Did you know there are 17 community centres and libraries in the City of Sydney?
These spaces are essential hubs for lifelong learning, creativity, culture, health and wellbeing activities. During the pandemic, these spaces were repurposed as vaccination hubs and support centres.
Since 2004, the City has invested almost half a billion dollars in our community and recreation facilities. This includes the beautiful new Surry Hills Library and Community Centre, Green Square Library and Community Centre and Joynton Avenue Creative Arts Centre. It also includes our major upgrades of Glebe Town Hall, Juanita Neilsen Community Centre and the East Sydney Community and Arts Centre.
Last year, I asked for Council’s support to increase the resources for community centres, including additional staff, in the 2022/23 Budget.
Council passed a budget that increased community centre funding by 20 per cent, with the additional $1.2 million used to employ another 9.6 staff positions across our community facilities.
In addition, major construction began on a number of our community facilities, including our Aboriginal knowledge and cultural centre at 119 Redfern Street and Pyrmont Community Centre.
Emerging from the pandemic, last year we conducted a massive community survey asking how we could improve these centres. The majority of respondents said they like what we do but they want more of it.
When asked what they like about our centres, respondents said they liked being able to learn something new, connect with people, participate in our activities and use our services (including our study spaces and computers).
To ensure our community facilities continue to meet the needs of our community now and into the future, I would like to see:
- Increased access to facilities
- Increased hours and activities
- A more streamlined online Booking System and
- More community participation in managing our facilities.
Access to these facilities is crucial for promoting good health and wellbeing, fostering stronger connections and community.
That’s why today, I directed the CEO to:
- Investigate options for increasing access to community facilities, especially in the southern part of the LGA, including through partnerships with the State Government and in consultation with communities through an improved collaboration model
- Investigate what resources are needed to increase opening hours and the number and types of activities in our community facilities, in line with the community survey results
- Include sufficient resources in this year’s budget to ensure the streamlined online booking system for community facilities is operational by the end of next year and
- Embed community participation into the management of our community centres by inviting the community to meet with centre staff and management twice a year to enable local community feedback, collaboration and information sharing.