29 April 2023

New Haig Park community centre named in honour of disability advocate

| Ian Bushnell
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woman standing outside a community centre building and sign

Sue Salthouse’s daughter Luisa Fearnside outside the new Haig Park community centre named in her mother’s honour. Photo: CRA

The new community centre in Haig Park, Braddon, has been named in honour of disability advocate Sue Salthouse, who died in 2020 when a drug-affected driver hit her wheelchair-accessible motorcycle on Commonwealth Avenue Bridge.

The ACT Government-funded Salthouse Community Centre will open next month.

Chief Minister Andrew Barr said the move recognised Ms Salthouse and her advocacy for people – particularly women – with a disability.

She was the ACT’s 2020 Senior Australian of the Year.

woman holding an award

The late Sue Salthouse with her 2020 Senior Australian of the Year Award.

“This inclusive centre in Haig Park is befitting of Sue Salthouse’s important legacy,” Mr Barr said.

“The accessible building reflects her tireless advocacy for people with a disability and ensures future generations will continue to be touched by her work.”

Mr Barr said the centre’s development continued the evolution of Haig Park into an exciting and family-friendly destination, with important flow-on impacts for businesses in the nearby precinct.

He said the centre had a special focus on both sustainability and accessibility.

An adaptive reuse of the park’s 1950s depot shed, the centre features recycled wood and brick materials, wheelchair-accessible rooms and other inclusive elements in line with Ms Salthouse’s legacy.

These include a large multi-purpose room for gatherings, a large community room for creative workshops, another meeting room, one ambulant and two wheelchair-accessible bathrooms, a kitchenette with servery, a wheelchair-accessible barbecue, picnic tables and a public garden.

inside of building

Light and airy: Inside the Salthouse Community Centre. Photo: CRA.

Ms Salthouse’s daughter Luisa Fearnside said the centre was gorgeous and a really lovely tribute to her mother and what she did for Canberra.

“It ticks a lot of boxes that Mum would have been very excited about,” she said.

“All the considerations about accessibility made from the very beginning of the design phase are just glorious.

“There is nothing that feels like a second thought.

“She was a greenie at heart, so all the sustainability elements would make her smile.”

community centre and garden

The centre’s outdoor setting and garden. Photo: CRA.

Northside Community Service will run the centre and is planning a community open day in the coming weeks to give the public an opportunity to explore the new facilities.

Northside Community Service CEO Anna Whitty said the organisation was excited to manage the centre and open its doors to the community.

“Our team is thrilled to call this centre home and facilitate an array of community uses,” Ms Whitty said.

“We understand the role this exciting and inclusive space will play in supporting community wellbeing and connection – and will make sure it becomes a valued destination for all Canberrans.”

The centre is an initiative of the City Renewal Authority and was inspired by community feedback as part of the Haig Park Experiments project.

*This article originally stated Sue Salthouse died last year. Ms Salthouse died in 2020. Region apologises for the error.

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The recognition and honour are fully deserved.

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