Stimulate my neighbourhood centre!

Below is my article in the latest South Sydney Herald, about a grant The Settlement received to assist with the redevelopment plans. Construction for the first stage should begin very soon.

State Government contributes towards Settlement redevelopment

The Sydney University Settlement, also known as The Settlement, has received State Government funding that will help begin the long-awaited redevelopment of The Settlement Neighbourhood Centre hall. The grant will allow the first stage of the redevelopment of the hall, a building that has been little improved since it was first built in the early days of the Settlement.

Located in Edward St, Darlington, the Settlement provides social housing and community services to disadvantaged residents of the area. Due to the high Indigenous population in the surrounding suburbs, many but not all centre users are Aboriginal. The Settlement provides popular youth programs and children’s after school care, with many second and third generation Settlement families attending.

The Community Building Partnership Program is a rare opportunity for community organisations to receive funds for capital expenditure, with funds normally restricted to programs and materials. Over the years this has led to a situation where the Settlement hall has fallen below the building standards appropriate for a community service. The Settlement is particularly concerned about the safety and wellbeing of young children in the ageing hall.

In response, plans have been drawn-up and approved by City of Sydney Council to redevelop the hall. These plans will improve the safety and usability of the hall and to stop the extreme hot and cold conditions experienced by staff and centre users. New meeting spaces are to be included in the plan, allowing more community groups to use the hall and a greater range of programs to be provided by The Settlement.

The money received under the Community Building Partnership Program, combined with generous gifts from Secret Millionaire Peter Bond, the Department of Community Services and others, will allow the first stage of the redevelopment to be completed. However this represents only a third of the project and much work remains to raise the funds to complete the project. Further support is required by residents, the business community and Government to ensure that The Settlement is able to continue its role as a safe and welcoming space to Indigenous and non-Indigenous families.

The Sydney University Settlement was begun by members of the Sydney University Women’s Society at the close of the 19th century, as part of the Settlement movement begun in the East End of London. The Settlement is proud to have provided assistance to the community for over 100 years, and looks forward to beginning a new stage of history in a proud, new building at 17 Edward Street.

Joel Pringle

Joel is the Chairperson of the Sydney University Settlement

Update: This is the text as submitted, the article appears in edited form in print.

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