Council are considering to add the local Aboriginal name to their suburb. (NITV)Source: NITV
The Freo Dockers will show support for Noongar mob with a motto in traditional lingo for this weekend’s Sir Doug Nicholls Round.
Rangi Hirini

24 May 2019 - 4:03 PM  UPDATED 24 May 2019 - 4:03 PM

The Fremantle Dockers AFL club has jumped on board their local council’s recent proposal to officially add the traditional name for the area alongside the name of the port city, by changing the team’s motto ‘Forever Freo’ to ‘Kalyakoorl Walyalup’ for this weekend’s Indigenous Round game.

In a statement, the club said it would “proudly” use the hashtag #KalyakoorlWalyalup for the 2019 Sir Doug Nicholls Round across all social media platforms, explaining, “It’s our Freo slogan, the Noongar way”. 

The Dockers commenced their week with a dawn smoking service on Monday morning with Noongar elder Richard Walley. Among those in attendance were the club's Indigenous welfare officer and ex-player Michael Johnson and Indigenous board member Collen Hayward. 

The Dockers host the Brisbane Lions at Perth’s Optus Stadium on Sunday and on Thursday the club revealed pre-game ceremonies in recognition of First Nations peoples and culture will include players taking the field alongside Uncle Richard as a didgeridoo is played, the delivery of a Welcome to Country, and an exchange of commemorative boomerangs by Indigenous players from both teams.

Fremantle’s coaching, football and off-field staff will wear a Sorry Day Flower pin. Initially proposed by the Kimberley Stolen Generation Aboriginal Corporation, the five petal flower has a number of different names, Native Cotton, Desert Rose, and Native Hibiscus. The flower is found through Australia and survived through the ages, just like the Stolen Generation. 

The colour also symbolises compassion and spiritual healing. The National Sorry Day Committee has endorsed the pin. Fremantle has been given permission to incorporate the flower into the team’s Indigenous jersey, designed by former Aboriginal player Troy Cook and his childhood friend and designer, Victor Belotti.

The club said it will also welcome Elders and staff from the Kimberley Stolen Generation Aboriginal Corporation, who will travel almost 3,000km south to Perth to be at the game.


On May 13, the Fremantle Council released their draft Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP), which included a proposal to use the alternative name for both the port city Walyalup (Fremantle) and the Derbarl Yerrigan (Swan River).

Fremantle Mayor Brad Pettitt said Western Australia has one of the longest living cultures on the planet and that Aboriginal stories deserve to be shared.

“This is meant to be and should be something that is about bringing Aboriginal culture and Western culture together in a greater understanding and that’s what the whole Reconciliation Action Plan is about,” he said at a media conference on Tuesday. 

The Perth suburb of Fremantle has demonstrated they are one of the country’s leading councils when it comes to reconciliation between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people, in another move of unity the council has previously shifted the celebration of Australia Day away from the contentious date of January 26, which signifies the invasion of Aboriginal lands by the arrival of the British First Fleet in 1788.

Noongar man and Federal Aboriginal Health Minister, Ken Wyatt has also thrown this support behind the name change and encourages the move for all councils across the country.

“I would welcome any local government across this nation doing what Fremantle is proposing to do because the bringing together of two of the nation’s significant cultural groups is important,” Mr Wyatt said ahead of the start of Reconciliation Week. 

But not everyone is on board. WA Premier Mark McGowan recently told ABC Perth he’s a ‘traditionalist’ and thinks the Fremantle name should stand alone. Shadow Local Minister Tony Krsticevic also opposed the name change, saying the change would be confusing for tourists and that there are bigger issues in the suburb to deal with. 

Other Perth councils have said they won't be altering their names, but instead traditional names will be added to street signs and meeting rooms as a way of recognising Western Australia's largest Aboriginal language group.

Community consultation for the dual name proposal is open until May 27.

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