The $3.5 million dollar building – formerly an unused amenities block – was largely funded by a $2 million grant from the Federal Government’s Community Infrastructure Program. The Centre has been purpose built for non-profit group WEAVE (Working to Educate, Advocate, Voice and Empower), which helps some 2,000 kids, parents and families each year.
Designed by Collins and Turner Architects in Surry Hills, the new building features a steel canopy shading structure which will eventually blend into the surrounding park, naturally insulate rooms beneath, and shield the rooftop barbecue and vegie patch.
Energy-efficient building materials have been used throughout, including low-energy lighting, natural ventilation, and tanks to collect and re-use rainwater. Slate roof tiles have been recycled into pebbles for the garden and railway sleepers made from one of Australia’s first plantations of ironwood in the 1930s have been transformed into timber pavers for the internal courtyard.
“We know there’s a growing number of families raising kids in the City of Sydney and it is important that young people have safe and fun places they can call their own,” the Lord Mayor said. “Our new Waterloo Community Centre, along with the Oval and Skate Park, offers them a place to be active and to be entertained.”
Tanya Plibersek said she was proud to support an excellent local service. “The grant for this project was part of our $800 million package to kick-start major projects and support local jobs during the global recession – the largest one-off investment in local infrastructure in Australia’s history; and this project is proof of money well spent,” Ms Plibersek said.
WEAVE began as South Sydney Youth Services in 1976, set up by a group of local parents worried about the welfare of local children on the street at night. Shane Brown joined the organisation as a social worker and today is Director. “In those early days I remember driving around the streets of Redfern and Waterloo and essentially operating out of the boot of a car – more than three decades on, we have a team of 74 people and 80 volunteers who help thousands of people of all ages each year,” he said.
WEAVE programs include Kool Kids Club, Tutoring, Mental Health, Drug and Alcohol Counseling, Outreach, Juvenile Justice, a Women and Children’s Centre, an Arts Program, Psychological Services, Aboriginal Information and Referral.
The celebration featured a smoking ceremony by Uncle Max Eulo and free community barbecue, performance by rap duo Deadly Combination and pro-skater demonstrations.