Vale Freda St John Watkin

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Freda4Freda St John Watkin at the launch of Trains Not Tolls, Fitzroy Town Hall, June 2013

Freda St. John Watkin passed away on 9 May 2014 after a battle with cancer. Freda was the secretary and public face of YCAT from 2008. She was also well known for her many other roles in the community, including as a installation artist working in photography, digital imaging, video, painting and printmaking.

Yarra Campaign Against the Tunnel (YCAT, now Yarra Campaign for Action on Transport) started in 2008 as a community reaction to the East-West Road tunnel proposed in the Eddington Report.

After the road tunnel proposal was thrown out by the Brumby Government for lack of a business case, the local campaign went very quiet. YCAT continued as a community platform to promote public transport over road funding.

No one could have predicted the perfect storm of conservative irrationality that would sweep the East-West Link back into consideration by the big end of town in 2013.

The megaproject was called a mad scheme by Paul Mees, in a video shortly before his death less than a year ago.

As the reality of this mad scheme became apparent, many groups formed to oppose it across Victoria.

Freda St John Watkin

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Freda St John Watkin at No East West Link Rally, October 2013

Freda reached out to other groups building trust and networks of good committed people. Her always diplomatic and consultative style helped to bridge differences in ideology, outlook and local perspectives.

Freda was always far more interested in connecting communities than grandstanding YCAT’s position. Even while exhibiting photos in China, she still found time to respond to queries from the public and other groups.


13 October 2013: Freda Watkin (Yarra Campaign for Action on Transport – www.ycat.org.au) speaks at the rally against the East-West Link tollroad. She announces the formation of a new broad coalition, the “Victorian Integrated Transport Alliance” (VITAL)

Now the campaign against the East West Link has transformed into a a state-wide revolt, with many coordinated local groups working closely together. The government ignores them at its peril.

Our thought are with Freda’s family and friends at this sad time, we will advise on arrangements when they become available.

Thank you Freda for your years of wise counsel and strength.

You’ll be missed by us all and the fight for our local communities will continue.

The Funeral Service for Ms Freda St John Watkin will be held at Ern Jensen & Son Funeral Home, cnr Bruce and Mary Sts, Preston on Wednesday (May 14, 2014) at 2pm, followed by a Private Cremation. Published in Herald Sun on 12/05/2014.

Donations would be appreciated, envelopes will be available and donations will be going to the St Vincent’s cancer centre.

2 thoughts on “Vale Freda St John Watkin”

  1. John Cox says:

    This is a fine tribute to a very courageous campaigner. No one has worked harder in the fight against the East-West Link than Freda. The size and strength of the current campaigns across Melbourne are the direct result of her dogged commitment over many years, even when the tunnel threat appeared to have been shelved.
    I have learnt much from Freda and am very proud to have been her friend. She leaves behind a legacy of community mobilisation that we can all be grateful for.
    John Cox

  2. Sean Deany says:

    Its sad news to learn of the loss of such a staunch fighter against the sheer madness which has overcome state and federal governments.

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