by Jan Macindoe and Dorothy Davis, Community Development Subcommittee, from Bulletin 7/2021, September 2021
It is pleasing to note that one of the candidates in the Mayoral election, Labor candidate Linda Scott, has a policy commitment to ‘Re-Establish Community Centres and City of Sydney Town Halls’.
This is directly in line with the Glebe Society’s proposal to Council that a staffed community centre be established in Glebe Town Hall. As we have reported previously, although the initial response of Council was positive, because of the pandemic, the proposal became a low priority. We again raised the issue in early 2021 and received a reply from the Mayor in April, indicating that the Manager of Social Programs & Services would contact us about our request. Of course, progress has again been delayed by COVID-19. The situation remains that even St Helen’s Community Centre has been closed since early 2020 and Clover Moore’s 2021 election policies do not specifically address community services.
Linda Scott’s policy can be accessed at https://www.lindascott.org.au/policy/community-policy and states:
City of Sydney Labor will establish a staffed community centre at City of Sydney Town Halls, such as Glebe Town Hall and Redfern Community Centre, to provide support for community building and space for community use with accessible service.
More broadly, Linda Scott’s policy draws attention to the closure of community centres and the privatisation of community spaces.
The City of Sydney’s community spaces and services are under-resourced, under threat, and subject to privatisation by stealth.
To add to this, many City of Sydney community venues have had staffing allocations significantly reduced, and, as a result, the strong community connection that existed and the provision of accessible community space is under threat.
We hope that Linda’s stand gives more prominence to this issue, and spurs other Mayoral candidates to commit to restoring community services and spaces. We will be in dire need of opportunities to re-establish community connections when we eventually emerge from the COVID lockdown.