Wednesday, May 18, 2022
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Col James Student Housing for quarantine trial

Excavation has started on the final precinct of the Pemulwuy Project on Eveleigh Street between Lawson and Caroline streets. Gone now is the old Railway View Hotel that used to occupy the corner, with the only remaining trace of it the recently exposed cellar under the old bar room. During work for the other precincts, the site stored construction materials and equipment.

It will soon be replaced by a three-storey building with four retail tenancies at ground level and offices above, including one for the Aboriginal Housing Company (AHC). Facing Caroline Street, a childcare centre for 60 children will be built with its outdoor play space between it and the rerouted end of Caroline Lane that will now exit to Caroline Street.

The AHC office is currently occupying one of the residential apartments waiting for the new building. Only two other of the 62 units remain unoccupied.

Scape built and operates the Col James Student Housing building adjacent to the railway line under a long-term lease from the AHC which paid for construction of the Aboriginal housing. In May, Scape took a proposal to the NSW treasurer to use its new building to quarantine overseas students. On September 23 Scape was awarded the contract to run a trial starting in December 2021.

The building accommodates about 500 students in single rooms with individually contained air-conditioning. Students, who will arrive in groups of 250 for their 14 days in quarantine, must be fully vaccinated with one of the four Australian approved vaccines – AstraZeneca, Pfizer, Moderna or Johnson & Johnson. The buses they arrive in will pull into the building’s delivery area to avoid external contact with local residents.

Scape chief executive Anouk Darling was reported by News Media as saying that police will oversee the quarantine from an onsite ground-floor room, monitoring the hallways and CCTV, and that each room has sensors that alert them when a door is opened.

“It can sense whether the door is opened from the inside or outside, so we’ll know if it’s a scheduled meal delivery or if there’s a potential breach on the floor,” Ms Darling said.

“It’s such a complex problem and it’s so important to get it right. But I think this would be the safest place for anyone to quarantine in Australia.”

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