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Jemima Williamson-Wong is a law student. She will be a candidate in local government elections in October 2023 for the Coastal ward of the Council of the City of Fremantle.
I have a deep love for our great city. Freo’s leadership on issues such as sustainability and reconciliation has inspired me to look for areas in which I can make a positive impact.
I am currently a student of Law and Sustainable Development, the State Coordinator for the Australian Youth Climate Coalition, and work at Gage Roads. These experiences have taught me valuable skills in analysing information and understanding how to effect change in various levels of government.
My focus is on enhancing the core values of Freo, to preserve our close-knit community as population grows and climate impacts worsen. I am dedicated to continuing our climate-conscious leadership, support of the arts, and aligning spending with the community’s values.
With the required passion, motivation, and capability, I am dedicated to collaborating towards a thriving future for all. Not aligned with a political party or higher government aspirations, I seek impactful change through effective leverage points.
Steve Grant, Fremantle Herald:
A CANDIDATE in the midst of a double degree in law and sustainability is hoping that nifty combination will be enough to impress new Coastal Ward voters to bring a little youth onto Fremantle council.
"Studying law has taught me a lot about how to read policy and the importance of getting policy right, which is obviously important in council when you're putting through local laws and approving different things," says South Fremantle's Jemima Williamson-Wong.
Sustainable development has further reinforced her understanding of balancing the economic, environmental, and social aspects of developments, which she sees as crucial for Fremantle's future growth and its ability to adapt to climate change.
Ms Williamson-Wong says she's had an interest in running for council since she was in high school; it was an era when former mayor Brad Pettitt was bringing a new focus on sustainability to the city, demanding buildings lower their carbon footprint and urging higher density to curb the sprawl on the edges of the metropolitan area; his policies were challenging for some Portsiders, but Ms Williamson-Wong believes it was the right direction.
"I've always seen local government as a place to make a positive contribution," she said.
"I think the leadership from Freo council has always inspired me to look at the positive change I can make more generally."
One of Ms Williamson-Wong's key priorities is addressing affordable housing, especially for young people.
She says new developments should cater to community engagement and opportunities, rather than simply maximising density.
We don't want to see big towers go up that are simply there to maximise density as quickly as possible, because we know that it's not going to last."
She says a recent successful campaign, led by local architects, against the designs of the proposed Monument East development on Amherst Street in White Gum Valley, is an example of how an "engaged" Freo community can help shape how it grows in a positive way.
"I also think these new developments link very closely with how we revitalise the city centre; shops need people to work in them and we also need people to spend money in our city centre. The more people we bring into Fremantle to live, means the more people that will work here and contribute to our local economy."
She says that can also help address the decline in the city's economic diversity.
Ms Williamson-Wong, who's in her early 20s, recently ran sessions for Fremantle council's Community Strategic Plan review with other young people and says they were keen to see vibrant community spaces that extend beyond traditional alcohol-based venues.
"Young people are wanting spaces for community theatre, workshop spaces, and maybe that goes back to the green spaces. How do we design better green spaces so people can feel comfortable to go and hang out there and feel like it'san inviting place to be?" she says.
Ms Williamson-Wong has a long history of climate volunteering and says that has reinforced the urgent need for councils to prepare for the future.
"When I view any problem. I'm looking at it through that climate justice lens. How is this going to affect our future? How is this going to affect us intergenerationally and those less advantaged already?"
Part of that means advocating for active transport and sustainable urban planning. She envisions a Fremantle with better walkability and bike infrastructure, reducing the carbon footprint and supporting the local economy. She believes that Fremantle's identity as a walkable city should be preserved and enhanced.
From Roel Loopers' post (part):
My impression of the young law and sustainable development student is that she is a very bright and delightful woman, who is keen to listen to the community. She is a fifth-generation Fremantle resident, who clearly loves living in Freo.
Jemima wants to have genuine conversations with young and old, no matter what their political preferences are, to understand what Fremantle really means to them. How to get more young people to become interested in local government, how do we better develop Freo, so that it becomes more attractive to families, how can we improve community building?
What will the development of the Fremantle Port precinct mean for Fremantle, and how do we deal with climate change and rising sea levels, that will impact on any future coastal development?
How can Fremantle Council and the administration better connect with the Freo community, how can we encourage respectful conversations and collaborations?
Jemima wants to promote diverse economic growth, enrich the range of social and cultural experiences for all, and prioritise climate-conscious initiatives.
I walked away after our one-hour talk very impressed with how level-headed she is. She is already the state coordinator for the Australian Youth Climate Coalition, and works in the Fremantle hospitality industry, right on the wharf.
It was great to hear practical ideas and solutions from her. As a daughter of architects, city planning and development are clearly important to her, especially because of the housing and social housing crisis we are in.
I have absolutely no doubt that Jemima Williamson-Wong would make a positive contribution to Fremantle Council. Her clear desire to want to listen to all of us, is a very good step toward achieving her goal of becoming a Freo Councillor.
Roel Loopers' post in freoview.
Top photo courtesy Fremantle Herald.
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