Don’t sell ‘family hub’ : Gympie groups cry

Community groups are appealing to Gympie Regional Council to consult with the community more before committing to sell the building at 2 O'Connell Street. PHOTO: Mal Dodt

Plans by Gympie Regional Council to sell off a community owned building at 2 O’Connell St, have caused consternation among community organisations.

The sale has been announced as an agenda item for Wednesday’s GRC general meeting.

Strongest advocate against the sale, Caroline Collins, is the coordinator of the Gympie Local Level Alliance, a group which it says supports family projects.

Ms Collins said she believed the building was formerly owned by the Department of Education but was purchased by local government for community purposes.

“At the time of purchase, Council was in the process of moving their own staff into the (former) baby clinic at 2 Mellor St, Gympie,” Ms Collins said.

“The building at 2 O’Connell Street filled an important gap as it enabled the continuation of a number of child and family programs and supported their expansion.

“For the past 12 years, 2 O’Connell Street has been a venue for parenting support programs, playgroups, child health checks, counselling, allied health

services, information and resources, and group work.

“The venue is purpose-built and offers a welcoming, safe, child-friendly environment for families and accessibility through its central location.

“It is imperative that this building be retained for community purposes, and that existing supports for children and families in our community are not lost,” she said.

Former Gympie Regional Cultural Ambassador, Cindy Vogels has come out in support of the Gympie LLA on Facebook saying she would like the council to have greater community consultation before committing to the sale.

“I urge Council to explore options to retain this building for community purposes, and to undertake community consultation before proceeding with the sale of 2 O’Connell Street,” she said.

“The results from the Australian Early Development Census (2018) show the high area of need in our community with 39.4 per cent of Gympie children assessed as vulnerable on one or more domain as they start school.

“The Gympie Region Local Level Alliance is committed to improving outcomes for all children in our region by partnering with community members, government departments and services to develop place-based responses and align our efforts.

“Take a look at their Facebook page to understand some of their important work in the community at,” Ms Vogels said.

Ms Collins is hopeful GRC will listen to community voices regarding the sale.

“There is strong community support to have this building retained for community purposes (particularly for children and families) and for Council to undertake some community consultation before proceeding with a sale,” Ms Collins said.