3 June 2019

ACT Budget 2019: New community centre on the way for Woden

| Ian Bushnell
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Murrumbidgee MLA Bec Cody and City Services Minister Chris Steel making the Budget announcement at Woden Community Service. Photos: George Tsotsos.

The ACT Government has promised to build a new Woden Community Centre, with $1.75 million for design work allocated in tomorrow’s Budget.

The funding over two years is the centrepiece of a boost to community services that also includes $2.6 million for upgrades to other community centres and $2 million for suburban playgrounds.

The new Woden centre will house the not-for-profit Woden Community Services, now in its 50th year and spread over three locations in the Woden Town Centre, and provide meeting spaces, a place for programs and activities and to support events, including the arts.

City Services Minister Chris Steel said it was an important next step in building community facilities in the growing area.

“We know the current facilities are not meeting the needs of the community and community centres provide a really important essential element to a community, providing a place for people to come together and connect,” he said.

Mr Steel said talks with Woden Valley Community Council, which has been lobbying hard for more community facilities in the Town Centre including a multi-sports centre, and WCS had made it clear the priority was the construction of a new community centre.

“This will provide for a much more flexible space for a range of different activities and we want to consult with the community about what that will be,” he said. “There is the potential of having some sporting activities but it won’t be a multi-purpose sports centre.”

A site had not yet been finalised but the preferred one was adjacent to the Callum offices on Callum Street near WCS’s existing youth centre building and their current staff in Callum offices itself.

“The Woden community has grown and so have the number of services that WCS offer as well, and we need a community centre that is fit for purpose and can provide all of the services from one central location,” Mr Steel said.

The design process would establish what was required, its overall cost and how long it would take to be delivered.

WCS CEO Jenny Kitchin: “We’ll work very closely with Government to ensure it’s the best that it can be.”

WCS CEO Jenny Kitchin said the service was delighted with the announcement and the opportunity for its services to operate side by side, and also ‘more importantly open up spaces for the community to come in and share the work that we do’.

She said with WCS celebrating its 50th year the timing could not be better.

At present WCS’s services and programs were very dispersed with the Lollipop Childcare Centre and mental health team operating from the Corinna Street site, the youth centre hosting disability programs and a whole range of support services based at the Callum Street offices including aged care and homelessness services.

“It would be great to bring them all together,” Ms Kitchin said. “The main thing that we’ve lacked is some good community rooms and space to do large activities. Except for the youth centre, there are no other places to welcome people.

“We’ll work very closely with Government to ensure it’s the best that it can be.”

WCS was first established in 1969 by a group of local residents responding to the needs of people in the community. Childcare, family support, aged care, social groups, mental health support and other community-based services have always been a central part of its services.

Other ACT community centre work will include roof repairs and upgrades at the Maitland Centre in Hackett, refurbishment of the Spence Children’s Cottage, and heating, ventilation, and air conditioning upgrades at Mount Rogers Community Centre.

Richardson, Waramanga, Torrens, Narrabundah and Higgins playgrounds will get a better mix of equipment and activities that cater to more ages, abilities and play styles. The designs will be based on consultation with the community as part of play space reviews under way in these suburbs.

There will also be new natural play spaces near Yerrabi Pond in Gungahlin and at the Kambah Adventure Playground in Tuggeranong.

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Great stuff. Woden has suffered through years of both government and private closures and sell offs of community facilities.

Original community centre. The TAFE. Basketball centre, Bowling alley and short course golf. Etc etc all gone.

What will happen with the old Woden CIT site? They’ve put in a DA to demolish the existing buildings, but no word on what will go there. Knowing Barr & Co, it will be sold off for development, and another useful government asset will disappear.

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