Bitter feud erupts between two Mt Hawthorn volunteer groups

Anzac Cottage Mt Hawthorn. Picture: Andrew Ritchie.
Anzac Cottage Mt Hawthorn. Picture: Andrew Ritchie.

A BITTER feud has erupted between volunteer groups Vietnam Veterans Association of Australia WA (VVAA WA) and Friends of Anzac Cottage (The Friends).

Just days away from the cottage’s 104th anniversary, The Friends announced it would stop holding activities at the memorial place in Mt Hawthorn due to “ongoing tensions” with cottage lessor VVAA WA.

After 14 years of delivering services at the cottage, The Friends closed the door on Friday to holding monthly open days, wartime commemorations and educational visits for school and social groups.

The Anzac Day Sunset Service at the cottage is not expected to be affected.

“The VVAA WA’s intention is to keep the cottage open… we will certainly be conducting a Sunset Service on Anzac day,” VVAA WA state president Richard Williams said.

“We won’t be mothballed.”

Mr Williams said at a November 2019 meeting VVAA WA was asked by The Friends to “relinquish” the cottage lease but if the request was denied, The Friends would walk out.

“I couldn’t give them an answer or decision until January 20… two-thirds majority voted to retain the lease and stay at the cottage,” he said.

Mr Williams said the VVAA WA was made aware of The Friends’ intention to leave to the Cottage on Friday through a phone call from a City of Vincent representative.

The Friends secretary Anne Chapple said concerns included the care and maintenance of the cottage.

“In the past nine years, for instance, the lawn has died and to me that shows there’s no respect for the actual cottage; people would scream if the lawn died in Kings Park around the memorial,” she said.

“So we (The Friends) decided to make an offer: we would take over the lease and maintenance to relieve them of the jobs at no cost to them, but they rejected the offer.”

Mr Williams said he would be “happy” to sit down with The Friends to try and find a resolution.

“If we can sit down around the table and discuss the matter and resolve it, we would be happy to,” he said.

“You can’t deal with people if they don’t want to communicate.”

Mrs Chapple said The Friends would consider resuming its services at the cottage “if the conditions were made easy” for them to go back.

“We have tried really hard to resolve the issue and this act was an act of desperation,” she said.

“We would love it to be resolved but you just can’t keep going on and on with twists and changes forever.”